Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why are Jews so Intelligent?

Did you ever wonder why the Jews have such a disproportionately high number of Nobel Prize winners?  Why are there so many Jewish doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers (let's hear it for the engineers) and only one Indian chief (Mel Brooks)?  There is a very legitimate reason that is not so obvious.

Jews are known as the people of the Book.  For thousands of years we have studied the most complicated text ever written -- scriptures.

I have a short story for you to exemplify my point.  When my immediate family was becoming observant, my 18 year old son was a college student.  He came to me one day to ask if he could drop out of college and go to yeshivah.  I was very proud of his feelings towards Hashem and Judaism and consented immediately – sending him to a yeshivah in Jerusalem – an experience that completely changed his life and mine (I went to visit him and discovered that Israel was my true home).  Thank you, Hashem.  Happy children very much enhance the joy of life.  We made this bold change even though he was lacking only four college credits to complete his degree.  After a year at yeshivah, I investigated the possibility of him getting college credit for his yeshivah studies.  There is an organization in New York that will evaluate and accredit studies.  The yeshivah was familiar with this practice and constructed a transcript of my son's efforts for the year.   The yeshivah gave him 18 credits in such subjects as general studies, philosophy, history and language.  When presented to the organization for accreditation, out of the 4 credits that he needed for that college, they gave him 36 credits.  They also told us how much credit would be acceptable at Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania and Hebrew University.  They explained to us that they are totally aware of the intensity of study that occurs at yeshivahs.  They were also aware of the devotion and willingness to learn that yeshivah students have.  There is probably no match in the world for intensive learning than that of a yeshivah.  I attended college full and part time for 16 years including graduate level studies.  I have never seen the level of devotion towards studies as I have in yeshivahs with which I have been associated.  By the way, my son received his degree.
There are research studies that have been performed on the subject of Jewish intelligence that have very surprising results.  They argue persuasively that “elevated Jewish intelligence is grounded in genetics” rather than being only environmental.  Even though the intense yeshivah study and even the extended study -- caused by such factors as having books in the home (there is definitely much home study as well), they concluded that Jewish intelligence is ‘substantially heritable.”  Jews, especially the Ashkenazim of central and western Europe, have been engaging for centuries in what basically amounts to selective mating and merging genes to produce children of high intelligence.

The Talmud (Pesahim 49a) says that “A man should sell all he possesses in order to marry the daughter of a scholar, as well as marry his daughter to a scholar.”  In the Jewish community of the Middle Ages, the smartest men often became Rabbis, and these learned men of high status were able to marry the daughters of successful merchants, thus “selecting” in favor of high intelligence.  The Jewish woman who was the teacher of the house ensuring that the children were properly and extensively educated, were themselves well learned.

At the same time, Christians were doing just the opposite: priests, monks and nuns of the dominant Roman Catholic Church, also usually among the best and brightest in their communities, were prohibited from marrying, thus “selecting out” through celibacy most of these intellectually superior men and women from the gene pool.

There is another factor that is not so obvious but is a catch 22 situation (I like catch 22's).  In most countries that Jews migrated to the people were happy to have the intelligence and cleverness of the Jew but were apprehensive about giving Jews employment for fear of them dominating and taking over businesses.  The same people that held back the Jew from gaining inroads in business and even academic endeavors, helped cultivate the business savvy of the Jew.  How so?  Jews were "on their own" and forced, out of necessity and survival, to develop their clever ways.  They became self-employed, self-educated and, in many cases, self-governing.  "Necessity is the mother of invention" an expression that is the history of the Jews.

But, since I like to analyze the absolute truth, I would be remiss to not include the will of Hashem.  What the Jew is and has been throughout history is, by design, fulfilling Hashem's will.  The intelligence of the chosen people was totally necessary to bring the message of Hashem to the world.  The correction of the world depended on its agents who were tasked to bring it to fruition.  The stereotyping, Jew hating, Jew bashing all very much resulted from the frustration and jealousy of the non-Jewish population.  It was also a message from Hashem that when Jacob is studying Torah, Esau can't touch him.  A strong message to the Jews throughout history is simply do the job you were charged with – study Torah, and don't assimilate into the gentile society.  Hashem made life difficult on purpose when the Jew decided that he wanted to blend into the non-Jewish world.  Jews were welcome even invited to many countries as long as they stayed separate from the local population.  When the Jews said "I like the way they dress, I like their food, I like their jobs, I like their secular education" Hashem made sure the population of that country turned on them.  I lived in Germany for six years, ich habe viel Deutch gelernt, I remember a speech that I heard from of all sources hitler (may his name be stricken – his name is small case intentionally since he was never a capital individual).  he said "I don't want you assimilating with the German people."  Who was really sending that message?  Even in Israel, the absolutely happiest communities are those that are completely observant Jews and no non-Jews or even non-Jewish behavior in their midst.  When we adhere to this vital message from Hashem, no harm will come to any Jew and complete happiness is discovered.  It worked for me, my family and the entire city I live in.  Thank you, Hashem. 


  1. Todah rabah hashem, beautiful story and very true!!!!!!!

  2. I'm African and proud. The STRONGEST of men. I love this story

  3. beautiful. I am not Jewish but, in South Africa in the 1960s, my Mum was suppressed by apartheid, had no education, came from a very poor abusive background. She ran away from home and became a nanny for a Jewish family who treated her very well. Instead of paying her a full salary (please remember she was about 18 when she ran from home), they offered for her to have piano lessons and she stayed with them and ate with them. Because of the piano lessons, many years later, my mum was able to teach and eventually opened her own private music school. A thing unheard of in the apartheid days; blacks did not play classical piano. they taught her etiquette, how to dress and how to speak. Today, I work at the United Nations, my passed away many years ago but, I have benefitted to this day, from what they taught her because she passed all that knowledge on to me. My best friend is Jewish and I have such a deep love for this nation that I cannot describe. God bless them. Thank you for all you do for the world.

    1. That is such a beautiful story, you can tell that Hashem loves your mother and you. An interesting possibility that may not be so obvious is that you may be part of one of the lost tribes of Israel. Everything is from Hashem and what your mother experienced probably has deeper meaning than just a random happening (there is no such thing). You may be very surprised in the near future if you find yourself moving to Israel. If not, stay a righteous non-Israelite and you will be completely protected by Hashem in the growing turmoil of the world.

      G-d loves you and I think I do, too (don't tell my wife).

  4. Helpful, I like the doctrine mentioned in Thalmud