by Rabbi Yair Hoffman
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In memory of Rabbi Yaakov Hirsch a”h, the author’s father-in-law whose yahtzeit is today, 23 Shvat.
QUESTION: There are vicious and vile hackers out there who target innocent companies and shut out their computer systems and demand a ransom to let them back in. There is a yeshiva that was hacked and a demand was made for tens of thousands of dollars. I am a CPA for one of the Big Four accounting firms. Am I allowed to produce false documentation to effectively convince the blackmailers that the yeshiva is in chapter eleven bankruptcy to help reduce the cost of the ransom? It could be appended with a letter that anything over the sum of $5000 must be approved by each of the sixteen creditors and it take seven or eight months for that to happen?
The Gemorah in Yoma 83b Regarding Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehudah, and Rabbi Yossi clearly indicates that it would be permitted. As a quick summary of the passage, the three of them stopped at an inn seeking a room on Erev Shabbos. Sabbath eve. The innkeeper’s name was “Kidor.” Rabbi Meir did not trust him on account of the Pasuk in Dvarim (32:20) “Because a generation (Hebrew is ki-dor) of deceit..” Rabbi Yehudah and Rabbi Yossi gave him their wallets. Rabbi Meir did not. The man denied that he ever took the wallets for safekeeping.
The Rabbis took the man to a place where they were served wine and noticed the remains of a meal was still on the innkeeper’s mustache. They used this “inside information” as to what he had eaten to convince the wife that he had told her to return the wallets. She did. It is clear that you may lie in order to help someone get out of this situation. I do not suggest that you affix your real name to the paperwork, because who knows? The blackmailer may somehow be able to sue you.
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