New Haven, CT – Kiddush Hashem: Mesivta Rebbe Returns $98K Found In Secondhand Desk


    Rabbi Noach Muroff displaying the 98K cash he found in the desk he bought on CraigslistNew Haven, CT – A Connecticut Rebbe received the surprise of his life when he discovered a shopping bag full of cash in a desk that he bought on Craigslist.

    New Haven resident Rabbi Noach Muroff had been searching the online classified listings for a desk for his office, finally finding one that met his needs several days before Rosh Hashana. Folding down the rear seats in his minivan, R’ Muroff went to pick up the desk, which he purchased from its original owner for $150.

    “It fit perfectly into my van but when we got home, it was about a quarter of an inch too big to fit into my office,” Rabbi Muroff told VIN News. “It was crazy that it didn’t fit by such a small amount. We tried taking the hinges off the door, but it didn’t work.”

    Instead, R’ Muroff unscrewed the top of the desk, and after doing so, noticed a white plastic shopping bag wedged in behind one of the desk’s side filing cabinets.

    “We took out the bag and we could see that there was money inside,” said R’ Muroff.

    In fact, the bag was stuffed with neatly bundled stacks of one hundred dollar bills.

    “We brought it to the table and counted it out and there was $98,000,” said R’ Muroff. “It was me, my wife and a friend who was here and we looked at it each other and said, ‘this can’t be real. This only happens in the movies.'”

    There was never a question about what to do with the money.

    “My wife and I both knew immediately that we would return it,” explained R’ Muroff. “When I was picking up the desk, the lady, who wasn’t Jewish, told me that she had bought the desk at Staples and put it together herself. We knew the money was hers and she was speechless when we called her to tell her we had found it.”

    According to R’ Muroff, the original owner of the desk, a middle aged woman identified only as Patty, knew that she had hidden her nest egg in the desk but was unable to locate it when it fell behind the filing cabinet. Assuming the money had to be somewhere else in her house, the woman sold the desk, never once suspecting that it still contained her life’s savings.

    “If we hadn’t had to take the desk apart we never would have found it,” observed R’ Muroff.

    R’ Muroff, a ninth grade Rebbe at the Yeshiva of New Haven, returned to the woman’s house the next day with his wife and four small children.

    “We took the kids along because we thought it was a good opportunity to teach them about emes,” said R’ Muroff.
    The Thank you note Rabbi Muroff received from the desk seller
    R’ Muroff consulted with his own Rebbe on what to do should a reward be proffered and while he was uncomfortable accepting anything in return for doing a mitzvah, he did so at the insistence of the desk’s original owner who also refunded the purchase price of the desk.

    “Originally, she thought I only had two kids because that was how many car seats she had seen in my van the day before. When she saw that I had four children, she went back into the house and added more money to the gift bag she gave me.”

    R’ Muroff admits that he struggled with the decision of whether or not to go public with his story for several weeks, finally agreeing to do so after discussing the matter with R’ Shmuel Kaminetzky at the Torah U’Mesorah convention in Boston several weeks ago.

    “He told me that by coming forward it would be an opportunity to make a Kiddush Hashem and it was the right way to go.”

    A heartfelt note from the desk’s owner thanked R’ Muroff for his honesty and integrity and praised him for his actions.

    “I do not think there are too many people in this world who 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.”

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    1. Great story. However, I’m sure every Torah-true Jew would do the same….I would (but only after I took a picture of myself surrounded by it all, just like Rabbi Muroff did!) Not only did the Rabbi make a Kidush Hashem, I’m certain he & his family will receive many Brachas in the future. Maybe not financial windfalls, but where it really counts…in good health & nachas. thanks for sharing this – I think it will make a very good topic for my class today.

    2. Wow..what a neesoyen…learning now the parshes with all nisyones are fathers had to go thru this store is really inspiring….the kidish hashem is so great that i am sure it will make other people think to do the same…

    3. i am sure stories like this happen often among our people but they keep it quiet – a big yasher koach to the rabbi for publicizing this – i have often told people who make a kiddush Hashem to publicize because we have so much negative press it is perhaps a bigger mitzva to publicize this than it even was to do the mitzva of hashovas aveida – i remember a friend of mine, a satmar chossid, saved the life of an african american man who was shot – i told him to publicize but he didnt want to

      • These stories happen with all people, jewish, muslim, hindu and atheists. Morals are taught by parents, regardless of religious indoctrination. There are good people in every religious group and good people in those who have no religion.

