The Plagiarist's dilemma--stealing, lying, and impersonation.

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The Talmud (BT Chullin 94a-b) records that it is forbidden to mislead people. Rabbinic commentaries in the centuries following the Talmud all affirm the same position.

Genevat da’at is not only taking someone else’s ideas. It may be stealing someone’s heart by inviting a person to a dinner when you know he can’t attend or feigning interest in something you have no intention of purchasing thereby wasting a clerk’s time (this particular instance is questionable in a consumer-based society where the maker of the product is not necessarily the vendor). Deceit may come in the form of giving someone advice which is self-serving and does not benefit the recipient. The best way to rectify this problem is to follow the advice of Ethics of the Fathers and make sure to credit those who give us good ideas. They make us look smart. We don’t look less intelligent because we give others credit but look more humble because we do.

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Erica Brown

Dr. Erica Brown is the Director for Adult Education at The Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning and consults for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She is an author-winning author and the recipient of the 2009 Covenant Award. Erica has served as an adjunct professor at American University and George Washington University. She lectures on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership.