After two Israeli professors living in the US won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year, it begs the question: Why have Jews been so successful in this realm, despite their proportionately small population?
Approximately 20 percent or 1 in 5 of Nobel Prize laureates are Jews, yet Jews make up less than 0.2 percent of the world’s population.
One popular theory came in an essay a few years ago called Jewish Genius by author Charles Murray, who attributes it to super genes. He writes that “something in the genes explains elevated Jewish IQ.”
But a new theory has emerged from Robert Aumann, an Israeli who won the Nobel Prize in Economics (Games Theory) in 2005. He attributes Jewish genius to the tradition of book learning in general and Torah study in particular.
“Torah study is an intellectual pursuit, and honoring this ultimate value transfers to other pursuits as well,” Aumann told Israel’s Army Radio. “Jewish homes are full of books while other homes may or may not be. Jewish homes have overflowing bookshelves. Throughout the generations we have given great honor to this intellectual pursuit…Torah study makes the nation and its people of the finest and highest quality.”
After all, the Jews are the People of the Book!