R’ Moshe Kauders z”l, of Lakewood, passed away at the age of 52 on February 6th after a lengthy illness, lived the life of a “poshute Yid”; yet his unassuming nature was really a mask for the very special person he was.R’ Moshe grew up in Williamsburg but attended school in Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalaim (MTJ) in Manhattan. As a boy, he would walk to school over the Williamsburg Bridge every day. Rain or shine, he never missed a day. He related that he once walked in such a strong blizzard that he had to walk backwards over the bridge to avoid having the fierce winds and snow hit him directly in the face. He still made it over the bridge to yeshiva, as he did every day due to his great devotion to learning.
During recess, while his classmates ran outside to play ball, he would take his beloved Gemara outside and sit and learn on the side of the yard. He chose Maseches Makos as “his Masechta”, reviewing it over and over again on his own time. By the time he got married, he had made over 100 siyumim on Makos.
In his high school yearbook, he penned a fascinating article on chinuch, focusing on the point that children learn more “with their eyes” than with their ears, meaning they are educated by what they see and by the example their parents set. He explained that if a child comes home and sees his father learning, he will want to emulate him and copy what he sees. Even as a teenager, R’ Moshe had the maturity and clarity of hashkafa to write such an insightful article.
After his wedding, he originally settled in New York. When his oldest child reached school age, 16 years ago, the family moved to Lakewood to take advantage of the chinuch Lakewood has to offer. During the first years he lived in Lakewood, he commuted to his job in Manhattan every day. When he had lived in New York, he would daven in Emunas Yisroel because he appreciated the long, slow and serious davening. After moving to Lakewood, he still wished to daven in Emunas Yisroel – so he would wake up at 3am, drive to Boro Park, daven in Emunas Yisroel, and then take a bus from there to Manhattan. He did this for a number of years, so great was his dedication to having a serious and heartfelt Shacharis every day. He later began working locally, taking a job in Kosher World. He was always happy with the parnassah Hashem gave him, living with extreme emunah peshutah and simchas hachaim.
He chose to daven in the Skverer Shtibel because of their strict policy against all talking during the tefilos. Although he was not chasidish and he davened Nusach Ashkenaz, he opted to daven in Skver because not talking during davening meant so much to him.
He would awaken very early every day, come to shul well before then start of davening, and say Tehillim with devotion for quite some time. For ten to fifteen minutes before Shacharis every day, he would simply sit in his seat and think about the Ribono Shel Olam, preparing himself in this way to speak to Him.
He greatly enjoyed telling over divrei Torah on the parshah and brought joy to many with his enthusiastic retelling of his original peshatim. Every time he would say over a devar Torah, even if he had already told it to many people, he would say it with the same geshmak and excitement as if it were his first time relating it.
R’ Moshe could be seen sitting by himself for hours, learning until very late at night. This was how he spent much of his day, every day. On Shabbos, after a full week of working, he would sit in shul on Friday night, learning for hours after the seudah. On Shabbos afternoon, he delivered a shiur on Chovos Halevavos to all the children in the neighborhood. Instead of taking a nap, he would invite all the neighborhood kids to his house, and he would emotionally describe the nifla’os haboreh and the many chasadim Hashem does for us each day. He spent a tremendous amount of time preparing the shiur to make sure it was both interesting and inspiring.
He constantly thought of others and tried to make everyone else feel good. He would think up his own quips and jokes, and tell them to anyone he felt could use a quick pick-me-up. He eagerly attended everyone else’s simchos, actively participating in the happiness and never coming just “abi yotzeh tzu zein.” He also would often sing songs that he composed himself in honor of a simcha, in this way bringing much joy to the baalei simcha.
R’ Moshe was an excellent chess player, and, as a way to bring enjoyment to local children, would offer them chess lessons for free.
Even when he was in the hospital, suffering from the illness that would claim his life, he was always in a good mood. He would actually cheer up his visitors, as well as the doctors and nurses, spreading joy to them all, despite his own suffering.
R’ Moshe’s neighbor, Rabbi Mendy Gelbwachs, relates that he visited him in Leisure Chateau on Chol Hamoed Sukkos, when a musician came in to play music for the residents. R’ Moshe asked R’ Mendy to wheel his wheelchair over to the musician so he could compliment him on his skills. He told him, “You played so well. I think you should put out a CD. I will be the first one to buy it!”. The musician was very moved that someone in so much pain was thinking of complimenting him and making him happy at that time.
R’ Mendy adds that R’ Moshe always peppered their conversations with words of Torah. He rarely was interested in schmoozing about mundane topics, and always steered conversations to Torah. For example, when he had a bandage on his head, he would bring up the topic of chatzitzah for tefillin. Recently, R’ Mendy visited R’ Moshe and, as he was about to leave, realized that R’ Moshe had not brought up any Torah-related topics. He realized that the situation was very dire. Right before R’ Mendy left, R’ Moshe, who could no longer walk, asked him,“When I come back home, will you help me get to shul?”. That was his biggest concern.
R’ Moshe suffered from a brain tumor, which caused him excruciating headaches, yet he never complained. Only one time, he mentioned to his wife that his head was hurting, and he asked if she could get him a Tylenol. The doctors later discovered that he had suffered a major medical episode that caused him unbearable pain. Besides for that one time, he was never heard issuing a word of complaint or asking others to do anything for him.
When R’ Moshe was taken out of his home for the last time, after collapsing and being on the brink of death,he was wheeled out by Hatzolah. As he was being wheeled to the ambulance, he asked the Hatzolah members to stop for a moment, turned to R’ Mendy and said, “Please look after my children.” His beloved children were on his mind as he faced death, and his biggest worry was that they should have someone to take them to shul, sit with them and learn with them. He then added, “If anyone wants to do something as a zechus for me, they should be careful never to talk during davening.”
R’ Moshe is survived by a beautiful family of children following in his ways of Torah and yiras shomayim. May his memory be a blessing.
R’ Moshe Kauders was a beloved member of the Lakewood community, always with a smile and a good word. He passed away following an illness, leaving an almana and 2 children. Unfortunately they have no means of support now and for the foreseeable future. The community has rallied on their behalf, yet we need the help of the broader public. The online goal of $100,000 will be vital in attaining the larger overall goal.
Please contribute generously! Der zchus zol aich bay’shtayn!