Friendship. It’s definitely one of the big topics in Torah. It’s a big topic for anyone!
- Yeshoshua ben Perachiya says, “Make for yourself a teacher and acquire for yourself a friend!” (Avot 1:6)
- Nitai of Arbeli says, “Distance yourself from a bad neighbour, and do not befriend a wicked man…” (Avot 1:7)
- Rabbi Eliezer says, “Let your friend’s honour be as dear to you as your own.” (Avot 2:10)
- Rabbi Yosi ben Kisma said, “I was once walking along the road and a man met me and said ‘Shalom’ to me, and I answered ‘Shalom’.” He said to me, “Rabbi, where are you from?” I said to him, “From a large city of Torah scholars and Sofrim (scribes / students).” “Rabbi, would you like to come and stay with us and I will give you thousands of Dinars of gold and precious stones and pearls?” I said to him, “If you give me all the silver and gold and precious stones and pearls in the world (still) I will only (wish) to be in a place of Torah!” (Avot 6:9)
- The wisest of all men – King Solomon – teaches, “Do not befriend a man of anger… lest you learn his ways and your soul become entrapped.” (Proverbs 22:24-25)
- “It is human nature to be drawn after the opinions and ways of one’s friend and to behave like the people of one’s city, therefore a person should bind himself to the righteous and dwell by the Sages always, in order to learn from their deeds. And one should distance oneself from bad people who go in darkness, in order that he will not come to learn from their deeds. Like King Solomon says (Proverbs 13:20), “One who walks (goes) with the Sages becomes wise, but those who befriend fools will suffer…” (Rambam De’ot 6:1)
Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish – a Story of True Friendship
A story is told about Rabbi Yochanan. Once he was bathing in the Jordan when Reish Lakish (a bandit / robber) saw him and jumped into the Jordan after him. Rabbi Yochanan said, “Your strength should be used for Torah!” Reish Lakish replied, “And your beauty for women!” Rabbi Yochanan said, “If you will repent, I will give you my sister – who is more beautiful than I am – for a wife!”…
In time, Rabbi Yochanan taught him all of Torah and made him into a great man! Later in time, Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish became the best of study partners together. Yet later, Rabbi Yochanan slighted him and Reish Lakish became ill and died! Not long afterwards, Rabbi Yochanan could not bear living life without his study partner who had challenged him in so many ways – and he too died… (Bava Metzia 84a)
A story about friendship, and about influence. It is a story that reaches to the depths of good companionship, and contains within it the changes that come about through association with those who are good. It speaks of the love that can exist between good friends – and the lost hope when that true – beautiful friendship is lost.
Keep good friends and good companions – because with it, one is destined for the best of everything.
Here is a wonderful video that breaks it down for us in just a couple of minutes. Enjoy!