Friend 2 Friend caseworker, Laurie Caplan, recently shared a d’var Torah with her colleagues. Jewish or not, JBBBS staff found meaning in her reflection on friendship, so we couldn’t wait to share!
Jewish literature and thought offer many insights into the nature of friendship, the rewards it offers, and the efforts one should make to sustain a friendship. I’d like to start out with a story by Rabbi Harold Kushner, who is a bestselling author and one of the most recognized rabbis in the world.
He tells the story of watching two children playing in the sand on a beach one summer day. They were hard at work building an elaborate sand castle by the waters edge, with gates and towers and moats and internal passages. Just when they had nearly finished their project, a big wave came along and knocked it down, reducing it to a heap of wet sand. The expected response would be for the children to burst into tears, devastated by what had happened to all their hard work. But, surprisingly, they ran up the shore away from the water, laughing and holding hands, and sat down to build another castle.
There is an important message to get from this. All the things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are built on sand. Only our relationships to other people endure. Sooner or later, the wave will come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When that happens, only the person who has somebody’s hand to hold will be able to laugh.
Nothing in this world makes us as strong as knowing we’ve got a friend we can count on. I used to work as a preschool teacher, and in my experience, there is nothing more wonderful than watching new friendships bloom and develop between children. Similarly, is what we experience through the Friend 2 Friend program. The friendships that we develop are truly holy. By developing friendships we are embodying Jewish values. When we think about friends and the unique relationship of friendship, we are made aware of the presence of G-d. In Jewish context, friendship is more than just a social connection. Friends offer help, loyalty, protection, support, unselfish love and moral guidance. Judaism defines friendship “as one of the primary relationships in life. It is a tie at times exceeding that which bonds blood relatives.” According to the Sages of the Talmud, a life without friendship was unthinkable. In Ecclesiastes, it is written, “two is better than one because they have good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falls, for he has not another to lift him up.”(4:9-10)
Friendships start here. To learn more about volunteering at JBBBS, visit us online.