Thursday, June 16, 2005

Are Jews smarter than everyone else?

If we are, it's not our fault. But seriously - the percentage of Nobel winners, the number of large advances in history that were brought about by the ideas of Jews, etc., etc. Mark Twain did not need a study for this. His famous quote, which I found online quoted by his wife in her My Husband Gabrilowitsch, says:
"Even if the Jews have not all been geniuses, their general average of intelligence and intellectuality is far above our general average--and that is one of our reasons for wishing to drive them out of the higher forms of business and the professions. It is the swollen envy of pigmy minds--meanness, injustice."
In his Notebook, he wrote
"The Jews have the best average brain of any people in the world. The Jews are the only race who work wholly with their brains and never with their hands... They are peculiarly and conspicuously the world's intellectual aristocracy."
This study does show why that might be, from their point of view: The Jews were unable to work the physical, menial jobs, and therefore had to make do with whatever they could find. But as my grandmother pointed out to me last night after dinner, it is so much more than that. Jews, for thousands of years, have looked at those who were more highly eduacted, who would study the Torah and the words of our Sages, as the best of the generation. The better the student and teacher one was, the more respect they received. The wealthy were not the ones who were constantly quoted and reported on, who people would follow straining to hear their wisdom. It was the great rabbis, the leaders who spent their lives pursuing the vast knowledge hidden amongst the books of Moses and our Sages. In a society in which knowledge truly is power, what would one expect the average member of society be striving for? The best possible use of one's mind in order to achieve greater Torah knowledge is the obvious answer - and once the Jew's mind was taught to think deeper, more thoroughly, more quickly - it became accustomed to it, and utilized it in everyday life. As Twain said in Concerning The Jews,
"The Jew is a money getter; and in getting his money he is a very serious obstruction to less capable neighbors who are on the same quest."
This is not a statement of egotism; rather it is a statement on history, on nature vs. nurture, and on Jewish pride. We take pride in our heritage, one which has taught us how to think and how to act - attributes which have allowed us (with God's help) to reach this point in history.

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