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Constructive stubbornness

Friday, 5 March, 2021 - 3:54 pm


I think stubbornness is given a bad rap. Is it all that bad to be stubborn? 

We generally think of stubbornness as a negative trait - and it certainly could be misplaced and harmful. But if your stubbornness is leading you to make the right choice - even when you’re feeling uninspired, perhaps it’s not all that bad?

When dealing with others, it’s important to be flexible. We need to take their concerns into account and ensure that they are sincerely valued and appreciated. 

However, when it comes to upholding our Jewish values and principles, some irrational and unwavering stubbornness is the secret to success. 

In fact, the Torah describes the Jewish people as “stiff-necked”; basically the biblical way of saying “stubborn”. And despite being shared in a somewhat negative context, it’s not all that bad. In fact, it’s what has sustained us as a people all these years.

You’ve got to be a little “stiff-necked” to survive persecution by the Philistines, the Babylonians and the Persians. To be tormented by the Greeks and the Romans. You would need more than a little stubbornness to rebuild after the horrific devastation of the various Crusades and inquisitions. And there’s certainly fierce determination embedded in the DNA of our parents and grandparents who rebuilt after the Holocaust.

Yes, our stubbornness has served us well over the generations. Every single person born Jewish today owes that fact to multiple ancestors who refused to waver under any circumstances.  

Sometimes a little opposition calls out our determination; we have to learn to summon our inner positive stubbornness in less confronting circumstances too. Stick to what’s right no matter the fallout.

While it may take even more effort than resisting hostile opposition, it’s well worth the effort. Because without any hyperbole or exaggeration - it’s the key to Jewish continuity.


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