Just One Friend

August 26, 2011 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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One of the important relationships that form human existence is friends.

Rabbi Michol Gourarie photo: Henry Benjamin

In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), our sages teach: “Make for yourself a mentor and acquire for yourself a friend”. When analyzing the text of this instruction we notice that sages talk about a ‘friend’ and not ‘friends’. Is one friend sufficient? Wouldn’t someone with only one friend be considered anti-social?

 The answer to this question lies in the definition of a friend. Friends are not just people that we can socialize with and enjoy their company. A friend is not just someone who we can talk for hours with, or a person whose sense of humor we find entertaining.

 A true friend is someone with whom we build an inner connection extending beyond superficialities. True friendship is a relationship built on trust and acceptance. The famous Chassidic Rabbi of Kotzk said that each person should have at least one friend that he can tell all of his secrets to, even the most shameful ones. A true friend is someone who is able to accept us unconditionally and would never let us down.

 While we might have many acquaintances or many people that we share good conversation with, one real friend might be hard to find. But one good friend is all we need.

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