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February 2, 2023

This Rabbi’s Good Deed Should Be a Question on the Ethics Exam

This situation easily reads like the kind of question you might see on the ethics exam if, you know, the ethics exam were actually about ethics and not the importance of CYA:

1. You have just purchased a cheap second hand $150 desk on Craigslist. It doesn't fit through the door, and when you go to dismantle it so you can get it into your office, you find $98,000 in cash has been stashed inside. You:

A) Purchase a car wash business so you can launder the money, erasing any trail back to you

B) Go on a shopping spree, converting the bills into goods with no paper trail

C) Contact the woman you purchased the desk from, ask her if she is missing $98,000 and offer to return her money to her

D) Strip down to your skivvies, fill up the bathtub with $100 bills and swim in your new stash a la Scrooge McDuck

Rabbi Noah Muroff probably didn't expect he'd find $98,000 stashed inside a cheap desk he bought off Craigslist earlier this year, but that's exactly what happened. Instead of pocketing the money like most people might do — even the most ethical among us would probably consider just for a moment that keeping it technically would not be stealing — he contacted the woman he bought the desk from and returned the cash to her.

She claims she stashed her inheritance in the desk and then forgot it was there.

Muroff and his wife went back to the woman's house the following day with their four children to return the money and he said he hopes his deed sends "the message of honesty and integrity."

Heartwarming, really. Except the part about a lady forgetting she put the money in a desk in the first place and then selling it on Craigslist.


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