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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Ki Tisa

Falling Grades

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An air of seriousness hung over the classroom. The only sound to be heard was the scratching of pencils against paper, as the ninth graders diligently filled in the answers of the Gemara test.
The stack of papers on Rabbi Sharabi’s desk grew, as, one by one, the students completed their tests, and handed them in. The students who hadn’t yet finished sat scribbling furiously.
Rabbi Sharabi picked up the stack of papers, in order to straighten the pile of tests. Just then, his gaze was drawn to a disturbing sight. Two students, both still with tests on their desks, had put their heads together. The fact that the two boys were whispering to each other, and furtively pointing to the papers in front of them, was not lost on Rabbi Sharabi. He felt a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Cheating! The boys in his class?!
"Boys!" yelled Rabbi Sharabi. "How could you possibly cheat on a Gemara test? I thought I could rely on ninth grade boys to take a test without cheating! What’s the point of this whole test, if you’re just going to copy each other’s answers?" The boys watched in shock, as Rabbi Sharabi took the stack of tests in his hands, and threw it on the floor.
Was it permitted for Rabbi Sharabi to throw Gemara tests on the floor?

Answer of Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, shlita:
This act is similar to what Moshe Rabeinu did, when he heard that the Jewish people committed the sin of the egel hazahav (golden calf). Moshe came down from Har Sinai, and broke the Luchot (tablets of the law), and G-d praised him for doing so. (Rashi, Devarim 34:12) However, we must keep in mind that Moshe Rabeinu was on an extremely high spiritual level. Moshe didn’t lose control, and act out of anger. Rather, his actions were calculated and carried out in a state of complete calm. He knew in advance that the Jews had sinned, and his intention was that, as a result of the breaking of the luchot, the Jews would repent.
In our case, the teacher threw the tests out of anger and lack of control, and there is no room to permit such an action. However, if he had been in complete control at the time, and had acted purely out of a desire to get his students to repent from cheating on the test, it is possible that throwing the tests would have been permitted. This is in line with what our sages stated, that sometimes loss of Torah study can be the cause for greater Torah study (menachot 99b)

In summary: If the teacher threw the tests as a result of a rational calculation that his actions might cause his students to repent, throwing the tests might have been permitted.
Rabbi Daniel Kirsch
Rabbi Daniel Kirsch studied for many years at the famed Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem. He currently lives in Kedumim in the Shomron, where he studies at the yeshiva and teaches classes for adults. In addition, he teaches at an elementary school.
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