From: Martin in St. Louis
A central theme of Chanuka seems to be the victory of Torah over the philosophy of the Greeks. Does that mean that Judaism rejects the wisdom of the nations? Is there no redeeming value to that wisdom according to the Torah? Thank you.
True, Chanuka commemorates the victory of Torah over those who wanted to uproot it. However, the battle was not against the wisdom of ancient Greece per se, but against the “philosophy” which asserts that the wisdom of the nations is superior to that of the Torah; that the pursuit of wisdom is an end in and of itself, and the intellectual arrogance which that breeds.
According to the Torah,
While the highest form of wisdom according to Judaism is that of the Torah, one can only achieve it through humility. In the verse, “Where shall wisdom be found” (Job 28:12), the Hebrew word for “where” is “m’ayin” which also means “from nothingness”. From this the Talmud (Sota 21b) comments that true Torah wisdom can only be found in one who “makes nothing” of himself, i.e. is humble. This idea is echoed in the words of the prophet, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom…but let he who glories, glory in this — that he understands and knows Me” (Jeremiah 9:22).
However, the Torah also recognizes the importance of the wisdom of the nations. Just as one recites a special blessing upon seeing an outstanding Torah scholar, there is a blessing upon seeing an outstanding secular scholar: “Blessed are You…Who has given of His knowledge to human beings” (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 224:6-7). However, just as wisdom in Torah is only valued when it is accompanied with righteousness and humility in the service of
Perhaps this is one of the many ideas alluded to in the seven-branched Menorah, which symbolically radiates the light of wisdom into the world.
The purpose of each branch of the Menorah in its service in the Temple of