How To See The Good



“Good is in your heart. Connect with it and you will see beauty.” 


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A new yearly cycle of reading the Torah started on Saturday, September 28th. Five books of Moses are divided into 54 chapters, which are read every Shabbat in the synagogues around the world. The Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle. To adapt to the days we use from the Gregorian calendar (1582) in certain weeks, some chapters are combined. Every morning, I read the chapter of the day as an inspiration and a reminder, and I would like to share some of my observations with you.

The first book and the first chapter in English are called, “Genesis”, and as you probably know, describe the story of creation of the world. Among us, there are those who take the story literally. Some believe that the narrative is the product of human imagination, while others claim that there is no God and no story.

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I personally believe that there are the sources of creation and sustaining of the life beyond our comprehension—this is what some of us call God. The Torah is not a history book and presents its narrative often in an allegorical form. For example, six days of creation is an evolutionary process, which scientists have calculated took place over 15 billion years ago. But what is remarkable for us readers, is how this complicated process is described in the Torah:

“In the beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the earth—when the earth was astonishingly empty with darkness upon the surface of the deep, and the Divine Presence hovered upon the surface of the waters—God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated between the light and the darkness.”—Genesis 1/1-5

Upon completion of each daily task:

 “God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”—Genesis 1/26-27

The question comes to mind, how it is possible to see good! After all, as we know, good is a relative term (Good vs. Bad).

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Perhaps what the Torah calls “good”, refers to our definition of beauty, and in “God’s eyes” good is equivalent to beauty. Then there is a question—how do we feel good? Usually we say that it feels good in the heart. 

On my trip to Cuba in February, I met a very good Cuban photographer, José Martí. He taught me a valuable lesson. To create beautiful images, the photographer needs to see an object, not only with the eyes, but to connect with the heart.

This also relates to the mortgage business. To enable me to see a good plan of action for my clients’ needs, I need to connect with them heart to heart. That is when good solutions often come and I can “see” them.

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At the same time, I wonder if God would see what our government is creating in the mortgage business as good? Just read “Shutdown Trips up Mortgage Lending” (in The San Francisco Chronicle), to get a sense of how we are all interconnected.

P.S.

We traveled to Venice to see the La Biennale di Venezia Art Show, which has taken place there every other year for over 100 years. Venice is beautiful and incredibly crowded with tourists. It was our first stop on our trip to Italy—details of which I will share with you later. Meanwhile, see how good and beautiful it is.

In a separate email, I am going to send you from time to time—“Today’s Specials” about beneficial mortgage news.


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How to Stay in Traffic and Enjoy Life

 

“While traveling life’s journey, choose the road less traveled, keep your eyes open, and record your experience.” 

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I was taking my daughter Tamar to the airport. We left a little bit late and Tamar was nervous. I was considering between either Highway 280 or 101. It was a little past 9am, so I reasoned that the traffic on the 101, which is shorter in distance, would be okay.

When we got on the ramp, we saw that the road was a sea of slowly moving cars. Since there was no way to turn back, I made the only decision I could—“To stay in the traffic and enjoy life”. The traffic turned out to be because of a small accident up ahead. Meanwhile, the damaged vehicle, the tow truck, and the police car were on the other side of the road. Drivers were slowing down and did what Tamar said in LA is called “rubber-necking”. After that, traffic gained speed and we got to the airport on time.

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Looking back on my life and reflecting on the times when I was late to something, I realized that I actually do not remember missing anything. Once when we just arrived to the United States, I was driving in heavy rain to a job interview for a property manager position. I could not get there on time and as a result, I did not become a property manager. I was not late to my next appointment and became a mortgage broker instead.

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Too often we are afraid that life will happen without us—that we will miss something. As a result, our reaction is to become tense, nervous, and upset. And then when everything is okay and things turn out the way they are supposed to be in the first place, we promptly forget about our upset just to face another one later on.

