GATEWAY TO HAPPINESS
CHAPTER SEVEN FRIENDSHIP
Friends are valuable for happiness.
A person who keeps to himself will find it difficult to be in a state of joy.
(Chofetz Chayim, Ahavas Chesed, part 2, ch.2)
2. Nothing so influences the faculties of a person’s mind as communicating with friends who are striving towards the same goal. Our thinking is shaped and corrected only through the exchange of thoughts with others. An intellect which depends entirely upon itself is prone to stagnation, fantasies, or erroneous ideas. (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, From the Wisdom of Mishle, p.183)
3. The Sages say that having a friend is so important that we should be willing to pay for one (Pirke Avos 1:6). For all aspects of living, a close friend can be very beneficial. So beneficial that even if you have to pay some price for one, it is worthwhile. Paying a price does not necessarily refer to financial payments. We might have to spend time and energy to keep a friend. We might have to tolerate some of his negative habits and at times he might quarrel with us. Nevertheless, the price we pay for a close friend is a worthwhile investment.
7.2 We have a need for others, but moderation is important. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am by myself, who am I?” (Hillel, Pirke Avos 1:14). Do not make yourself overly dependent on others. If you won’t take care of your own needs, how can you expect that others will? On the other hand, be aware of your limitations. To a certain degree we are all dependent on others. Even the richest and wisest person needs others. Consistently reacting in either extreme is bound to cause problems. Hillel advises us to take the middle path. Try to do for yourself what you can; but do not be too proud to ask others for help when necessary.
The way you behave towards others will affect their behavior towards you.
The fool turns a friend into an enemy, and the wise person turns an enemy into a
friend. (Tnuas Hamussar, vol. 4, p.299)
2. “As in water, face answers to face; so too does the heart of one person to another” (Mishle 27:19)
This verse states a principle that is a major factor in our relationship with others. We all want others to be friendly and kind to us. The behavior of others is not in