Sometimes they contain gossip, sometimes they are romantic messages, and other times they are nasty jokes at the expense of the teacher. There can’t be a classroom in the world where kids don’t pass notes to each other during lessons.
When teachers see this happening, they tend to seize the notes, read them, and if they feel it would be just punishment for their authors, share them with the class. According to a new rabbinic ruling, teachers should respect their students’ privacy – even if they are breaking rules by passing notes – and never look at the messages. The ruling was published this weekend in an “ask the rabbi” column in a modern-Orthodox newssheet. No reasoning was given, but it seems to be an application of the 1,000-year-old decree of European Talmudist Rabbeinu Gershom, which forbids the opening of other people’s correspondence.