Some things in life are constant; yet as times change, the manner of referring to them undergoes revisions.
The prophet Yeshayah (45:18) said that the Creator made a world; “He formed it to be inhabited” — He wanted people to live in a productive society, interacting with one another. The Talmud says: “Either I have a chavruta (learning partner) or death” (Taanis 23a); i.e., learning without a friend is tantamount to death. In the modern world, social interaction has grown to where “friendships” are quantified by the number of electronic conversations one has with others or the number of “contacts” one has stored on a computer.
Hashem created the human being with a need to share life’s ups and downs with others. We give and take, learn and teach, share and compete. We all try to make friends and yet, some do and some don’t. The Mishnah (Avot 1:6) instructs us: “Acquire for yourself a friend” — which some believe means to pay as you do for a garment. This may have a temporary positive effect; yet, in the long run, love that’s dependent on a “thing” dissolves when that “thing” is no longer.
Acquiring a friend doesn’t mean try and buy love. It doesn’t mean sitting back and waiting for others to appreciate your good nature, either. It means making yourself into someone with whom others would like to share their life experiences. Patience, kindness and generosity help. Humility and soft speech add to your desirability. Showing a pleasant countenance rounds out the picture. Taking a pro-active approach by reaching out to others will initiate production of many genuine friendships. Your acquisitions will multiply if you make yourself into someone others would like to befriend.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
It is natural to envy the good fortune of others. The Torah requires you not only to not have negative feelings about the attainment of others, but you should actually feel happy for their good fortune. It takes conscious effort to work on feeling love for others. Whoever fails to work on this trait is very likely to fall into the trap of feeling envious. (Harav Simchah Zissel Ziv, Chochmah U’Mussar, vol. 1, p. 191)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.