As we near the close of autumn in 2023, it’s troubling to observe that academics and students from America and Europe have been downplaying, justifying, and even lauding a brutal mass killing of Jews by a terrorist faction that endorses an anti-Jewish genocide plan.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce asked a simple question to the presidents of three of America’s premier universities: “Does advocating for the genocide of Jews infringe upon your institution’s code of conduct related to bullying and harassment?” Unfortunately, none of them could provide a definitive “yes” in response. We must ask ourselves: How could so many brilliant individuals have been so mistaken? We must first comprehend where the academic world has deviated from the right path.
In each era, educated Jews have grappled with reconciling two types of wisdom: the divine wisdom of our Torah and the worldly wisdom of foreign civilizations. The philosophers of Ancient Greece are particularly notable in this narrative. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad school, was himself proficient in mathematics, astronomy, and other aspects of secular knowledge.
The untainted oil of the Holy Temple symbolizes divine wisdom, which was tainted by the worldly wisdom of the Hellenizers. The triumph of the Hasmoneans culminated in unearthing a concealed flask of pure, untouched oil. This oil was ignited and miraculously shone for eight days. Divine wisdom not only triumphed but ascended to unprecedented heights.
This is the juncture where academic institutions diverged; here they failed. They failed to embrace the divine wisdom of the Torah and the 7 Noahide laws. At this point, these institutions began to focus more on secular or human wisdom—the knowledge derived from human experience and intellect, often emphasized in academic and scientific fields—rather than the divine wisdom outlined in the 7 Noahide laws.
The story of Chanukah is the story of the natural intellect redemption. It underscores the nullification of our reason to the divine wisdom represented in the seven Noahide laws, bringing the world closer to full redemption.
*This is from a series of articles by Rabbi Bernstein Moshe.