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As I’ve described in my first book, “The Mortgage Game”, every tense situation in a mortgage transaction is eventually resolved.

During the transaction, borrowers have a choice to get upset because of “something, or someone that is doing something to us”, or to simply enjoy life with the knowledge that “this” too shall pass—as it has many times before.
What is left though is the story, which you can tell anyone (who would listen), with some exciting details. Or if you need more stories, you can read them in my books. The latest one, “Mortgage Solutions for Smart People: 5 Easy Ways to Get Your Loan Approved”, is in its final stages of production and will be available shortly.

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P.S.

Traveling on vacation, as much as it is enjoyable, is a hard work.  Last night, we returned from a trip to Italy, and I am glad to be home and will relax at work. My first batch of images from our trip are from Lake Como, where we stayed on the last leg of our trip, after 4 days in Venice and a week in Florence. I will share more details and photos of our trip in the next Good News.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile I need to focus on serving new clients, and your help is greatly appreciated.


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How to Be Affluent



“The river can bring us to our destination as long as we stay in the flow.” 


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A lot of us would like to be affluent. The question is, how? When you read biographies of successful people, there is often a common theme: “I was poor, now I am rich, and I like now better.”
My late mother-in-law used to say, “It is better to be rich and healthy, than sick and poor.” The road from poor to rich is not easy and only a few are willing to pay the price.
I recently spoke with a friend who used to be a loan processor in our company. Now she works for another company earning more money, but she has an hour commute, has a huge workload, and her boss is young, arrogant, and very demanding. She misses our working environment, but needs the money.

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Another friend left the mortgage business and is currently selling software for a start-up. The pay is low, but he has shares. It is a fast-growing company and one day there might be a pay-off. His work is very intensive and fast paced. He misses the mortgage business and claims that if he had worked as hard in mortgages, he would have earned much more.

In the dictionary, the word “Affluent” has two meanings. As an adjective it means, “having abundance of wealth, property, or other material goods”.

It also means, “abounding in anything abundant, or flowing freely”. To sum up, in order to be affluent, one needs to be fluent (like in languages), or to “flow” in whatever one does.

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Life and business can be compared to a river. It can start as a small stream, only to become a huge waterfall. As one becomes more fluent in life, it gets easier to navigate through the rough waters. As long as we stay in the flow, either physical or energetic, there is a better chance to be affluent.
In this sense, the mortgage business has all the elements of a flow. Ever changing, abundant, and diminishing. Like a river, it can quench your thirst or drown you if you will not learn how to stay in the flow.

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When interest rates inched up, lenders came up with new programs. You can refinance today without losing accumulated years in any increase.

For example, if you have a mortgage at 5.50%, which you paid off for 4 years, you can get a new one amortized loan over 26 years or 24, or 21, or any number of years as low as 8 years, at the prevailing interest rate of let’s say, 4.50%. No need to start all over for 30 or 15 years. I call this fluidity.

P.S.

I was inspired by the book “The Tao of Abundance: Eight Ancient Principles for Abundant Living” by Laurence G. Boldt to write this story and I found a few images in my photo library which show the flow of the water. 


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Manny
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To Find a Solution–Focus on the Beauty

 “Nature is our best teacher. Open all your senses to experience beauty.” 

 

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showed a friend my photo of fading roses. Her response was that she does not want to see it, as it is a reminder of her age. I understand her feelings and would not try to change her outlook on life. Nevertheless, a lot of us wear shaded glasses, which limit our ability to see beauty and opportunities in what may be perceived as adverse situations.
I received a call from a client recently, who owns her house with a partner. He wanted out and demanded his share of the equity. She wanted to keep the house and needed a new mortgage to pay him off. The first question she asked was “What loan amount am I qualified for?” Meanwhile, she also needed to know what the amount of the pay-off was going to be. It obviously depended on the value of the property—and here was the problem. She thought it was valued at around $600,000. His real estate agent claimed that if the property were sold, the listing price would be $650,000, and would probably sell for $750,000. As a result, he was demanding much more than what she thought was a fair amount, which, when she called me–mildly speaking, she was upset.

