Mar 30, 2014

Interesting Psak: cheating in school

Is cheating allowed in school? copying work?

Surprisingly enough, it depends who you ask.

While many poskim will say it is prohibited to cheat in school, I can even see some giving perhaps a private, not public, psak saying ti is allowed. I cannot even think of any rationale that works, but I can fathom it happening. I cannot fathom a rav giving a public, general, psak that cheating is allowed.

Yet it happened.

Rav Avraham Yosef, Chief Rabbi of Holon, paskened so on the Moreshet "Ask The Rabbi" site.

The questioner asked:
My friend needs to submit work in university. She took work prepared by somebody else and asked me to help her rewrite it so it would not look noticeably the same (the original was submitted to the same professor).
I think the professor is aware of the industry of recycling schoolwork in his course (the fact is that he gives the exact same material), but I am not sure. Am I allowed to help my friend rewrite the work?

Rav Yosef answered simply:
It is allowed, and it is a mitzva of gemilut chessed (kindness), especially if she knows the material.

Understandably this psak raised a firestorm. I still cannot believe any rav would give such a psak in public.

A students organization wrote complaining about the psak saying it is prohibited by university rules, as well as immoral.

In all the various articles I saw regarding this subject, including on the frum websites, in none of them does Rav Yosef respond and explain his psak or his rationale.

It makes no sense to me. His answer does not even make sense to me. gemilut chessed to cheat?

In my attempt to be dan lkaf zchus, give him the benefit of the doubt, this is the explanation I was able to come up with.

Possibly, Rav Yosef misunderstood the original question. Perhaps he understood the question to be not about cheating and copying schoolwork, but to be about helping another student write the work rather than making her write it herself. Perhaps Rav Yosef understood the question to be if she can help her friend write her paper or not. And to that Rav Yosef responded that it is ok to, it is gemilut chessed, as long as the student knows the material, so the helper isnt the one really writing the paper.

That's the best I could come up with, though to be honest the question seems pretty straightforward and difficult to misunderstand. I wish he would explain himself, because as it is with this public psak out saying it is allowed to cheat, all it causes is a chilul hashem,



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1 comment:

  1. I recall that Rav Aviner not even ten years ago gave an SMS answer that allowed copying music but has since prohibited it. This answer permitting copying is very weird.

    ReplyDelete

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