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From: rhendel@king.mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 19:11:50 -0400 Subject: Is Cheating On Tests OK If Other People do It There have been some [discussion on] MJ on cheating (e.g. V24 #11 Fine]. I would like to raise for *serious* discussion a possible heter. Suppose it is the practice for people to cheat on one word answers or if say they forgot 1-2 pieces of information. Can it be argued that this creates a societal norm that legitimizes that practice? Let me be emphathic that I oppose cheating. However I would like a halachic answer to a halachic problem. It is well known in the laws of Sales (in all cultures) that *practice creates norms which in turn create permissability*. Examples can be found in Rambam Laws of Sale, Chapt 18,19..I list some: (a) Selling of a complicated appliance (cars, computers, vcrs) requires you to include all accessories "normally" done and you need not include others (b) Selling of filtered items (oils, wines, etc) requires you to have normal purity but does not require total purity. Before "walking away" from the issue let me quote other sources: (c) Measurement standards explicitly exclude any misrepresentation (even to the extent of measuring liquids by pouring from a height since the resulting bubbles confuse perception of the true volume) since the Torah prohibits any misrepresentation in measurement (Theft, 8, Rambam). So what about cheating on tests. Can a student legitimately argue that they are being hurt if they aren't allowed to cheat on 1-2 word answers or take 1-2 items from a neighbor since "everyone else does it", it is hard to stop that small a cheat, *and* they aren't really misrepresenting their broad knowledge structures. I think the question legitimate (even if allowed; teachers could reemphasize long essay questions). I think it deserves a halachic response in light of the 3 example classes I quote above. Russell Hendel, rhendel @ mcs . drexel . edu