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My recommendation was that instead of fighting him—to accept his position. After all, this could give her more money as well and therefore, he had a valid point.

By changing her anger toward her partner into understanding, things might turn around from approaching the transaction from a different angle.

Selling would involve a 5% real estate commission or $37,000 plus transfer tax, plus attorney and legal fees, if he wanted to force her to accept his demands. This approach would cost him about $50,000 plus a lot of aggravation. Instead, if he would agree to sell his share (without a real estate agent) for the price of $650,000, he would net the same amount. 

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I also taught her Ho’oponopono, the method that I wrote about in last week’s newsletter. She was leaving my office with the words, “I wish you were my attorney.” Luckily, I am not. Being a mortgage broker is enough.
Besides, coming up with solutions for her and my other clients who go through splits in their relationships, are based on many years of experience dealing with people and their life issues—and of course some knowledge of the mortgage business.

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P.S.

I had a number of beautiful flower images from which I made large prints (including the ones in this email). Some of them are displayed on the walls of my office. They look even more beautiful when enlarged. You are welcome to visit me to see them!


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Manny<br />
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The Similarity and Difference Between a Small Yoga Studio and Big Banks

 
Behind every challenge is an opportunity
Behind every opportunity is an obstacle
Behind every obstacle is character
Those who have character overcome their challenges


 

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While my Yoga practice has been on and off for many years, lately my wife Elfa and I have been going to a beautiful studio, called Yogasita, on Mariposa in San Francisco every Sunday morning, when we’re in town. The classes are led by a remarkable teacher and beautiful human being—Susannah Bruder, who is also the owner of Yogasita.
We received an email from Susannah recently, informing us that her landlord has raised her rent by 125% and she has no choice but to close the doors. Later on, the increase was dropped to only 75% and a second plan of action was considered to add more teachers.

Please read her email and see if you can help.

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But now let’s take a look at a very strange question. What do yoga studios and banks have in common?

Apparently, at least two things—serving people and a dependence on outside forces, either economic or political.
And here is a major difference: as much as banks need customers and employees, they quickly abandon both groups under the regulatory pressure from the Federal Government.

Susannah is looking for a solution to keep serving her customers in spite of her economic challenges. Meanwhile, banks have laid off thousands of mortgage related employees when interest rates went up. Recently another mortgage bank, EverBank Financial Group, decided to leave the wholesale relationship with customers following the footsteps of Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and MetLife, who did the same.
recent article in Origination News stated that the decision was based on “the new regulatory scheme under Dodd Frank, despite the production measured in billions of dollars”. The same publication also reported that Wells Fargo ended eight mortgage joint ventures. The company’s press releases stated that it made the decision based on the current regulatory and market environment.

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I am sure that with the help of her loyal students, and clients, Susannah will find a solution and we will be able to continue to stretch and strengthen our bodies in her studio.
Banks will also survive since mortgages are a very small part of their business. As far as the mortgage business is concerned, we will survive as well in spite of more new rules that will take place on January 10th, 2014, which will create even more limiting conditions for borrowers as part of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

I went through two emigrations as I described in the “The Mortgage Game: The 5 C’s and How to Connect Them”, been married for 46 years, and been in the mortgage business for 30 years. Despite all the outside challenges, the American dream cannot die.

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Yours truly 

P.S.

One of the advantages of practicing yoga, after one learns with a good teacher, is that you can practice it anywhere. But one needs to start in a studio. Please join me and my wife in the Yogasita studio.


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Help Save Yogasita!

Hello Friends!

I recently received the email down below from my good friend and Yoga instructor, Susannah Bruder. She would really appreciate any help that you may be able to lend:

Hi dear Yogis:

Thanks for all the ideas and energy and referrals you have sent in such a short time.

