Do kindness with as many people as you can.
But choose your friends.
Have as many as you can.
Make sure they bring you up not bring you down.
I was looking at the dead-end sign today. I noticed something interesting. If you add an upside down “V” to the bottom of the last “D” of the word “DEAD” – you get the word DEAR. And if you add the letters “FRI” to the word “END” you get the word “FRIEND”.
The Weekend Friend
I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that “FRI” are added to the word “END”. Because sometimes you a friend who’s just a friend on the weekend. Meaning to have a good time. But when you need them you cannot find them.
Just a thought. But I do know people like that.
A Real Friend
Once two drunkards were lying in the gutter. One asked the other “Do you love me?!” The other replied “Of course I love you!”
He responded “If you love me, tell me what I’m lacking!”
A friend is here more than just to have a good time together. A good friend will help you to make yourself greater.
He will tell you the truth so that you will improve. Obviously in a tactful way. But nevertheless, a good friend will be there to help you be the best that you can be.
Good Friends Make Good Spouses
Our best friend is supposed to be our spouse.
One of a woman’s roles, in Judaism, is to help her husband become the best that he can be. That’s what we call her in Hebrew “a help mate against him” –”Ezer Kenegdo”. A helpmate – when he is doing the right thing. And against him – when he’s not.
That is the definition of a good friend.
A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed
A good friend is one which one can learn Torah together with Him or her. A good friend is there to give you advice or just and ear to listen or a shoulder to cry upon or a hug when it’s needed. A good friend will answer your calls, even if he’s busy or not in the mood.
If your friend is dragging you into doing bad – obviously that is not a friend. Maybe an accomplice – but a friend, not.
Friends in the Torah
Avraham, our Forefather, had three friends – Aner, Eshkol & Mamre. Each one gave him advice regarding whether he should do circumcision at his age of 100. Yehuda had friends that he could confide his deepest secrets – like the incident of Tamar.
One can confide secrets and ask for advice from good friends. I had a question recently. I asked a rabbi for Daat Torah – what is the Torah’s perspective. The question had nothing to do with Torah Observance. The answer I received was different than I thought was good. I changed my decision based upon my consulting the Rabbi.
Family or Friend Priorities
One should not have too many friends over one’s house. Apparently because our main focus for Spiritual Growth and doing kindness is ourselves and our family.
In Tzefat / Safed in Israel, there was a period where there was tremendously great rabbis living in one epoch. The Ari z”l – the Kabbalist, Rabbi Yosef Caro, The Alshich, HaKadosh. They made groups – that some still emulate today – whose purpose was to learn Torah Mussar / Ethics together help to each member of the group improve.
If you see a friend is bringing you down doesn’t mean you you have to be cold to them. You can be warm – but it’s prudent to limit your involvement with them.
And involve yourself with positive people. This is one of the reasons why the Torah states – let the Torah scholars part of your household – because they will bring you up. You and your family.
At times a spouse also must be pushed away. If they are bringing the other spouse down in Torah and Mitzvot, a competent Rabbi must be consulted to determine whether the relationship should continue.
A spouse can improve. But if there’s no hope for improvement, a competent Orthodox rabbi should be consulted.
If a Jewish person married a non-Jew, the non-Jew has the opportunity to convert to Judaism with an Orthodox rabbi. Because if one is Jewish and the other is not they are on two different wavelengths.
A Jew is to observe the 613 commandments from the Torah. A non-Jew only required to follow the Seven Noahide laws for all humanity from the Torah. So it behooves the couple for the non-Jewish partner to convert to Judaism if they are already married. Otherwise, each member cannot really reach their potential. Because one is observing one set of laws from Torah and the other is observing the other set of laws from Torah. They live in two different worlds.
Our job in this world is to become as great as we possibly can be. The Torah teaches us how.
Success is not measured based upon your bank account. Success is measured by how much you have in your “kindness account”. And how well one is performing serving God the way he wants us to serve – ie, in Torah and Mitzvot.
A simple way to prove that a person’s bank account is not correlated with his personal potential that he or she has achieved – is to look at many of the rich. Many have big bank accounts, but not necessarily the best character traits. A person that is kind is more successful in the eyes of most than a person who is rich yet beats his wife.
This is obvious.
Our goal in life is to become best we can be in terms of being a good person. Surrounding us ourselves with friends, family and Torah scholars that will bring us up – is one way to make the path easier and to improve your chance of success.