Thursday, May 9, 2019



Rabbi Returns $98k He Found in Desk Bought on Craigslist
Nov. 12, 2013
A Connecticut rabbi who bought a used desk on Craigslist for $150 discovered that it wouldn't fit through the door into his study. As he took the desk apart to get it inside, a bag containing $98,000 fell out.
Noah Muroff's windfall did not last long. The next day, with his four kids along, he took the money back to the desk's original owner.
The woman "was totally speechless" when she got a call from Muroff at 11:30 p.m. that night to let her know what they had found.
"She was so shocked and touched that anyone would call," he said. "She said, 'You could have kept the money, and nobody would have ever known.'"
Muroff, of New Haven, Conn., bought a desk for his study on Craigslist for $150 and went with his wife to pick up the piece of furniture from the owner's house, he told
He loaded the desk into his minivan, but found it was too large to fit through the room's doorway. So the couple took the desk apart to get it inside.
When they removed the two filing cabinets from the desk, they found a plastic shopping bag between its drawers that appeared to have money inside, he said. Upon counting up the bills, the contents totaled $98,000.
"If we didn't take those drawers out, we never found have found it," he said.
Muroff, a rabbi who teaches ninth grade at Yeshiva of New Haven, said he and his wife immediately felt that they had an obligation to return the money to the desk's original owner.
"We both agreed that this is not our money," he said. "If God wants us to have $98,000, he'll make sure to give it to us in some other way."….
The next day, Muroff met with the desk's seller to bring her the missing fortune. He also brought his four young children along to teach them a lesson about "honesty and doing that which is right," he said.
Muroff said he and his wife agreed it was best not to take a reward for the good deed, but the woman presented them with a gift bag anyway.
Inside, she wrote a note and gave them back the original $150 they spent on the desk.
"I do not think there are too many people in this world that would have done what you did by calling me. I do like to believe that there are still good people left in this crazy world we live in. You certainly are one of them," the woman wrote. "I cannot thank you enough for your honesty and integrity."

The Torah commands us to be holy.[1] It relates to a Jew’s obligation to live his life in a manner that causes other people to love G-d.[2]
Being holy entails not only constantly striving to improve one’s connection with G-d, but also to be a person who thinks and cares about others, not to live selfishly, and to think about the perspective and plight of others.   
Ramban understands that the directive to be holy means that one should not be a repulsive or gluttonous person. One can keep all the laws of the Torah and yet be vulgar and crass. The mitzva of being holy obligates a person to be pleasant and dignified, an example of morality and sterling character.  

 “When you will sacrifice a Shelmamim (peace) offering to Hashem, sacrifice it so that it will be accepted. It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it and the next day, but what is left over on the third day shall be burned in fire… And when you will reap the harvest of your land, do not reap all the corners of your field… to the poor and the convert you shall leave them, I am Hashem, your G-d.”[3]
What is the connection between the laws of separating the obligatory gifts for the poor and the previous discussion of the proper procedure to offer a korban? In fact, the Torah seems to stress the connection by introducing the laws of the obligatory gifts with the conjunctive “and” as if it’s connected with the previous laws?
Birchas Ish explains with a parable:
There was a world-class chef who had a reputation for his exquisite delicacies and magnificent culinary creations. People would travel great distances to taste his food, and the chef’s reputation spread far and wide.
One day the chef decided that he could do even better if he moved from his small village to the capital. However, the law of the land was that before one could move to the capital, he had to obtain permission from the king. The chef wrote a letter to the king requesting the honor of catering a royal banquet for the king in the palace. He reasoned that if he impressed the king with his talents, the king would be more than happy to allow him to move to the capital.
As soon as permission was granted, the chef diligently set to work in the palace kitchen. Delectable smells began wafting from the kitchen, and soon the feast was the talk of the palace. The king himself commented that he had never experienced such wonderful smells.
The day of the party arrived, and the elite members of the government and the king’s family filled the royal banquet hall. The tables were magnificently set, and everything looked perfect. The trumpet blared and the king himself entered the room and took his place at the head of the table. The chef emerged from the kitchen and personally brought out the first dish. As he removed the cover, the most wonderful smell filled the room, and everyone raised themselves up slightly to get a glimpse of the perfect and beautiful appetizer. But to the chef’s shock the king looked displeased. The king apologized and told the chef that he had lost his appetite. The chef smiled meekly and reassured his majesty that there would be plenty of other dishes that the king was sure to enjoy. But it was not to be. Despite the beauty and perfection of each dish, as each appetizer and entrée were brought before him the king looked paler. When he tried to sample a small amount of the food he began to gag. When the chef began to call for a doctor, the king waved him off.
The king turned to the chef and asked him if he knew of a certain individual from his hometown. The chef replied that he did. The king then continued, “You should know that that individual is my son. I was forced to send my son away from the palace so that he could learn the ways of the world and fend for himself. I sent him to a distant province where he would not be able to rely on me and would have to make it on his own. But things were very hard for him and he often went hungry. He would often write to me about how hard things were for him. He also told me that in his village there was a world-renowned chef from whom he would often ask for some scraps of food from his lavish feasts and ostentatious parties. But the chef paid no attention to him, and he and his family continued starving.”
The king continued, “Now I realize that you are the chef my son spoke of. Do you think I can enjoy the distinctive aromas and palatable dishes you prepared when I know how much pain they have caused my son, his wife, and my grandchildren? Can I enjoy foods from someone who had the ability to help my family but chose to turn a blind eye from his pain? If you really wish to serve and honor me, I would rather you take all the foods you have prepared and bring them to my son and his family so they can enjoy them.”
The Torah instructs the person offering his korbon that he ensures that it is being offered in a manner that will help him find favor in the eyes of Hashem. That includes that it be offered with proper intent and that he eats it within the allotted time. But then the Torah adds another point: If one wants his korban to find favor in the eyes of G-d, he should ensure that he is properly adhering to the laws of the gifts of the poor. If a person is not doing so, then G-d views it in the same manner as the king in the previous parable: “How can I enjoy the beautiful korban you have brought Me, when My children are starving and you aren’t caring for them?”
It is in order to impress this message that after stating the laws of offering a korban, the Torah continues “And when you reap the harvest”, reminding us to make sure to leave behind the gifts of the poor. What kind of korbon is it if the person bringing it didn’t care for those needy and less fortunate?!

When we think of holiness, perhaps our first thoughts turn to long prayers and engagement in Torah study. But to achieve holiness one also must elevate his interpersonal relationships. He must strive to live beyond himself, and to be a person who sanctifies G-d’s Name by the way he lives his life.

“And when you will reap the harvest of your land”
“Be holy”
Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – Heichal HaTorah
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor

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[1] Vayikra 19:2 “Speak to the whole assembly of B’nai Yisroel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, Hashem, your G-d, am holy.”
[2] Yoma 86a
[3] Vayikra 19:5-10


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