For R’ Ephraim Moscowitz, a word of encouragement wasn’t enough. He personally came and helped make a minyan mincha. And when he saw a homeless man with no socks, he knew just what to do. A memory by Chicago Shliach Rabbi Levi Notik.
By Rabbi Levi Notik – shliach and director of F.R.E.E. of Chicago
One snowy afternoon in the winter of 2005.
I was standing outside F.R.E.E. struggling to gather a Minyan for Mincha.
Reb Ephraim Moscowitz arrives.
He would selflessly make the effort to come and help out.
R’ Ephraim always had an encouraging comment, a joke, a supportive message for a then young Rabbi trying to organize a Minyan at 4 pm.
He goes to his usual place, the fancy library table.
The one that conceals your feet when you’re sitting down.
And gets ready to Daven.
Suddenly the doors open
In walks a disheveled-looking guy
Ripped pants, not much of a coat, and holes in his shoes that reveal he’s not wearing any socks.
He’s literally shivering from the cold.
His name is Feivel and sadly he’s homeless.
He puts on a yarmulka, and immediately proceeds to get a cup of hot tea while murmuring to himself.
And then I hear the loud deep voice of R’ Ephraim.
“Hey you, why don’t you put on some socks? It’s cold outside”
“I don’t have any socks,” the man replied and walked away while drinking his tea.
We finally did get a minyan and I began Ashrei.
When we finished davening I noticed that something is different with Mr. Moscowitz.
He’s unusually quiet.
He’s glued to his chair, he’s not walking around.
Not getting a Sefer nor interacting with people.
He’s normally the life of the Shul.
I’ll admit I was nosy.
I snuck up behind him and looked under the table.
Mr. Moscowitz is not wearing socks!
I then rushed to the homeless guy who was refilling his tea.
Sure enough he now is wearing socks!
At some point Reb Ephraim quietly removed his socks.
In the cold winter.
And gave it to another person in need.
Not a few coins.
His own socks, off his feet.
To a complete stranger.
And he made sure that no one noticed.
Because no one has to know.
But that night under the bridge at McCormick St. and Devon Ave.
Fievel was wearing socks on his feet
Thanks to Mr. Moscowitz’s care.
May his Neshomo have an Aliya and his illustrious family a nechomo.