Rabbi Noach Muroff needed to buy a desk and decided a used one would be the best choice for himself and his family. He finds the right desk at the right price but when he brings it home, it is too large to fit through the doorway of his office. There is no choice but to dismantle the desk and hope it can be properly reassembled on the other side of the door.
When the desk is taken apart, the rabbi finds an unexpected surprise; tucked into one of its crannies is a bag containing ninety-eight thousand dollars. The bag and the money were clearly left inside the desk by accident.
Knowing the right thing to do, Rabbi Muroff calls the seller and then goes to her house to return the money. She is, of course, surprised and very grateful. A modest man who has no wish to call attention to himself, Rabbi Muroff tells no one the story except for his own personal rabbi. His rabbi has a different opinion on keeping the story secret; he feels it would bring honor to the Jewish people if Rabbi Muroff’s story were widely known. So Rabbi Muroff begins to speak about his good deed in more public forums, including to his young students, emphasizing the need for proper behavior and for heeding Torah precepts. Discussions are sparked far and wide as the story spreads, eventually coming to the attention of the media, which promptly publicizes it, leading to important conversations among many groups about human relations and the need to be honest in all one’s interactions. As Rabbi Muoff’s rabbi had predicted, the story reflected wonderfully on the Jewish community.
Based on a true story, with simple and effective illustrations in vivid color, and with attention paid to the role of the children who observe this good deed in action, this story will certainly lead to important discussions about moral behavior and mitzvot.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.