As I read all of the stories of the Superbowl and I listened to many interviews with the players and coaches after the game, I discovered an inspiring story. It was in an interview with Jason Kelce, an offensive lineman for the Eagles. After the game, Kelce was asked what this Championship means to him and to reflect on this accomplishment for him individually. Kelce then told the story of when he was not offered a football scholarship to college and he began to consider doing something else with his life. He said it was then that his parents told him to never forget his dream, to never give up on what he really wanted and to work even harder to achieve it. He then made reference to a quote his grandfather used to share with him from President Calvin Coolidge about persistence.
Here is that quote from the 30th President of the United States:
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
There are many great lessons here for us all to consider and this could inspire us to have important conversations with our children and grandchildren. This lesson applies to anyone who aspires to accomplish something major in their lives. I admit that I never knew of this quote and I would suspect many others are reading it this week for the first time.
I know that neither President Coolidge or Jason Kelce thought about persistence in terms of the Israelites spending 40 years in the desert as they transitioned from the years of slavery in Egypt toward the years of living in the Promised Land. But if we think about this quote in light of our Torah Reading for this Shabbat we can understand persistence on an individual level and on a communal level.
It is so important to have dreams - to aspire for great things in our lives. The role of parents and educators is to support our young people and their dreams and to remind them the great value of persistence. I know it has been important to me in my journey as a Rabbi and I hope it can be to others as well.
Rabbi Adam Feldman