Thursday, December 22, 2011

Korean film crew visits Ponevitch (Video)


So the Koreans are fascinated with Talmud study because they think our own fascination with the Talmud has something to do with the disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes Jewish people have won. Well, jokes on them. The scholars of Ponevitch may be smart, but they aren't likely to win any Nobels. Math, science or literary talent are what pave the path to Stockholm, not pilpul.

More information from The American:
The nurture camp looks to the cultural environment in which Jewish children are raised—both the home and the community—as the source of their high average intelligence. In order for this hypothesis to hold, there must be an identifiable difference between the homes in which the leading Jewish scholars are raised and comparable gentile homes, and this unique feature must be sustained over multiple generations. This is a reasonable hypothesis—after all, a central component of Jewish faith is the rigorous study of sophisticated and complicated religious texts. Jews are highly literate and place a premium on education, so their children, though no more intelligent genetically than others, might be off to a much better start. This idea would be compelling if most Jews today grew up in traditional homes. However, the vast majority of Jewish households, both in the United States and in Israel, are secular and not especially different from those of their gentile neighbors in similar socio-economic conditions. Orthodox Jewish Nobel laureates like Robert Aumann, who tackled the Talmud in yeshiva studies in his youth, are the exceptions. Oftentimes, Jews grew up in homes that pushed them toward retail business and out of school at a young age. This was especially true of the children of the Eastern European Jewish immigrants who grew up in early 20th-century America, a generation that still produced scholars of great renown.
So yes, we produce smart people, but no, the study of Talmud does not appear to be the reason.

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