Hope I can lift the by clarifying what I need is just 9, 90 minute  classes, sub leased by other teachers of Yoga, martial arts, healing arts,at Yogasita besides my own.  So that could be 9 individual teachers, or one, two or three.

I have many friends who teach Yoga & healing and movement arts, all around the entire Bay, and am asking all.

Because, inevitably a teacher is  moving or looking for a new space –  my thought is to get the ripple out that the lovely serene Yogasita has space.

Upset at my landlord or any worry not good use of energy, just saying.

So who do you know who takes any of these types of classes, or is perhaps a neighbor to, or married to, or knows a teacher of one of these disciplines?

Or  send to your Chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, health care provider – they may know a teacher looking for space. Someone has put it up on Facebook, great idea

Please send your own note about the studio being available, with the CL link and  not my email to you.

If 50% of you who read this email, sends one to someone you know, the 9 slots will be filled quickly. If you all send to one other person, that would be something

Love and Thanks,

Susannah

To contact Susannah, please email her at susannahyoga@aol.com

Address:
1501 Mariposa at Arkansas No. 308
San Francisco, CA 94107
415.864.7482 (SITA)

Website:
Yogasita SF 

 

 

What Does it Feel Like to Ask for Forgiveness?



“Are we guilty until proven innocent?
Or are we innocent until proven guilty?
And, Who is to judge?”


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Tonight at sundown is the beginning of Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement. Jews who follow the tradition will spend the whole day tomorrow in the Synagogues around the world praying and asking God for forgiveness while fasting for 25 hours. Webster Dictionary’s definition of Atonement is:Satisfaction given for wrong doing, injury.

On Yom Kippur during the prayer in the synagogues, believers hit their chest repeating the phrase–“I have sinned before you living and existing God.”

Apparently sin (according to the same dictionary) is: an offense against God, religion, or good morals. And what if the person claims that he/she does not believe in God, or does not belong to any organized religion?

Or what good morals are for one (suicide bombers, for instance) are not so good for others?

And is the Atonement day only for Jews, who live among so many other people, who have their own beliefs, and who do not necessarily follow the 10 commandments?

And then there is a question—Am I really a sinner? 

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During prayer on Yom Kippur, one asks for forgiveness for both the known and unknown sins one committed. There is a joke about the Jewish husband who did nothing wrong. Is he still guilty? And what happens after the Yom Kippur is over? Can we continue to live our habitual (sinful?) lives again until the next Yom Kippur? How do I feel about it?

As you can see, I ask a lot of questions to which I have no answers.

According to Jewish tradition, Man, at his core, is not a sinner. Sin actually means missing the mark, which can be corrected, or amended.

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At the beginning of the story of creation in the Torah, there is a story about the first two children, Cain and Abel. This is a remarkable story, which shows how our way of being leads to the actions, which are considered “missing the mark”:

 


   “After a period of time, Cain brought an offering to HASHEM of the fruit of the ground; and as for Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and from their choicest. HASHEM turned to Abel and to his offering, but to Cain and to his offering He did not turn. This annoyed Cain exceedingly and his countenance fell.

And HASHEM said to Cain, ‘Why are you annoyed and has your countenance fallen? Surely, if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rests at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it.”

Cain spoke with his brother Abel. And it happened when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.”

Genesis 4/3-16 


 

 

In spite of the murderous act, God allowed Cain to live. 

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The process of atonement actually started 10 days ago. The days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, are a time to start the process by asking for forgiveness from the people in our lives, before meeting the King—God and pleading with him for our lives, good health, and well-being.

We do not have to wait for a specific day of the year or to afflict ourselves with a lack of food to ask for forgiveness. I learned a simple daily practice, calledho’oponopono, that consists of repeating four phrases.

Using this opportunity, I want to say.

Please forgive me. I am sorry. Thank you. I love you.

Star of David Ten Commandments Menorah

P.S.

The images of religious Jews in different traditional garbs were taken in Israel on my last trip there in 2007.


