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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 30, 2013/ 25 Elul, 5773

Labor omnia vincit

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The old man had long ago given up fixing shoes and tried other businesses, always at the same location, and usually with the same customers. But he never found any other work that gave him as much satisfaction as putting a couple of nice new leather soles on a pair of old uppers. Or putting a pair of Cat's Paw heels on shoes that still had a lot of wear left in 'em, as he would assure the customer. He did it neatly, surely, carefully -- to last. And he guaranteed his work. He knew lots of these folks in from the country on a Saturday to buy provisions didn't have money to spare, and he hated waste. The same went for those from the Bottoms, the black neighborhood not far away.

He loved the feel and aroma of new leather, the grain in the old. He was seldom as happy as when he could hold a pair of weathered shoes in his hands, turn them over and over, feel the tread, admire the workmanship. Sometimes he could even name the local shoemaker who'd done the job. Each had his own, recognizable pattern -- a broken stitch, the way he cut the leather, even the telltale marks of the individual, well-worn shoe last or Landis stitcher.

Labor omnia vincit. Labor conquers all. The old man had no Latin, but he did have some Hebrew, and would have known that the Hebrew word for labor and worship are the same: avodah. He worked the same way he prayed: with dedication, concentration, and above all, intention. It showed. He was not a learned man, much as he would have loved to be, but in those two things -- work and prayer -- he came into his own.

He was not a learned man, never having got past the third grade. He'd arrived in America a stranger in a strange land, even if it was one he loved. He would occasionally describe someone he knew in a respectful, almost reverential, phrase -- "he's an educated man" or "she's an educated woman" -- that combined admiration and envy.

His boys could remember those rare occasions when the old man lost his temper. Once he threw a poorly repaired pair of shoes against a wall in his fury. What a sloppy waste of good leather! What a waste of time and the customer's money!

In his old age, he was unable to contain his contempt when he would drive past one of those glitzy new shoe stores that sold cheap, shiny imports -- the cardboard kind sure to come apart in the first rain. He hated them. They were an insult to the whole trade.

The old man took poor workmanship as a personal affront. Labor wasn't a factor of production to him, it was a calling -- and a refuge.

The old man wasn't much on theory, but he understood value received, good will, repeat business, and, above all, the importance of trust between people -- customer and merchant, worker and boss, lender and borrower. To him, commerce was friendship.

All the talk he heard about labor and capital, first from agitators in the old country, and then as the standard fare of politics in this one, seemed textbookish to him -- not really useful like a good, solid pair of shoes.

He had a more personal concept of how economics worked. He thought of the economy as a web of personal relationships: with his customers; with the workers he hired and trained and sometimes had to let go; with the banker he depended on to get him started in his various new ventures, some of which went well and some of which didn't; with the landlord who collected the rent from him, and with his own tenants after he began buying a piece of property here and there, and building some rent houses. He liked his houses kept up, the lawns mowed, so they would "look like something," as he used to say. Like a good pair of shoes.

Much like most Americans, the old man was too deeply involved with labor and capital to think in those terms. Instead he thought in terms of people and whether their work -- and their word -- was good.

When he died, people the family couldn't remember, maybe had never even seen before, showed up at the house to pay their respects. They'd all tell pretty much the same story -- how he'd given them credit when they needed it, or a little help when they were trying to get started.

He liked giving people a start. There was Henry Johnson, for instance, whom he'd hired as a boy -- and taught how to fix shoes. And who would lose his legs soon after he started work. (A railroad accident. He'd been in a hurry one day and decided to hop between the cars of a long freight rather than wait till it passed. Bad idea.) The old man had stuck with him, and Henry in turn would stick with him. For the next 50 years, mastering one new skill after another.

His apprentice would grow old with his boss, teach him as much he'd learned, and die two weeks before the old man himself. The family smiled knowingly when they heard Henry was dead. They knew he'd just gone ahead, as usual, to scout out the territory.

On this Labor Day, a great deal will be said in the usual press releases, but none of it will be more eloquent than work done well. To me, two new soles on a pair of well-shined shoes still say more than all the Labor Day speeches ever written. And business still isn't just business -- as in "Business is business!" -- but friendship.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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