Pidyon Kaparot Now

Cheating to Help Friend

My friend’s mother is very sick, and my friend had to miss school for a while to help out her family. We have an assignment due very soon, and our teacher, under no circumstances, will accept late work. My friend very kindly asked me for the answers. Should I give her the answer / cheat and help out my friend, or do I not share my answers with her and let her fail. Thank you.

Answer:

This is a difficult ethical dilemma.

It appears that you should not give the answers, though I understand the discomfort involved.

The Tosefta (Bava Kama 7:3, as cited by the Ritva and other authorities) states that of several types of thieves (three, or seven, depending on the textual version of the Tosafta) geneivat daat — theft of the heart — is the more severe. See also Rambam, Hilchos De’os 2:6.

Cheating/copying assignments is effectively “theft of the heart” (geneivat daat), and is wrong to do.

In this case, however, the teacher’s behavior is very unethical, and the principle should be contacted (by your friend’s parents) to give her extra time.

[I understand the case might be theoretical, but I’ve answered as though it was a true scenario.]

Best wishes.

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