Monday, January 23, 2006

Gam Zu Letovah

A minus: 6 months, 3 weeks

Since the Rabbi is out of town, I've been teaching a class of second graders in religious school at Chabad for the past several weeks, in addition to the basic Hebrew class I teach for adults. Every week, I teach the children a new mitzvah beginning with the next Hebrew letter. We started with "Ahavat Yisrael," to love one's fellow Jew, followed by "Bal Taschit," not wasting. This week we learned the letter gimmel, so I taught, "Gam Zu Letovah," the concept that even seemingly inexplicably bad things sometimes happen for a good reason. I decided to give the class the following personal example:

"Two weeks ago, my car was stolen," I pronounced.

I was immediately interrupted by Justin, "How much was it worth?"

"A thousand dollars," I replied.

"That's nothing! You must have had a pretty trashy car."

"Justin, the next mitzvah we're going to learn is Derech Eretz," I replied, "proper behavior, so watch your mouth."
"Anyway, my car was stolen, and I thought I was having a really bad day. When I got to work, I called my insurance company, and they told me that I could only have $25 per day to rent something, so I was going to have to get a really little car. But when I went to the rental car company, they said they were out of little cars, so they offered me a medium sized car instead for the same price, and I said OK. Then, they said they were out of medium sized cars, so they offered me a pickup truck for the same price, which was fine with me. Then they realized they were out of pickup trucks too, so they offered me a van. I accepted, and again, they were out of Vans. The only car they had left was a 2006 Cadillac, so now I get to drive the Cadillac, and the insurance company is paying for it!"

I love it when I can bring in personal examples from my life. The rest of the story is that the CRX turned up stripped, with my stereo and tefillin stolen and a flat tire, so it's now in the Insurance Company's lot being assessed. Meanwhile, Rabbi Resnik in Pleasanton received a donation of an old Ford Probe, so if all else fails, I'll still have something to drive. Gam zu letovah.

I've become very involved with the local Chabad shul (synagogue,) not just teaching classes but also been helping set up the synagogue, buying sodas, and doing general schlepping. I have a sort of quid-pro-quo with the Rabbi. It feels a bit improper taking money from a shul, so I generally refuse payment for teaching classes or buying food. The Rabbi has a constant supply of meat coming in from Los Angeles because his brother is a Kosher butcher, so when I finish teaching a class, I just walk into the back and grab a steak or some frozen pizza. Also, when I need a car, I can always borrow one of his beaters, and I can always go over to his home if I need a place for Shabbes, so, it works out quite well for both of us.

Career wise, I'm progressing quite well. Because of my three years of service with my company, and the Professional Engineering license I will hopefully receive if I pass the PE exam, I've been given a window office. It seems to be quite a big deal, as people are constantly coming in and shaking my hand, offering congratulations. There is also an unquantifiable feeling I have been getting from my coworkers, the way they ask me for snap decisions based on my engineering judgment, send emails to my boss specifically asking that Ephraim be assigned to work on their project, and assign me difficult problems with little oversight. I think it's called "respect," but it's quite a new feeling for me. Too bad I only have six more months to enjoy it.

In the mean time I'm finishing my application for Nefesh B'Nefesh. I've completed my financial affidavit, written my essay, filled out all my forms, dotted my i's and crossed my t's. Now I'm just waiting for Rabbi Resnik to finish my final letter of recommendation and for my passport photos to be developed and I'll be ready to send it out.

Picture of my old office.

Picture of my new office.

Picture of the view from my office of the Shadelands Museum (one of the few origingal buildings from the previous century that remains standing in Walnut Creek.)


Toto said...

Kol Ha Kavod on the new office! Even the floors and desk are nicer!!! Is the chair more comfortable? :)

Teaching is fun isn't it....esp. when you can bring in your own 'stuff'.

Are you enjoying driving around in the Caddi or has it gotten old yet? :)

Kol tuv,

Ephraim said...

How observant of you to notice. They remodeled the office before they put me in there. No folding tables or particle-board bookshelves here.

Yup, I'm still enjoying the Caddy. I hope I get my old CRX back soon though, the thing drinks gas like a fish drinks water.