    4. As several of the prior posters have noted, we sadly have too many news stories where the world see frum yidden as a bunch of alleged or convicted fraudsters and ganovim like Dwek, SMR, etc. and fails to understand the large percentage of true bnai torah are 110 percent honest. Rav Muroff should have much hatzlacha in the years ahead.

      • Dont forget those like dwek are extreemly visible because of the huge amount they steal in the 100 s of millions sure most are honest the tragedy is human nature looks at the bad ones and judges rhe other 99 per cent of the cooreligionists. on that basis.

    5. My initial thought was like all the comments here: wow, what a kiddush hashem!
      But after giving it some thought i came up with a few questions.
      A. Why didnt he consult with a rabbi if the money is his or not?
      B. Who keeps 98k in a desk?
      C. What answer will this lady have for the IRS when they will knock at her door soon?

      • My initial thought was – wow, what an idiot – he should have kept shtum & pocketed the cash!
        But after giving it some thought, it is obviously not “a free gift from Gd” but belongs to someone who worked hard to save that amount of money – in cash! And yes he performed a kiddush Hashem by returning it, & even bigger by publicizing it.

        These are the answers I came up with for you:
        A: Because he knew the money belonged to the lady & was not his.
        B: This lady obviously did!
        C: You are assuming that this money was not already declared – she may have paid tax on it already! Even if she didn’t, I don’t think the IRS can knock on anyone’s door to collect taxes unless they know & have proof that she earned this money & has not paid tax on it. They don’t know who this lady is any more that you or I know.

      • Responses to your questions:

        1. Because intelligent yidden don’t need to consult their rav or posek for every issue in life, especially when the issue is so clear.
        2. Many normal folks got spooked about banks back in the financial meltdown in 2008 and withdrew all their cash when Citi, Wachovia etc. nearly went into liquidation. Some simply buried in the backyard, put it under the matress, or as here, hid it in their desk.
        3. The IRS doesn’t audit folks for keeping cash at home.

      • A. It obviously was not an issue – he chose to return it. Had he wanted to keep it, he would have had to ask. B. The owner’s eccentricity does not impact on t
        his act of Kiddush HaSh-m. C. The IRS would only be relevant at the time the money is earned. You pay taxes on money that you earn, not that you save.

      • 1) he doesn’t need to consult anybody if he chooses to return it out of the goodness of his heart and by thinking if this were reversed, he would’ve appreciated the same 2) whoever doesn’t want to pay taxes3)that’s not something you have to worry about…………………….

      • A. It wasn’t his therefore why even ask that question.
        B. maybe she’s an illegal alien or maybe she’s fraudulent in other ways, but that’s not his problem.
        C. Again not his problem

    6. Ya’asher koach to this mentsch who did indeed make a big Kiddush Hashem. I do not know if I could have stood up under that temptation. It saddened me, when I read the story in the secular press, that some commenters had figured out a way to hate us anyway.

    7. amazing kiddush hashem ( this is actually a case in the gemora)
      kudos to rabbi muroff and yes just by returning the money he taught us all a lesson on how a jew should act

    8. We’re finally beginning to see a trend of Yiddishe positivity in the press. Last week, the guy who allowed an AA to nap on his shoulder on the train – and now this beautiful story.

      May he be blessed with nachas from his kinderlach – this is the definition of a role model father. His children can say with pride: “Avi, Mori”

      • True, but that has nothing to do with this story or this man. in fact, just like when they do wrong you don’t bring up their good, bringing up their bad now is moot & makes no sense.

    9. In Nyc its illegal to pick up a lost wallet to return it. You get arrested if you see a lost wallet and decide to return it. This is the law my friends in our city of sodom. Conn may be different. The liberal skunks running ny are busy with corrupting our city. Crime and terrorism will climb sky high as our new mayor does away with stop and frisk as well as the spying on moslem terrorists. Be ready for a crime hurricane.

