Commentary Magazine


The Casket Joke

March Joke

Fried and Berkman were partners for 40 years. Fried was a generous man, giving to charity, helping out relatives, and always giving to alms-seekers. Berkman was stingy, parsimonious, and ungenerous. But he kept the books perfectly and was scrupulous. One day Fried says, “You’re such a cheapskate, Berkman, I’ll bet you won’t even buy flowers for my funeral.”

 “First,” Berkman says, “Jews don’t do flowers at funerals. But I promise you better. I will put ten thousand dollars into your casket.”

“You will?” Fried says. “I want that notarized.” He calls in their accountant.

They write it up. Berkman signs it. The accountant notarizes it.

A year later, Fried dies. Everyone at the firm is heartsick. They go to the funeral. The casket is sitting there. Berkman asks the widow if he can have a moment alone with the body. She says yes. He goes in and comes back.

At the cemetery, as the casket is being lowered into the ground, the accountant says to Berkman, “Come on, Berkman. You didn’t put ten thousand dollars in there.”

“Certainly I did,” Berkman says. “I’ll show you the carbon copy in my checkbook.”

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