Is there a blessing greater than good friends? “Either friends or death,” ringingly declares the Talmud (Ta’anis, 23a). The sages insist that isolation is a betrayal of G-d’s design. People need one another to thrive.
The Bible is a book of deep friendships: Jonathan and David’s, Ruth and Naomi’s. Each illustrates the depth of true friendship, which involves not only love but also the willingness of one to make sacrifices for the interests of the other. True friendship is not selfish and does not disappear when the friend is in trouble. Who does not understand the sadness of false friends as they eat with you, celibrate and share your happiness and good times, but are absent when you are in need. When you fall, where are your friends?
True friends don’t leave.
Deep friendship is mysterious. It is not always based on a community of interests or a similarity of goals. If love depends on something temporary, once the temporary thing passes away, love also passes away; but if love does not depend on something short-lived, it will never pass away. What love depends on something temporary? The love of Amnon for Tamar. (2 Samuel 13) And what love did not depend on something short-lived? The love of David and Jonathan. (2 Samuel 1:26. Pirke Avos 5:16)
Among the glorious gifts celebrated by our tradition is this peculiar and lasting love, the true friend.
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