      • What are you talking about? It is not illegal to return lost property in NY. Are your politics so important to you that you make up stupid stories? As to those who are so sure that the law is that the money had to be returned, it is not that clear. He bought the desk, and the contents thereof. It is not necessarily larceny. If you buy a picture at auction for $100. and it is worth $10,000, you are not legally bound to return the picture to the original owner. This arguably is exactly the same. As to number 39..a sting operation, surely you jest.
        This man should be applauded for what he did. Those who question is motives, probably should look at themselves.

      • All New York municipalities – such as New York City – are governed by the Lost and Found Property Laws of New York STATE. Following are the relevant sections of the Consolidated Laws of New York, Article 7-B, Lost and Found Property.

        §252 [of §251-§258]

        1. [A]ny person who finds lost property of the value of twenty dollars or more… with knowledge that it is lost property or found property, shall, within ten days after the finding…EITHER RETURN IT TO THE OWNER, OR report…and deposit such property in a police station or police headquarters of the city where the finding occurred…

        3…[A]ny person who shall refuse or wilfully neglect to comply with the provisions of… subdivision one [ WHICH INCLUDES THE OPTION OF RETURNING LOST PROPERTY TO ITS OWNER ] shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.

        So New York City may Sodom, but we can’t attribute that Sodom-ness to its laws concerning lost property.

    10. Reb Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld Z”L, once saw a Non-Yid drop a valuable Aveido, and he did not return it. He explained that there is no Chiuv to give it back to Eino Yehudi, only a Lifnim Mshuras Hadin for Kiddush Hashem. So he felt that he has no right to be a Machmur on the Cheshbon of his own wife and children.
      I just never understood it, because the Eino Yehudi who lost his money, also has a wife and children who might be starving at home.
      I must congradulate this Yunger Man for a truly wonderful deed.

    11. There isn’t really the need for much analysis here. It would be Larceny under CT law for him to have kept the money. So, while I agree that this was a kiddush Hashem, at the end of the day he could have been arrested and charged with Larceny if this lady ever woke up and realized where the money went.

      • She obviously wasn’t “waking up” as you put it or she never would have sold the desk with the money inside on the first place. Second, even if she did how can you be certain she would have found him it could have been years from now & he could have changed locations. Third of all, this is Hashem at work & a remarkable man & holy rabbi doing a kidush Hashem

    12. Does any one have connections to the press? Maybe you guys with the APP plates?? The post the daily news let them print such an article for the world to see and make a kiddush hash-em

    13. To Mishelanu #21:
      My initial thought was, WOW! Such a nisayon to overcome. But I thought deep into it and into you query. I would omit question b & c, that’s totally not your business nor your problem. And I admire this REAL Rabbi for returning the money rather than keeping it, because I would b afraid it was a sting operation.

    14. So happy to see this story.
      I once had an letter delivered to my home. The post office mistook a 5 for a 3 and so it came to my door. Not bothering to even check the front, I opened it. It had 3 one hundred dollar bills in it. I realized it was a mistake and realized it was intended for an Irish woman (judging by the name) who lived about a mile away. I got in my car and drove over with the letter. Her thank you, and the kidush Hashem were worth much more than 300 dollars. It turned out to be a woman living on a fixed income who received regular envelopes from her daughter. I imagine she was too old to deal with checks. In our times, it is so important to be migadesh shem shamayim. Tizku limgyitzvos!

    15. Im not so sure if this women wants all this publicity in the media. I think he shouldnt have told her point blank that he found this money. Of course she will say “yes”! If by a yid you need to ask for simonim…
      Also, how could someone just forget about a large sum hidden? This story stinks “ad l’rokia”!

    16. Today I backed out of a parking spot very slowly and knocked into another car’s bumper, damaging it. I left a note on the windshield with my name and number. The owner called me and kept asking why I left the note and didn’t just drive away. He couldn’t believe it. By chance my wife and I had interacted with him inside the building at which we were all parked. He was there servicing some equipment. So, he saw my yarmulke and Jewish identity.

      • I’m quite certain that folks like you , and the person who returned the $300 (another commenter) and the hero of this story , bring moshiach closer. Not the rebbis that fight over $$ and create a massive chillul hashem. Kol hakovod!!