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AMERICA’S CUP SPECIAL: What I’ve Learned While Watching the Opening Race for the 34th America’s Cup From a Seagull

“A better mousetrap needs someone to choose the bait, set up the trap, and it can only catch one mouse at a time.”

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America’s Cup is Big Business. During the last year, we read a lot about the preparation and what is done to attract tourists to this remarkable event.

I did not think that I would get to watch the race live, let alone, that I would be able to photograph it. Nevertheless, the opportunity came when we received an email from our investment manager Peter Karp. (He is very good and I am very pleased with the results of my investments.) Apparently, a major social networking company canceled their reservation to watch the race from Forbes Island at the last minute and Peter’s firm received a call asking if he wanted to entertain his VIP clients. And since we were one of them—we were able to attend as well.

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The images you see in this email are a few from hundreds that I took of the race. It is simultaneously a boring and exciting. Most of the time nothing was happening and then in a few minutes, two beautiful $10 million dollar 72 foot catamarans—creations of human ingenuity passed in front of us. Hitting speeds in excess of 20 knots (mi/hr), they glided without touching the water. Sometimes, it looked like they were going to collide into each other. At the end, the New Zealand team won both races. The first time, they beat an American Oracle team by 36 seconds, and the second round by 52-seconds. (Each team will have more races.)

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The next day, I was curious to see the comments in the newspapers. Apparently, there are two factors which contribute to the win: One, according to the article in September 7th’s Wall Street Journal stated, “While cup teams must adhere to guidelines in building their yacht, there is enough leeway that one team can have a far superior design. So the fastest boat usually wins every time, no matter who is sailing.”

But there is one more factor.

According to the article in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 8th“After beating Oracle Skipper Jimmy Spithill to the starting line in both races Kiwis (New Zealand Team), Skipper Dean Barker guided his team to leads at the first mark.”

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But my true lesson, which reinforced both ideas for winning came while I was watching a seagull. For a strange reason, the bird would continuously fly up with an object in her beak and then seemed to have lost it by dropping it down on the concrete retaining wall. Someone pointed out to me that she was actually trying to break an oyster shell.

After she succeeded and was enjoying her meal, another bird just watched and was able to indulge on some left overs.

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Who taught her that? Why is one bird superior to other creatures?

In the modern sailing world, more money does not always guarantee success (though it can help). Smart, repetitive work, and the right tools and a good team have better chances. And of course—the team needs a skipper, who guides the effort.

P.S.

On September 28th, our company Pacific Bay Financial Corporation will celebrate our 28 years young birthday. Over the years, many bigger companies and banks appeared and disappeared. In the game called “Life”, the true winners are those who stay in the game.


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What Does an Apple Have to Do with Rosh Hashana?



“Life consists of cycles–even when it seems that it is a straight line.”


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The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah literally translates to the “Head of the Year”. This day also signifies the birth date of Adam—the first person God created (according to the Torah). Thus, if Adam would listen to his father—God, and not to his wife Eve, and not eat the fruit from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”, he would have lived forever and celebrated his 5,774th birthday by staying in the Garden of Eden, living the quiet life of a gardener without any excitement or turbulence. As a result, you and I would probably not exist and you would not be reading this story.

We do not know what kind of fruit was on the tree which for Eve “was good for eating and was a delight to the eyes” (Genesis 3/16). Nevertheless, according to the Kabbalah (Jewish Esoteric knowledge), the Garden of Eden is called “The Holy Apple Orchard: In addition, King Solomon wrote ‘Beneath the apple I aroused you[r] love” (Song of Songs 8:5). There are other stories connecting apples to Rosh Hashanah. 

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Apples have another remarkable quality. From the ancient times, they were known to have healing properties. Apparently, when King Herod (73-4 B.C.E) felt faint, he would eat an apple. There is a reason for saying “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away”.

