Israeli Rabbi Rules: Plagiarism Is Kosher

Son of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef says student would be doing a 'mitzvah' helping her friend copy someone else's academic paper.

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A prominent Israeli rabbi has ruled this week that plagiarizing academic papers is acceptable according to Jewish law.

Rabbi Avraham Yosef, Holon's chief rabbi and the son of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was asked by a university student in an online forum whether Jewish law permits submitting someone else's paper as your own.

The message read: "My friend needs to submit a paper in one of her university classes. She took someone else's paper from a previous year and asked me to change the wording so the paper won't look the same (the paper will be handed in to the same lecturer). I believe that the lecturer is aware that many students recycle papers in his course since every year he gives the exact same assignment – but I'm not sure. Am I allowed to help my friend reword the paper?"

Rabbi Yosef answered that she is, in fact, allowed to do so, and even said that she would be doing "the mitzvah of charity" – especially if she is well acquainted with the material.

A student group affiliated with the religious Zionist movement Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah condemned Yosef's comments. "How did he think to answer this way? It is an immoral act – how can it ever be justified?"