All you money types who buy hardback books, or who bought uptown tickets to Fiddler on the Roof, the Jewish musical based on Sholom Aleichem's village tales, should pick up on these pun-filled stories, because they will never give you readers' cramps. You wont's hear no atrocity fables that make you blue in the face. They simply make you half-Jewish forever if, pardon the expression, you aren't. Sholom Ilikem writes about the shtetl Jews in the Russian provinces like Chekhov laughing through tears in a prayer shawl. ""The world is in a miserable state,"" Aleichem says, ""and just on spite we ought not to cry about it."" True to his word, all his stories here are as cheerful as gold, may he forgive us for mentioning the comparison, but he made out as a humorist in the hearts and wallets of his countrymen. In Yiddish his religio-literary diction is priced by his translator as on the shelf with the Elizabethans. Tevye returns in these stories, as well as Mottel the Cantor's Son and the village of Kasrilevke. Nearly all the stories are told in first-person dialect, several as monologs. ""Methuselah"", you should believe it, is about a wreck of an overworked horse that turns Jewish in its old age, very forgiving and wise. But among so many gems, it is easier to steal like this than to choose, especially when the mountings are so verbal.