The Essence of Chutzpah

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word meaning gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, sheer guts plus arrogance; it’s Yiddish and, as Leo Rosten writes, no other word, and no other language, can do it justice. This example is better than a thousand words…

A little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner for 25 cents each. Every day a young man would leave his office building at lunch time and as he passed the pretzel stand he would leave her a quarter, but never take a pretzel.

And this went on for more then 3 years. The two of them never spoke. One day as the young man passed the old lady’s stand and left his quarter as usual, the pretzel lady spoke to him.

Without blinking an eye she said:

“They’re 35 cents now.”

The young man replied, “For three years I gave you a quarter without taking a pretzel. Didn’t you realize something?”

To which she snapped, “take, don’t take, I don’t care either way. I’m just telling you that they’re now 35 cents.

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