Rabbi Avi Weinstein

The Maharal on Plagiarism, or The Long Road to Redemption.

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2016 at 9:51 am

Sometime during the death rattle of the last century, I convened a beit midrash with over five hundred Hillel students from over a hundred campuses. The topic was plagiarism. Something that I felt was immediately relevant to their academic lives. Virtually all of the students admitted that they plagiarised and they justified their actions by claiming that “everyone did it”. Just like pirating software, music etc…

Mrs. Trump’s sin was that, unlike her speechwriters, Mrs. Obama wasn’t consulted, or given appropriate attribution. In modern times one has to at least sign off on words that are not original. Even though we know that politicians have speech writers, we believe that the speaker at least believes what s/he says–even if they didn’t write it. The tradition would find this loose definition of word ownership a bit curious.

Here’s a faux Talmud page on the Gemara in Megilla 16a, as rendered in one of the Masechet Kallah. The Commentary surrounding is from the Maharal’s Derech HaChaim where he asks how is one to understand the connection between appropriate attribution and redemption. Take a look. Maharal on Plagiarism

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