To attest to this, there is an article in the recent “The Intelligent Optimist”magazine. Researchers at California State University and other scientists, the article reported, discovered that there are many relationships between apples and our well-being (including helping us lose weight).

For the Rosh Hashanah celebration, the Challah—which is a braided bread traditionally eaten on the Sabbath, is baked round on Rosh Hashanah, and the first piece of it is dipped into honey followed by eating a slice of apple, and reciting the blessing “Shana tova ve matoka” (Bless us with a good and sweet year).

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The apple adds to the symbolism of roundness on this holiday. For me, it signifies a cycle where the end and the beginning are connected together, like seasons in the year. An apple ripens at the beginning of the fall when life slows down after an exuberant summer. After the harvest is collected, everything goes into a dormant winter. In the spring, trees bloom again, attracting bees that produce honey to be reconnected with the fruit that it came from.

We see this cyclical process clearly in the mortgage business. When the interest rates went down, there was an abundance of loans (the harvest). And then the rates went up, the business slowed down. Now we have to work harder on our marketing and asking for referrals. By spring, the market will improve and the world will become alive again.

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I wish you a very good and a very sweet New Year.

Shana tova ve matoka 

P.S.

I decided to visit a farmer’s market in the Civic Center to photograph apples for this newsletter. I wanted to have images with a smile—I was lucky.


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Why Labor Day is the Hardest Working Day for Some People



Walk in the city someone built for you and say. “Thank You.”
Drive on the road someone paved for you and say, “Thank You.”
When people serve you–do not forget to say “Thank You.”


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In 1882, the idea for a Labor Day holiday was first introduced to the United States, and it became a Federal holiday in 1887. In those years, hands in the fields or the factories did the majority of labor in the country. According to Webster’s Dictionary, “labor” is defined as:

Physical or mental exertion; work, toil, or the process of childbirth.

What is interesting is that both labor related activities were first mentioned in the Torah.

“To the women He said, ‘I will greatly increase your suffering and your child bearing; in pain shall you bear children.’”—Genesis 3/16

“To Adam He said, ‘By the sweat of your brow, shall you eat bread.”—Genesis 4/2

According to Wikipedia, the highest number of employed people in our country are in the retail sales (24%). Since Labor Day is the second busiest event (after Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving), these hard working women and men work long and exhausting hours for the rest of us to enjoy our days off. 

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When I started working at the age of 15, I was a laborer—first a toolmaker, then an auto mechanic. (And later, I became an engineer.) You can read more about my humble start in the workforce in my first book, “The Mortgage Game: The 5 C’s and How to Connect Them”.

After we moved to Israel, on my first day of work, I held a welding torch in my hands, and I managed the construction of large steel industrial projects later on. In the United States, my first job was working as a handyman for a general contractor.

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All of this was a while ago. Today, many Americans’ jobs are spent at desks in front of computers. Even work done by robots is overseen by people.
I work long hours and it does not feel laborious, while what my colleagues and I do is stressful. The only pain I suffer from is emotional, when I sometimes cannot help my clients get a mortgage.
To whom then does Labor Day apply to?

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The holiday belongs to the hardworking women and men who work in the fields to bring food to our table. To the cleaning ladies and men who help us enjoy our lives, or those who work in restaurant kitchens, to feed us after our hard day at work in our offices.

It also belongs to Mothers, who (thanks to the miracles of modern medicine) have less pain, but who really labor to bring beautiful children into our world full with beauty.

As far as the rest of us are concerned, we are just getting a free ride. Enjoy it (and spend money to help improve the economy).

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P.S.

The photo portraits are my humble contribution to the hard working laborers.

  1. To the woman who controlled traffic in front of our house during the road repair.
  2. To a gardener I met in Palm Springs.
  3. To a seller of the San Francisco Chronicle who works on West Portal.
  4. To a young executive chef in Santa Fe (unfortunately the restaurant closed).
  5. To a contractor I met on Fillmore Street.


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Best Wishes,

Manny
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