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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Sun, 2 Feb 1997 19:11:37 -0500 Subject: hy do they Cheat In a previous issue I examine the distinguishing criterian between 4 mitzvoth that do apply to non jews--theft, murder, robbery and weight deception--and 3 mitzvoth that do not apply to non jews--charity, loving them as ourselves and returning lost articles. I note that we are obligated to act justly and fairly with non jews (hence the prohibitions against theft, murder) but are NOT obligated to trust non jews (hence no obligation to e.g. return their lost articles since we do not trust that they will reciprocate).I use this perceived lack of trust to explain why poor Yeshiva students cheat. In v25n98, Carl Singer comments >>it may provide a sociological explanation, reason or excuse, but it >>doesn't to me address an underlying issue in this forum--that of Torah >>and midos>> I thank Dr Singer for allowing me to restate the middoth only mentioned in passing at the bottom of my previous posting. >>Also the remedy to this problem (of cheating students) is NOT to call >>them desecrators of G-ds name but rather to focus on their home and >>work environments so as to provide them with a sense of equity in >>which their desire to cheat would vanish In other words, it is a bad Middah and non constructive to label every cheating student as desecrating G-ds name. It is a Good Middah to try and help them achieve a sense of security. I might add that the approach of one of the giant later authorities, the Chafetz Chaiim, who is known for this work on Midoth (character traits), was precisely to do as I did in that posting: In many of this books the Chofetz Chaiim has a chapter on "Why people sin" "Why people don't give to charity" "Why people slander" etc. and the ideas can be used for self improvement. (See for example his "Love of LovingKindness" "The Fortress of Faith" etc) I might add that the approach used in my posting---conceptual distinctions between technical Biblical laws--is not often used in the therapy cases that Dr Singer himself sees..I (and other readers) would be very interested to what extent (as Carl puts it) this Torah explanation >>may provide a sociological explanation>> that is useful. Finally, I plead guilty to not solving the WHOLE problem. As Dr Singer points out: I haven't explained why people from rich families cheat. I however do think I have made a modest contribution to ONE PART of the subject and I invite people more experienced in counseling(like Dr Singer himself) to enrich this forum with the insights they have gained over the years about why people sin. Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d, ASA, rhendel @ mcs drexel edu