I was recently asked by someone to fill out paragraph answers for their application. Am I halachically permitted to do so?
Plagiarism and ghostwriting are similar in that they both conceal the true author’s name. However there’s a difference between the two. A plagiarist copies text without the permission of the true author, while a ghostwriter knowingly writes text to appear as someone else’s speech or writing.
Semantics aside, sometimes the applicant dictates their ideas to the writer, and the writer puts it into words.
If acceptance to the school was dependent on their literary abilities, then I would agree that the ghost writer is an accessory to the deception. This would also be true, if the school gives explicit instructions that the applicants must fill out the entire application by themselves.
However, sometimes the school only wants to know about the applicant’s ideas and aspirations. In this case the writer is not involved in deception. He’s merely conveying the applicant’s words and ideas, in an elegant and coherent manner.
In fact, in such a case, the writer may be doing a mitzvah, as this may be considered an embodiment of the directive: “Psach picha l’ilaim” (Mishlei 31:8), speak up on behalf of a mute, one who cannot speak for himself.
Kollel Toras Zeraim HALACHA
blog content post post format