Lighting up the World:The Noah Muroff Story

This week the world can stand up and  cheer for  a new hero –Noah Muroff. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the story will. Noah Muroff is that fellow from New Haven Connecticut who returned the  $98,000 in cash he found in the back of a second hand desk he’d bought on Craig’s list. As one of the newscasters who reported his story observed “in our grab what you can world, Muroff’s honesty is remarkable.” Yes that is true, but what is even more remarkable is the natural way Muroff went about doing something others could hardly conceive of.

“The first thing my wife and I thought when we found the money was that we had to give it back,” Muroff said. It isn’t as if Noah Muroff didn’t need the money. He isn’t a hedge fund owner . Nor is he a Powerball winner or a rap star. He teaches at a yeshiva high school—not a lucrative profession by any means.But dishonesty wasn’t on his radar.

The subject Muroff teaches at the high school is Talmud.  More than anything the Talmud is about honesty, even when no one is looking over your shoulders except G-d. Muroff clearly practices what he preaches. Not only that he wanted his children to learn a lesson and he brought them along with him to watch when he returned the money to it’s owner.

Interestingly Muroff  did struggle with something ; the question of whether he should share his story with others. Judaism teaches man to “walk privately with G-d” which means not to publicize one’s own goodness.

It was only after conferring with Rabbi Shmuel Kamentsky, who is one of the world’s leading Torah sages that Muroff went public. That was only because Rabbi Kamenetsky thought the story would be a great kiddush Hashem the sanctification of G-ds name  which happens whenever Jews behaves as we are supposed to.

In earlier times Jews like Noah Muroff, ehlicher Yidden, honest Jews were a cultural  norm. The association dates to Biblical times and  Jacob the Patriarch whose story not coincidentally appears in this weeks’ Torah portion—who was known for his consumate honesty.

With supposedly “orthodox” crooked businessmen and sexual perverts attracting grabbing headlines it almost seems like Jewish honesty and integrity has gone out of style.

Thank G-d, Noah Muroff  has  come along to save the day. His story is a reminder that when a Jew does the right thing, he lights up the whole world. END

About the Author
Carol Ungar is a prize-winning author, writing teacher and food blogger. She has several sons who study in yeshivot. Her husband is an IDF veteran who served in Gaza during the first intifada..