Find Yourself a Friend

by Rabbi Audrey Pollack, February 27, 2017

K’nei Lach Chaverah – Find Yourself a Friend

During the last month I had the joyous occasion to bless my dear friend and her fiancé at their aufruf, as they were called to the Torah prior to their wedding. We have been friends and long-time chevruta partners now for over 28 years. It was a joyous celebration, made even more sweet to be standing on the bima with them at this milestone in their lives. Through cross country and international moves, we have sustained and deepened our friendship – today made much easier by the connected world of technology – skype, facetime, cell phones.

Rabbi Pollack Friends' Aufruf

Friendship in Judaism has a practical side. In the study of Talmud, it is the tradition to study with a partner, known as a chevruta. Studying in partnership allows students to share their ideas and point things out to one another that they would have missed had they been studying alone. A chevruta partner is more than a study partner – the Talmud teaches that friendship fulfills three major functions of Jewish life: The first is greater success at Torah study. The second, to help us fulfill mitzvot; and third, to be a trustworthy confidant and provide good advice. In Pirke Avot, the compilation of moral and ethical wisdom of the great commentators, we are commanded “Get for yourself a teacher; acquire for yourself a friend.” (Pirke Avot 1:6). Learning Torah is not only about learning text, it is about the shared pursuit of improving ourselves and our lives, through the lens of our sacred texts.

Outside of study, Jewish tradition also points out the value of friendship in everyday life. In Ecclesiastes 4:10, we are also taught, “…woe to him who is alone when he falls and there is no one to lift him.” When life is difficult and we have moments of personal struggle, our friendships provide a system of support.

At our most basic level, part of the reason we are part of Jewish community is to find connections to others. Building friendships is part of the holy work of community. We come to Solel because the synagogue is a place that we can find others who share the same values. We come because we want to celebrate Shabbat and holidays together. We come to Bet Sefer because we want our kids to make Jewish friends.

As Jews, we join together to do the work of tikkun olam (making this world a better place), we find meaning and connection in our lives. Our work together on social justice projects, praying and learning together, and holiday celebrations, challenge us to be our best selves. We celebrate at each other’s simchas and are here to give and receive support when there is an illness or a loss. And when we get together we enjoy each other’s company – be it making latkes in the kitchen, playing Mahjong, planning and preparing for our fundraising dinner or our Purim shpiel, or enjoying those events. The best way to make new friends and get to know fellow Solelniks is while pursing shared interests, building relationships and making deeper connections. When we participate in the rhythm of Jewish life, the more relationships we build. Friendships cultivated in these holy moments allow for reflection, intimate sharing, and open our hearts to the world and each other. We help our friends not because we must, but because the world is made better when we do.


Rabbi Audrey S. Pollack

Filed under: Rabbi's Message

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