Ethics

For the week ending 24 December 2005 / 23 Kislev 5766

The Mistaken Code of Honor

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: As the principal of a school with a strict policy forbidding substance use, I am sometimes faced with the dilemma of a pupil caught violating the rules but refusing to identify the seller because of the “code of honor” in those circles which treats a “squealer” as the greatest villain. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: There is no question that the right thing for the pupil to do is to cooperate with you in getting to the source of this plague which can have such a disastrous impact on the lives of so many of the victims.

The right thing for you to do is to enlighten your obstinate pupil who suffers from a conflict of values. Revealing the identity of a drug merchant, he must be made to understand, is not a violation of the “eleventh commandment” legislated in the world of substance abuse. An analogy must be made to a killer lurking in ambush of innocent victims. Would the pupil have any reservations about revealing his identity, even if it was his best friend who had sworn him to secrecy?

It is vital to impress upon your tight-lipped pupil how many lives have been ruined by drug merchants, and that the one who sold the stuff to him is indeed a killer who must be exposed before he does more harm.

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