Updated: Dec 31, 2020
The Mishna in Piriei Avot, Ethics of our Fathers (1:2) tells us to acquire for ourselves a friend (keneh lecha chaver). Being that the need for friendship is a basic human need, our Sages by examining their words more carefully, we see that their every word is instilled with wisdom and, like all their insights, everything they say reveals a depth of understanding we might not have perceived on our own and from which we have much to learn.
So often, I meet members of our community who share stories of their search for friendship. They say, "I just moved to the area and I'm really hoping to meet other Jewish adults or, "I think the Shul is a place where I can find others who share my values." These stories serve as a reminder to us all, that we come to this Jewish community at our most basic level, in search of connection to others. Friendships have the potential to bring us closer to the godliness in others, and ourselves. Building friendships is part of the holy work of this congregation. Our Sages teach us that the more spiritual a friendship is, the longer it will last. When friends are bound only by circumstances, then when the circumstances change, they stop attending the same course or move away and the friendship is lost. However, when friends are joined by the desire to grow together, their souls are bound with on another and the friendship will last throughout their lives. This is possibly the most pleasurable and rewarding aspect of what the Mishna teaches us about "buying" friend - namely, keeping a friend for life. In the Rebbe's book "Toward a Meaningful Life", the following story is told and I quote, "A man visiting "the Rebbe" complained of a lack of meaningfulness in his life. Yes, he had a successful career and healthy family, but at the end of the day he felt lonely and empty. "Do you ever devote time to your sour?' the Rebbe asked him. How can I have time for my soul, When I am so consumed with work and family? There is an old saying the Rebbe replied, "that when two people meet, it is two souls against one body Because bodies are self-centered by nature, they cannot join forces, each pursues its own physical needs. Souls, however, are selfless by nature, so when two people join forces their souls converge. May I suggest that you and I resolve here and now to designate time each day to study and pray, and do an additional good deed? This will nourish your soul and give focus and meaning to all that you do, rather than your being controlled by the random forces in life.
Let our prayer for this new month of Kislev by as follows; Dear G-d, help us to see the holiness in the relationships we share. Let us not take them for granted, but be reminded of the scared roles that they play in our lives. Allow us to feel connected to our congregation and to the community here, that allows us to peruse sacred work, as we meet one another and open our eyes to the potential friendships we have yet to create here. For it is in our friendships that we can come to know you and let us say together, amen!
Rabbi David Schonblum