The Ardent, Stiff-Necked Spirit of Golda Meir

A new biography brings to life a leader of few words who accomplished much with the ones she had, and reminds us how much of her Zionist perseverance remains intact today.

In the Knesset, when Golda Meir felt the need for a few puffs, she would leave the floor, go to the doorway, stand with one foot in and one foot out and listen to the debate while dragging on her cigarette. David Rubinger/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images.

In the Knesset, when Golda Meir felt the need for a few puffs, she would leave the floor, go to the doorway, stand with one foot in and one foot out and listen to the debate while dragging on her cigarette. David Rubinger/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images.

Observation
Nov. 29 2017
About the author

Neil Rogachevsky teaches at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University.


One of God’s less charitable epithets for the children of Israel in the desert is am k’shey oref: a “stiff-necked” people. Yet some biblical scholars have seen the phrase as a kind of backhanded compliment. Rigidity, myopia, lack of imagination are hardly admirable traits; but when expressed as fastidiousness, perseverance, single-minded devotion to a worthy goal, mightn’t there be something to say for them?

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More about: Golda Meir, History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism