Mensch

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Mensch (Yiddish: מענטש, mentsh, from Middle High German Mensch, from Old High German mennisco; akin to Old English human being, man) means "a person of integrity and honor".[1]

According to Leo Rosten, a mensch is "someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being 'a real mensch' is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous."[2] The term is used as a high compliment, implying the rarity and value of that individual's qualities.

Overview[edit]

In Yiddish, mentsh roughly means "a good person".[3] The word has migrated as a loanword into American English, where a mensch is a particularly good person, similar to a "stand-up guy", a person with the qualities one would hope for in a friend or trusted colleague.[4] Mentshlekhkeyt (Yiddish: מענטשלעכקייט; German: Menschlichkeit) refers to the properties which make a person a mensch.

During the Age of Enlightenment, in Germany the term Humanität, in the philosophical sense of compassion, was used in Humanism to describe what characterizes a better human being. The concept goes back to Cicero's humanitas, which was literally translated as Menschlichkeit in German, from which the Yiddish word mentsh derives.[citation needed].

The word Mensch and the underlying concept have had an impact on popular culture. For example, the "Mensch on a Bench" is a Hanukkah-themed book and doll set. A life-size version of the doll has been adopted by Team Israel at the World Baseball Classic as their mascot. According to pitcher Gabe Cramer, "The Mensch is a great way to have fun in the dugout while reminding us of why we're here and who we're representing."[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "mensch." Merriam-Webster.
  2. ^ The Joys of Yiddish, p. 240
  3. ^ "Israel's Mensch on the Bench mascot at World Baseball Classic." Newsday.
  4. ^ Modern Philology
  5. ^ Gloster, Rob (7 March 2017). "Team Israel scores another surprise baseball win – with a Marin pitcher". J. The Jewish News of Northern California. Retrieved 12 June 2022.