      • because every Rabbi has somebody greater than himself to ask. We are bias and we don’t want our biases to rule us. I have no doubt he will get a reward; a reward from who really counts Hashem Yisbourach. Hashem sees what a great thing he has done to bring the light of Hashem into the dark world and will reward him likewise.Kol hakavod

    17. While this is certainly an amazing story and kiddush hashem, this Rebbe is surely an amazing person and his reward will surely be paid to him 1000 times more from heaven.
      I respectfully wonder:
      1) how did he know it was her money? Maybe she also bought or received the desk

      • The story said she had told him she had built it by herself so it had to be hers. Besides, I’m sure he didn’t just call her up & say ” I found $98,000 in the desk is it yours?” I’m sure he had more brains than that

    18. While this is certainly an amazing story and kiddush hashem, this Rebbe is surely an amazing person, he asked his Rov a Shaala and listened! His reward will surely be paid to him 1000 times more from heaven. In all aspects
      Especially with so much negative stories out there.
      However, for “pilpul” sake….
      I respectfully wonder:
      1) how did he know it was her money? Maybe she also bought or received the desk from another?
      Did he ask for some identifying aspects? (amount, denominations etc) honestly I don’t buy for a minute that she knew about the money….

      2) those that comment above re the law and how he could’ve been charged with larceny etc are being ridiculous. How could anyone even begin to prove it? Even assuming she woke up one day and realized she left the money hidden in the desk. Go prove it

      3) to those that say above that after the bank crisis, many people withdrew their money, right. But they didn’t keep it in cash in a trash bag hidden in a hidden panel in a desk.

      In any case, I didn’t have this particular nisayon, but I too have had the inner pleasure of making a similar kiddush hashem numerous times. Be it when I got too much change at a store or in one memorable instance when I returned to the bank and gave the teller ( who was very annoyed at first that I cut into her current customer) an extra $100 bill she mistakenly gave me. It is a very special feeling. But I don’t know how I would’ve acted in this case.
      He should be blessed

      • “2) those that comment above re the law and how he could’ve been charged with larceny etc are being ridiculous. How could anyone even begin to prove it? Even assuming she woke up one day and realized she left the money hidden in the desk. Go prove it’

        Ah the famous last words of many criminals that are sitting in prison. In dealing with many legal matters over the years, I find that many frum people really don’t understand how legal matters are investigated and proven. They also think that no one can prove them wrong etc. Very foolish.

        • Talk about sounding foolish: you sound like a real chochom (jerk)

          I asked an intelligent question, after complimenting the guy BTW,

          I am not at all clear, that had he kept the money, any crime wouldve been committed, after all where is the proof that it was hers to begin with?
          did he steal anything? No
          did he see the proverbial wallet fall out of her pocket? No

          I havent heard, in all the comments above, that there is a legal obligation to SUSPECT that it was hers,

          And in additon, i pointed out that She would have to PROVE that there was 98k there, and how in the world would she do that??

          and just to reiterate, so C doesn’t have another apoplectic attack that I’m another Frum Criminal, I believe it was a tremendous KH and he should be blessed

    19. I am really amazed at the amount of people who said that they would not be able to withstand the nisayon of keeping the money. What’s wrong with you??? It’s clear in this story who this money belongs to.

      • Yes it is clear, but it’s also a huge nisayon & you never know what they can use the money for. Maybe you would have passed it, but maybe you’re better off than some. Whatever the case is, it’s being honest to admit they might have a problem with the nisayon

      • As the famous story goes. If you say forsure you would , you’re a fool. If you say forsure you wouldn’t you are evil. If you say you hope you will, you’re righteous.

    20. my son is in yeshiva in israel & goes there through an american program where he gets college credit. He recieves financial aid that goes to the yeshiva. last year instead of sending the payment directly to the yeshiva they sent it directly to my son, making the check out to him. It was for several thousand dollars. We are very strapped for cash & would have been able to use them money in different ways. However we both agreed that the only thing to do is to tell the college their mistake as well as the yeshiva. We both agreed that parnasa comes from H*shem & this money didn’t belong to him.

    21. It might not have been such a good idea for the rabbi to publicize his actions. There are going to be people who will refrain from putting money in the shul pushka because they will assume that the rabbi received a substantial reward for his honesty, and that, after all, the shul doesn’t need any more contributions for a while.


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