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Given that the Torah has a concept of an "Am Haaretz", I am tempted to ask if the lesson is that everyone has the capacity to improve their intelligence and rise out of being an Am Haaretz. If Am Haaretz is just translated as "ignoramus", then that would make sense.

However, even still, intelligence seems to be innate, and people below a certain IQ generally are forced to become "Amei Haaretz" in a sense. For example, the military in some countries like USA do an IQ test, and below a certain level they wont recruit because they absolutely won't be able to find any task that this person can be relied on to do competently - and it's not like military service is all "brainy" stuff.

So, does the Torah have a concept for a person that is so low in intelligence that they cannot be reasonably be expected to overcome this and get the basics of Torah learning down to the point they can arise out of being subject to the harsh statements against Amei Haaretz? Or does the Torah teach that everyone is able to rise out of that status if they improve their character and make an effort?

I would be keen to find sources that discuss this, and ideally avoid arguments based on "the times", as the main thrust of this question is to what degree our intelligence and knowledge are our own responsibility.

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  • טיפה זו מה תהא עליה
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Jan 12 at 10:16
  • I don't know if this directly answer your question but I was reminded about the Piacezna Rebbe's piece in Mevo HaShearim - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Jan 12 at 11:13
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    "So, does the Torah have a concept for a person that is so low in intelligence that they cannot be reasonably be expected to overcome this and get the basics of Torah learning ..." What about a Shoteh (שוטה)? Chagigah 3b-4a: "תנו רבנן: איזהו שוטה? היוצא יחידי בלילה, והלן בבית הקברות, והמקרע את כסותו ... הא דתניא: אי זהו שוטה - זה המאבד כל מה שנותנים לו".
    – Tamir Evan
    Jan 12 at 11:50
  • @TamirEvan isn't a shoteh a crazy person? If I understood the question correctly, it's not asking about crazy people, rather about stupid people.
    – Lo ani
    Jan 12 at 12:30
  • On another note, this might be answerable by saying 'God doesn't give anybody a test that they cannot complete' (though I don't know an exact source for this), therefore anybody who's chayiv to do Mitzvos, can. (Which excludes cheresh shoteh and katan, who might actually fit the bill, per @TamirEvan's comment)
    – Lo ani
    Jan 12 at 12:32

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