The word “stubborn” has many synonyms: adamant, determined, dogged, headstrong, inflexible, obstinate, persistent, persevering, relentless, single-minded, steadfast, tenacious, unshakable, unbending, undaunted, willful, bullheaded, hardheaded, stiff-necked …
Is being stubborn positive or negative? When you describe a fellow as stubborn, is it a critique of his character or a compliment?
What about a nation of people described as stubborn – stiff-necked, to be exact – is that critical or complimentary of its character?
The Torah says: “The Jewish people are a stiff-necked, obstinate and stubborn people.”
The Midrash asks: “Is this a compliment?”
If you possessed the most valuable asset in all of existence, would you employ a committed, headstrong, unbending, persevering security firm to protect the asset, or bodyguards that would run at the first sign of gunfire?
The most valuable asset is entrusted to the Jewish people precisely because of their perseverance and stubbornness. Come hell or high water – and both have come – God knows that His treasure will be safe with them.
So, now, would you want to be described as stubborn?