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The Muroff Moment

Malky Lowinger

It was clear I had to return the money to make a kiddush Hashem. I also wanted to avoid the potential for a chillul Hashem

Thursday, October 13, 2016

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TRabbi Noach Muroff, 31, Atlanta, Georgia

The Muroff Moment
 

The moment I became a household name

 Three years ago, my wife Esther and I bought a desk on Craig’s List and brought it home. It didn’t quite fit into my office, so we had to take it apart. When we did, we found a shopping bag behind the file cabinet drawers in which there was $98,000 in cash! Patty, the woman we bought the desk from, had told us she’d purchased it at Staples and assembled it herself, so we knew right away it was her money. I had learned the different halachos of aveidas akum, and it was clear I had to return the money to make a kiddush Hashem. I also certainly wanted to avoid the potential for a chillul Hashem.

We called Patty right away, at 11 that night. She was totally blown away and in tears. She couldn’t believe that we called her — it was her inheritance, and she hadn’t been able to find it because it fell behind the drawer. The next morning, we went to return the money and took along our four children, as we saw this as a unique chinuch opportunity. We kept the desk, of course.

That would have been the end of that. But a few months later we met Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky at a regional Torah Umesorah convention in Boston and told him what happened. He said we should publicize the story. So I called the local CNN and they sent down a camera crew to interview us.

In the beginning

I grew up in Ottawa, Canada — not your typical Brooklyn guy. I learned in Eretz Yisrael as a bochur and then stayed for kollel. After that, we moved back to the States where I took a job teaching ninth through twelfth grade at a small yeshivah in Connecticut. The desk story happened just as we were starting our fifth year there.

 

How my life changed

Things got crazy after that. Besides CNN, I went on the FOX morning news show, FOX and Friends. Then it was phone interviews, radio shows, newspaper articles, even the BBC from London. The story was all over. The school where I worked was getting e-mails. I was getting text messages. I don’t even know how these reporters got my contact information. It was insane. The funny thing was that Patty knew that the story was going to be on Connecticut news because I told her in advance, but she was a bit surprised when she woke up and saw the story on Good Morning America!

For the most part, I’m still the same guy. I try to do the right thing. But in a way I’ve also changed. We’re living in Atlanta now, and because I’ve taken on more of a kiruv role here, my story can be used to inspire others. My goal is to share the story and be mekadeish Sheim Shamayim.

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