The Value of Friendship

Question

What does Judaism teach about the importance of friendship as opposed to concentrating on living one’s own life “as an island”?

6 months

Answers

  1. The idea of friendship in Judaism is a vital aspect of a happy and successful life. One of the greatest Jewish sages in history posed asked his five best students: “What is the right way that a person should seek for himself?” One of the answers that made the “top five” list was: “a good friend”. Friendship is invaluable to “living the right way”.

    Another great rabbi said, “Buy a friend for yourself.” This is the literal translation. Does this really mean to pay someone to be your friend?

    “Yes”, wrote Rabbeinu Yona (Girona, Catalonia, 13th century). He explained that the simple meaning is that even if you have to spend money in order to gain somebody’s friendship it’s worthwhile because friendship is more important than money.

    But he also offered a deeper and more meaningful explanation of the meaning of “buying a friend”. The payment required for friendship is the ability to tolerate the difference between you the other person. If you don’t have enough patience to listen to another person or tolerate a different way of doing something — you won’t have a friend. One needs to be patient, tolerant and realize that people are not the same. This is the meaning of what to “give” to “buy a friend.” It doesn’t mean that you need to always agree with the other, but it means that you must always be considerate and appreciative and as accommodating as possible.

    You want a good friend? Learn how to be one. Learn how to empathize with the pain of another person.

    If you are able to share the burden of another person, and not to be indifferent to the things that are bothering him, you will be a good friend, and thereby also acquire a good friend.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team