A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 23, 2013
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” ("Man plans, God laughs")

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” is a saying that’s from the Yiddish proverb Der mentsh trakht und Gott lakht ("Man plans and God laughs"). Although the Yiddish proverb is much older, “Man thinks and God laughs” was cited in English print in 1970 and “A man plans and God laughs” was cited in 1975.

“How do you make God laugh? Tell Him your plans” was cited in print in 1992.


Wikipedia: Yiddish proverbs
.דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט
Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht.
Translation: Man plans and God laughs.
English equivalent; Man proposes, God disposes.
Source: Furman, Israel (1968). יידישע שפריכווערטער און רעדנסארטן. Hamenora Publishing House. p. 248.

Google Books
A Rabbi Teaches:
A Collection of Addresses and Sermons

By Herman Hailperin
New York, NY: Bloch Publishing Company
1939
Pg. 43:
Our Yiddish speaking folks used to say, Der Mensch tracht und Gott lacht — “Man proposes and God disposes.”

Google Books
1001 Yiddish Proverbs
By Fred Kogos
New York, NY: Citadel Press
1970
Pg. 20:
A mentsh tracht un Got lacht.
Man thinks and God laughs.

Google Books
In the Beginning
By Chaim Potok
New York, NY: Knopf: Distributed by Random House
1975
Pg. 66:
A man plans and God laughs. God in heaven, if there is a God in this world, how He must laugh!

Google Books
Whose Little Boy Are You?:
A Novel

By Ḥanokh Barṭov
Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society of America
1978
Pg. 298:
“Of course, sometimes, but a mentsh tracht un Got lacht — man plans and God laughs.”

Google Books
,i>Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories
By Sholem Aleichem
Translated from the Yiddish by Hillel Halkin
New York, NY: Schocken Books
1987
Pg. 34:
Al tis’haleyl beyoym mokhor — the more man plans, the harder God laughs.

Google Books
Take My Life, Please!
By Henny Youngman with Neal Karlen
Thorndike, ME: Thorndike Press
1992
Pg. 20:
I’m a comic, for Chrissakes, not a rabbi. But this is a good one, and it’s taken me eighty-six years to figure out its truth. Everybody ready? Mensh tracht, Gott lacht. (Pg. 21—ed.) Man plans, God laughs.

20 July 1992, Kansas City (MO) Star, “Stop talking? Pul-leese! Joan Rivers is back on track after suicide of husband, failed show” by Frank Rizzo, pg. D4:
Her sunny study is filled with needlepoint pillows she stitches herself with samplers that are funny but also reflect the survival side of the comedian-author-talk-show host.

“Do not expect praise without envy--unless you’re dead,” reads one. And “You can marry more money in five minutes than you can earn in a lifetime.” And “It’s just as lonely at the top--only you eat better.” And one she has just started: “How do you make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.”

15 January 1995, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “Cancer not slowing former newsman,” pg. 2A, col. 2:
NEW YORK—John Chancellor was just settling into retirement after a 43-year career as a broadcast journalist when he learned at age 67 that he had stomach cancer.
(...)
“As I read somewhere, ‘You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.’”

Google Books
You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar
By David H. Sandler
New York, NY: Dutton
1995
Pg. 16:
As John Chancellor said after he retired from broadcasting and discovered that he had cancer: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

Google Groups: rec.windsurfing
Newsgroups: rec.windsurfing
From: (Dara Hogan)
Date: 1995/11/14
Subject: Re: Windsurfing Spots in Europe
(...)
“Make God laugh - tell him your plans for the future!” (Woody Allen)

OCLC WorldCat record
Man plans, God laughs—and more wisdom from our grandparents
Author: George D Hanus
Publisher: Chicago, Ill. : World Jewish Digest, ©2008.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
We plan, God laughs : 10 steps to finding your divine path when life is not turning out like you wanted
Author: Sherre Z Hirsch
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, ©2008.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed
Summary:
A rabbi addresses the quesion of how our limited plans for the future are transformed when they do not turn out as we expect or hope and explains how we can devise a spiritual plan that reflects who we are and who we want to be.

KenBoa.org
20APR10
“If You Want to Make God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans.”
Woody Allen is credited with saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” We could add to it, “If you want to hear him laugh even louder, tell him how much you know.” Just because it’s true, however, doesn’t make it easy to accept.  It’s hard to admit that we do not know as much as we think we know.  And we certainly aren’t in control of as much as we’d like to think.  We make our plans, but it is God who controls the outcome.

Google Books
Changeology:
5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions

By John C. Norcross
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
2012
Pg. 84:
Alcoholics Anonymous has a maxim: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, March 23, 2013 • Permalink