The Value of Friendship

A Rosh Chodesh Iyar Message from Rabbi Avraham Kelman

My Beloved Congregation,

One of the aspects of the Rabbinate which I cherish dearly, and for me this is probably the most important aspect, is the close friendships which I have formed over the years. The Rabeinu Yona tells us that there exist three types of friends: חבר לתועלת ,חבר לעצה, חבר לנפש. A practical friend, an advisory friend, and finally, a friend of the soul. 

A practical friend is a good neighbor whom you can ask to assist you in your practical needs. He or she may help drive you to the hospital for a procedure, or help put out the garbage or go shop for you. Such a relationship is utilitarian in nature and therefore constitutes a most basic level of friendship. 

Above that there is a friend, who is a good advisor. Someone you can turn to if you have problems or challenges, when times are tough. Such a friend is happy to assist you, to provide you with good council, and help solve your problems. Such a friend is so much more than a mere practical friend. He stands head and shoulders above a mere utilitarian friend.

But there is yet even a higher level than that!  The highest level of friendship is the friend of the soul. Such a person is willing to make sacrifices for you, and would even be willing to step into the lurch, in order to protect you. Underlying this type of friendship is a deep and abiding love, often unspoken, but which is felt just the same. This is the friendship which most of us aspire to, because such friends truly make life worth living. They also tend to be the friends which you keep over the miles and over the years. In all of the positions which I have served in heretofore, I have been blessed with many, many friends in all of the above categories. It is true that friends of the last type are hard to come by, but wherever we were, we always  found such friends. I am happy to say that here in Kol BeRamah, I have been happy to discover many new friends of the highest order – Chaverim liNefesh, friends of the soul!

The circumstances which we presently find ourselves in, present us all with great challenges. It seems to be an impediment to fomenting and developing the relationships which we all cherish so much! To be sure Zoom is a G-d send, yet for all its advantage, it is still a poor substitute for actual, one on one conversations. 

Torah classes, family Simchot, Brissin, Bar and Bat Mitzvot, weddings, and all of our life cycle events, which make life worth living, are certainly enhanced by Zoom, when there is no other alternative. Yet it certainly is no substitute for the real thing!!

Therefore, let us continue to pray for the magic bullet which will eradicate this dastardly disease, let us continue to recite Psalms, give Tzedakah, and continue to do all the other things which are in our power to do, and with G-d’s help may we soon return to our daily routines, but with a brand new perspective on the value of friendship!