Reflections on the widely visited synagogue of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, located at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York. Familiarly known as simply “770,” this landmark synagogue and epicenter of the Chabad movement has welcomed people from all walks of life since the 1940s.

These walls, if only they could speak, oh, what they would tell. Of the broken hearts you uplifted, of the impassive spirits you ignited, of the skeptical minds you enlightened.

These weathered beams, how many times they watched you cry.

These windows, the colors of the souls they mirrored, day in, day out, for so many years.

I come here to find the color of my soul reflected in the glass. I come here to remember when you touched me.

The famed chassidic personality Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Shpoli related that when he was a child of three he saw the saintly Baal Shem Tov. “He placed his holy hand on my heart, and ever since, I have felt warm . . .”

A gesture of a tzaddik, certainly seeing him and hearing his voice, must make an impression never to be forgotten. (Hayom Yom, 14 Teves)

And so it is.

These worn benches forever etched with your holy words, upon which men of another world once sat, etching your teachings into their very hearts and minds.

These walls, they ache. They’ve heard all of your songs. Sing to me, I tell them.

These floors, they carry me when the earth outside seems to fall away beneath my feet.

I come here when I’m drifting, when I can’t hear my own voice anymore. I come here because I need you to call me back to myself. And when you do, when you wake me from my reverie, you bring my walls down. I then make the trek back home unguarded, dedicating everything I have to follow your dreams.

See, here I can just be me. Not child, nor parent; not artist, nor scientist; not sinner, nor saint. Just be, these walls whisper, just be.

Here it is not about our differences; here it is all about oneness. It is here that I remember we are born against our will. That the world is naught, that G‑d is everything. That if we turned more deeply inward, we would discover greater happiness. It is here that I learn that when you sat and spoke for hours on end, it was not for your own fulfillment, but for ours; that your entire raison d’être was for the good of humanity.

And in our weaker moments, when our eyes were blinded by the lights of a free country, these walls stood tall, absorbing your every breath, silently promising to share your vision with every soul that would pass through in the years to come.

They all pass through here at one time or another. They come from far, but they always felt close. The former hippie, he’s forever been your chassid—long before he knew your name, long before he even knew there were Jews living in Brooklyn. When he was writing music in the mountains of Tibet, already then he was your chassid. Everything you taught, that’s what he was writing about.

He comes here to touch what he knows, to taste what he senses—searching, as we all are.

They say when you used to pray here, it was like the Garden of Eden.

“Why all the mayhem today?” he muses. It is our lives, I tell him. The chaos, the friction—it is the mayhem of our souls. You can still smell Eden here, I assure him. Where? he asks. When the dust-kicking, sand-swirling wrestle of your souls dies down for a moment, then you can hear the songs in these walls. Come when it’s quiet, I offer. Or better, come when it’s loud inside of you, when you can’t hear your own voice anymore.

“Why don’t they fix this place up?” a tourist asks me, confused. Because we are broken, I tell her; because we are busy fixing our souls in the debris of exile. We are searching for the scattered pieces of ourselves where we first lost them—and where we first found them. Only once you have been broken can you truly mend. And it is here, between these aching walls, that we learn how to heal.

Yes, the benches may be worn, the floorboards creaking beneath my feet, the nooks and crannies aged with time. But these walls, they ache. Stay a while, they whisper. Stay, and just be. Be everything you are.