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 ?)