Minute #665: Neighbors

The Rabbi walked home with Dr. Chaim. As they passed a property sporting a “For Sale” sign, Dr. Chaim paused briefly to glance at the house.

“What’re you looking at?” the astute Rav inquired.

“Well, the family is growing and my wife and I are looking to buy a house that’s more suitable for us,” the doctor replied.

“House shopping is serious business, doctor. But I’m not sure you’re going about it correctly. When shopping for a home, don’t look at the house,” the Rabbi said.

“Rabbi, you’ve taught me a lot, but this I don’t understand. How can I purchase a home if I don’t look at it?” Dr. Chaim asked.

“At some time during the process you should inspect the building; however, your first priority should be to inspect the neighbors. If the neighbors are good then the house is acceptable,” the Rabbi explained.

Spiritual success is our primary task in life. In order to succeed in one’s mission, association with many different people is required. Teachers, friends and coworkers all influence a person’s values and attitudes. The Midrash states: “Woe is to the wicked — Woe is to his neighbor” (Bamidbar Rabbah 6:12). Residing near Korach brought destruction to members of the tribe of Reuven while, on the contrary, camping near Moshe and Aharon brought great Torah success to the tribe of Yissachar. It’s human nature to absorb attitudes from your neighbors.

Acknowledging this well-known psychological principle isn’t enough to escape its effects. Most people believe that children and teens are vulnerable but that mature adults are insulated. One should remember that great people in the desert fell prey to peer pressure and committed sins because they didn’t avoid the influence of bad neighbors. No matter what your age or level of maturity, caution is recommended in your social interaction. It’s vital that you have friends and crucial that you choose good friends.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Involvement means, “I’m part of something,” a group, an organization, a business, or a movement. It means, “I interact with people and they interact with me.” It means that when I’m not at a meeting or an event, people ask for me. (Avi Shulman, Thoughts to Build On, p. 222)