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GOOD MORNING! Here is a fascinating question: What is the essence of friendship? It is probably fair to say that most people have many friends - people with whom they socialize, play sports, travel, shop, dine. Are they really friends?
There's an old story, which tells of a businessman in ancient times from the Land of Israel who was accused of being a spy. After being condemned to death, the man requests 30 days to return home to put his affairs in order and to say good-bye to his family. The judge laughs at the ridiculous request; the man responds that he has a friend who will stay in jail in his place until he comes back - and if he doesn't come back, his friend will die in his place.
This the judge had to see. So, they send for the friend. Sure enough, he agrees to stand bond in place of his friend all the way up to the noose.
The businessman returns home, puts his affairs in order, says good-bye to his family and returns with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, there is a storm at sea and he is delayed. He arrives shortly before the time he is to be executed. He runs to the town square where his friend is already at the gallows; he screams, "No, it is I who is to be executed!" And his friend yells back, "No, you're too late!" They create such a commotion and confusion that the king calls for them to be brought before him.
Each presents his case and then they begin to argue with each other about who is to be executed. Finally, the king stops them and says, "I will pardon you both on one condition - that you make me a third friend!"
What is the essence of friendship? Loyalty. A true friend is always there for you. The Hebrew word for friend is "chaver" - from the word "chibbur" which means attached, joined. A true friend is someone whose love is unconditional, who will be there for you always. The very foundation of friendship is loyalty.
A true friend does not condone wrong behavior and immoral choices. However, he is there to support, to reprove, to help his friend get his life back on track. He cares enough about you to tell you when you are wrong, but he does it with love and in a way that you can hear. A true friend will help you grow as a human being and to reach your goals.
One would not choose a surgeon just because he seems to be a nice guy. Choosing a friend is serious business; friends influence your life - and come with responsibilities! Know what traits you want in a friend before seeking friendship. Be careful of committing to a friendship haphazardly. Make sure you choose the right friends!
How does one make a true friend? First, be careful who you choose to be your friend. If friendship implies commitment and loyalty, you should select your friends carefully. A friend can help you elevate yourself in life or he can bring you down. Know the character and history of someone before making him a friend.
Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers, (a compendium of Jewish wisdom found in the back of most Jewish prayer books - or available at your local Jewish bookstore, at http://www.judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242) gives the following advice: "K'nei l'cha chaver" which translates as "Buy for yourself a friend." Obviously, one cannot buy friendship - although I did have a college roommate who always told me "Friends stay friends longer when they give gifts" (problem was, he always wanted to be on the receiving end...).
However, friendship does take investment. The best vitamin for acquiring a friend is B1. If one wants a person to be his friend, then he has to give the commitment and loyalty in order to get it in return. (It is much like marriage.) One must watch out for his friend's best interest and to be there for him. By the way, if you want to see who loves you and is concerned about you - look at who cares about your children. If your friend cares about your children, he really cares about you!
For more on "Friendship" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's portion includes: Bringing to the Temple as an offering the first fruits of the Seven Species special to the Land of Israel, Declaration of Tithes, the Almighty designating the Jewish people as His treasured people (Deut. 26:16 -19), the command to set up in the Jordan River and then on Mount Ebal large stones which had the Torah written upon them in 70 languages, the command to have a public ratification of the acceptance of the Law from Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal; the Torah then sets forth the blessings for following the Law and the curses for not following it, and concludes with Moshe's final discourse. Verse 28:46 tells us the importance of serving the Almighty with "joy and a good heart." The last verse of the portion instructs us:
"You shall fulfill the words of this covenant and do them so that you will succeed in all that you do!"
The Torah states:
"And you shall rejoice with all the good that the Almighty has given you." (Deuteronomy 26:11)
Why does the Torah obligate us with a commandment to rejoice when we should automatically be happy when we have good things?
Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, former Rosh HaYeshiva of Telse Yeshiva in Cleveland, clarifies with an insight into human nature: "Man's nature is to constantly want more than he presently has. 'He who has one hundred wants two hundred.' Our moments of joy are mixed with sadness over what we lack - and this is destructive both physically and spiritually. Therefore, the Torah commands us to feel a joy that is complete - to focus on and rejoice with what we have."
If you think that you will be happy only when you have more, then you will NEVER be happy. When you finally get what you were hoping for, you will once again focus on getting more and will again feel unhappy. Happiness is dependent upon your state of mind. You can only be happy if you appreciate what you have and what you are presently doing.
In Pirkei Avos (Chapter 4, first Mishna/"Teaching") it states, "Who is the rich person? He who is happy with his portion." Regardless of what you have, you are only wealthy if you have mastered the ability to appreciate what you have. I often think that there are many Jews with regards to their Judaism who are like multi-millionaires who don't know that they are rich because all of their money is sewn into the mattress and they don't know that it is there. Instead, they complain about sleeping on a lumpy mattress! (By the way, I think of Aish HaTorah as "poking holes in mattresses" so that Jews everywhere can see the beauty, meaning and values in our heritage.)
One can have eyes, hands, feet, a mind to think with and be depressed -unless he focuses on taking pleasure in these gifts. Imagine if you were blind and suddenly were given the gift of sight. Would you be "flying high"? You would be beyond yourself in happiness! Why wait to appreciate what you have? Make a list of your gifts and what you are grateful for. It is good preparation for Rosh Hashana!
CANDLE LIGHTING - September 8
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:51 - Hong Kong 6:16 - Honolulu 6:23
J'Burg 5:33 - London 7:14 - Los Angeles 6:52
Melbourne 5:46 - Mexico City 6:27 - Miami 7:16
New York 7:00 - Singapore 6:48 - Toronto 7:24
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
A friend doubles the joy
and halves the grief
In Loving Memory of Our Parents
Henrietta Milstein and
Rabbi Elazar Kahanow
-- Lazer and Ziporah Milstein