My Friends and I
Two types of friends: (a) mutual
interests create the friendship; (b) the friendship causes reciprocal
interest. When interests change, type (a) lapses, type (b) does not.
“Chaver” = connection – what moves one moves the other. Sympathy. (“If you
loved me you would know what hurts me!”)
Obstacles to (b) – type friends: (false) ideology of individualism, a fear
of loss of independence.
Individualism: Aside from the effects of the individual’s actions on
others: the obligations of the individual, and the
significance/meaning/importance of his life/actions are independent of any
group to which he is related.
Problems: Philosophical – voting, taxes show that the value/
obligations/significance etc. of my actions are determined by my
relationships with others. [Actions with no consequences for others are
nevertheless obligatory, significant, valuable.]
Problems: Jewish – (taxes), arvus (guarantorship), sacrificing my
obligation so others can satisfy theirs, our connection to G-d through the
national treaty at Sinai, show that the value/obligations/significance etc.
of my actions are determined by my relationships with others. [Arvus and
sacrificing obligations show that strictly individual obligations cannot be
defined; national treaty shows that the relation to G-d which determines the
significance of everything is partly communal.]
Fear of loss of independence: (a) no one is independent ! We
all need support (material, emotional, etc.); joint action necessary for
great achievements. (b) Even where independence is possible, the price is
often to high: making poor decisions which could have been made better
through others’ guidance. The garden maze (superior, not perfect judgment).
Practical applications: friends need (a) sympathy and validation
(Job’s friends); (b) various levels of cooperation (“the King Who helps, and
saves and shields”) ; (c) honest evaluative feedback; (d) self-sacrifice
(=identifying with the friend’s success = adopting G-d’s point of view. –
how do you feel when someone else gets to the needy stranger first – what is
G-d’s profit in your doing the mitzvah rather than he ?)