Moishe the Beadle integrates himself into town by not being presumptuous, fading into the background of the townspeople's lives instead of directly interacting with them. Elie notes that while his community has tendencies to help the needy, they don't usually like them. Moishe is different. He makes himself "invisible," bothering no one, and the community respects that about him.
Yet this deeply spiritual man notices something different about Elie. He notes the young boy's tearful prayers and begins to question him about his faith. Why does Elie cry while he's praying? Why does he pray at all? Elie isn't sure how to answer such questions, and he and Moishe begin a spiritual friendship where they engage in deep, reflective conversations outside of traditional worship. Moishe tells young Elie that "man comes closer to God through the questions he asks Him," which will become one of Elie's foundational principles that helps him survive the long nights in concentration camps which he doesn't even realize is his future at this point.
Elie confides in Moishe that he longs to know more about Jewish mysticism, and Moishe begins to instruct him in this area. Together they study not just to know the Zohar by heart but to learn "the very essence of divinity."
Later, Moishe is taken captive and manages to escape. He returns to warn the townspeople of their impending fate, but no one believes him. They believe that Moishe has simply lost his mind, which is a more comfortable reality for them to believe. Only when German soldiers in town begin to restrict the basic movements of the townspeople does Moishe seem to be taken more seriously. He returns to tell Elie's family, says, "I warned you," and leaves without waiting around for a response.
Moishe comes to symbolize both the commitment to the Jewish faith and the strength to ask God the tough questions, which will become Elie's constant source of struggle as he faces the darkest nights of his life.