Judaism’s focus on religious deeds could easily slip into rigidity, judgementalism, and hypocrisy, were it not for the extensive attention our tradition pays to issues of character, integrity, decency and lovingkindness. Without these inner virtues and acts of caring, ritual observance become offensive to God.iii As we learn in Tanna de-Vei Eliyahu, “Let a person first do good deeds, and then ask God for Torah. Let a person first act as righteous and upright people act, and then ask God for wisdom. Let a person first grasp the way of humility, and then ask God for understanding.” To function as Jews, let alone as Rabbis, mentschlikhkeit is an absolute requirement, and decency, honesty, modesty, gentleness and openness are prerequisites to religious observance. In the Ziegler School community we understand that mitzvot bein adam le-havero (interpersonal commandments) are no less commanded than mitzvot bein adam la-Makom (ritual commandments). The halakhot regarding speech, tzedakah and respect for others are all critical to living as religious Jews.
In that regard, deliberate plagiarism is incompatible with the values and calling of the rabbinate. Involving as it does, the sins of hasagat g’vul, g’neivah, and the violation of b’shem omro, the School maintains a zero tolerance to any act of plagiarism. Rabbinical students are perceived as religious leaders and role models from the very beginning of their training, and as such, need to model the values to which our God calls us.