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Freethought Matters. Action Alerts. Active Action Alerts. Archived Action Alerts. Freethought Now Blog. Blog Archives. Timeless Topics. Leo Rosten, the writer, scholar and language maven who introduced millions of Americans to the deep lexical pleasures of chutzpah and shlemiel and kibitz and nosh, died yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was As Mr. Rosten described the book's purpose in his introduction: ''It illustrates how beautifully a language reflects the variety and vitality of life itself; and how the special culture of the Jews, their distinctive style of thought, their subtleties of feeling, are reflected in Yiddish; and how this in turn has enhanced and enriched the English we use today.

Over the years, ''The Joys of Yiddish'' has become the de facto standard reference work on the language, serving as a bridge between the world of Mr. Rosten's forebears and that of the more assimilated readers of our own age. Although the book quickly became a best seller, the critic Irving Howe kibitzed Mr. Rosten in The New York Times Book Review for uprooting Yiddishisms from their larger cultural context and for shlepping out Borscht Belt humor that was already old in his grandparents' day. Rosten countered. But in the end, it was Mr. Rosten's mother -- who then? When ''The Joys of Yiddish'' was published, she telephoned her son the writer.

What united Mr. Rosten's output was his finely tuned ear for language in all its richness. In his books, he guided readers through the nuanced worlds of meaning that lie hidden beneath a joke, an idiom or a vocal inflection. And what he revealed was nearly always good for a laugh.


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Rosten said in a interview. Rosten's delight in the comic possibilities of language was nowhere more evident than on the lips of his most famous creation, Hyman Kaplan, whom critics have compared to the comic characters of Dickens and Shakespeare. Inspired by a former night-school student from Mr. Rosten's own teaching days, Kaplan, a Mr. Malaprop by way of Ellis Island, embodied both the perils and the pride of the immigrant experience. Hyman Kaplan made his debut in in a series of New Yorker stories; the stories were later published in book form under the pseudonym Leonard Q. Money can't buy happiness, but neither can poverty.

When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is. This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.

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Money may be the husk of many things but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintance, but not friends; servants, but not loyalty; days of joy, but not peace or happiness. This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Money can't buy happiness, but it does quiet the nerves. What's the use of happiness? It can't buy you money. Take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.

Beingness, doingness and havingness are like a triangle where each side supports the others. They are not in conflict with each other. They all exist simultaneously. Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: They try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so that they will be happier.

Leo Rosten

The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want. We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it. Money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery. Money can't buy you happiness but it can pay for the plastic surgery.

He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has. Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.

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Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort. The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness.

The more of it one has the more one wants. Money can't buy happiness—but it can buy beer.

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