Parshat Miketz: ‘Greek Wisdom’

Why is there no clear religious prohibition against the study of Greek wisdom and intellectual involvement in philosophy, mathematics, the sciences, secular music, art, literature and theater?

Why was no prohibition made against the study of all the expressions of Greek culture which we know as Hellenism? Hanukka does not merely celebrate our military victory over an enemy that wished to remove political independence from Judea. Our main celebration is the lighting of the hanukkia, the stylized “tree of life.” This ceremony makes the statement that “the candle is commandment, and Torah is our light” (Proverbs 6: 23), that it is not human reason but rather God’s will and miracles – as in the small cruse of oil only sufficient to last for one day but lasted for eight – that must direct human affairs and activities.

According to this view, the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) are right, at least as far as banning university studies is concerned.


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