Why are Jews so Smart?
A Second Look
By Rami Alloni
Recently there has been some discussion in the news centered on the theme that Jews are actually smarted than other people and have on the average a higher IQ. This is shown by the larger proportional showing of Nobel Prize winners that are Jewish as compared to other nationalities. It has been reported that approximately 23% of the Nobel Prize winners are Jewish, compared to their meager world population percentage of only 0.02%. Clearly this requires some explanation.
There are those who rationalize the large showing by explaining that there is an inherent Jewish love of learning which is a tradition which has developed over hundreds of centuries as exemplified by generations of Jews who strived to marry their daughters to Talmud Scholars or Rabbis, and encouraged their sons not just to study, but to excel in Talmudic learning. Others want to say that the Christians encouraged their brightest young men to become monks, destroying the seed that could produce brilliant offsprings.
Perhaps these views are correct, yet there is another explanation that is not well known since it is based on the mystical teachings of our holy books, and it is this that I would like to present to you below:
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Although we normally think that only people have souls, or, perhaps we include animals too, realize that everything has a soul. To clarify this, let us understand by soul, we are talking about a G-dly derived divine aspect which provides the living life or vibrant existence to everything. We realize that people and animals have a 'soul' since we can see that they are either 'alive' or 'dead.' Yet carrots and cucumbers, together with all vegetable life, have a 'soul' that gives it the ability to grow. Once a plant is uprooted it 'dies', meaning it can not longer grow. This parallels 'life' in man and in animals.
What we fail to perceive is that even mineral has a 'soul' and it is just that 'soul' which keeps it from deteriorating, evaporating or ceasing to be.
Each level of being has a different level of 'soul'. Obviously, the 'soul' of the mineral is much less evolved than that of the plant. A plant can grow, mineral cannot. Therefore we can deduce that the 'soul' aspect of the plant is more advanced or sophisticated than that of the rock.
Similarly an animal can move and it has rudimental methods of communications which are lacking in the plant life. This is again attributed to a more sophisticated 'soul'.
Comparing the human being to the animal we see that man is much more developed in his ability to reason and communicate, to use his body and mind than is the animal. This is because his 'soul' is more intense than that of the animal.
In reality, the teachings of mysticism not only explain the differences of 'souls' but also the ability of the soul to radiate the Godliness which is within the soul. This Godliness is the essential part of the soul and from it comes the ability to sustain vibrant life. Since the soul is the Godly source of life in the body, each soul is covered with a 'klippah' translated as a shell or a husk. I personally like the analogy to a light shade that conceals the light bulb from the eye, yet letting the light of the bulb illuminate the room. This prevents the brilliance of the light from injuring the eye. In a similar manner, the klippah surrounds the soul and controls the amount of Godliness that can permeate the person. The thinner the klippah, the more Godly light is available to illuminate the person's being and the more sensitive he is to all things Godly. Conversely, a thick klippah prevents the light of the soul from revealing itself into the person.
When people engage in sin, the sin gives growth to the klippah causing the klippah to further conceal the Godly light from the man himself. When a person truly repents for his sins, then the klippah's thickness is reduced in relation to the degree of repentance. The more a person impels himself to become close to God, even at the expenses of his physical pleasures, the more the klippah is reduced in thickness thereby allowing more Godly light to pass.
The passing of divine light through the klippah enables a person to perceive the holiness that abounds in the world. Part of the holiness that is to be found in this world is found in the study of the Torah and the Talmud, for to truly understand Torah in its deepest mode; one must harness the expanse of his intellect which can only be unlocked by the light of the Godly soul.
The Jews, who are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were chosen by G-d as His people. In order that they should be his holy people he has given them a special klippah which enables a greater amount of divine light to shine into the person, thus enabling him to have a heightened perception of the Creator in this world of darkness.
It is exactly this special soul that the Jew possesses that was created to be used for Torah study that enables him to rise also in the world of science, commerce and thought.
It is really no wonder that the Jews have achieved so much, they have a special soul, but the wonder is that with all of their expanded abilities that they have not draw even closer to their Maker.
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Click here for the first look at "Why Jews are Smart"
from the September-October 2007 Edition of the Jewish Magazine