December 9, 2023
December 9, 2023

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

For many, living in a Jewish community affords the opportunity to maintain existing friendships, rekindle old friendships and create new ones. Of course, not all friendships are the same. Friendships, like the Earth’s crust or a deep lasagna, have many different layers, resulting in a complexity of social strata.

The Talmud alludes to the importance of having friends and maintaining friendships. In Taanit 7a it states: “I have learned a lot from my Rabbeim [but] from my friends I have learned more than from my Rabbeim….” In Taanit 23a, it states: “Give me a chavruta (friend) or give me death!” Similarly, Pirkei Avot 1:6 states: “Make for yourself a Rabbi, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every person as meritorious.” In addition, in Pirkei Avot 5:16 there is a discussion about the virtues of unconditional love/friendship: “Any love that is dependent on something, when that thing perishes, so too does the love. [A love] that is not dependent on something, does not ever perish….”

Sometimes it is hard to figure out just where you stand with respect to certain friends, especially when some friendships can fluctuate more wildly than the stock market and can head south more frequently than Jews on Passover break. Other friendships can be as fickle, cloudy or stormy as the weather.

Below is a test to determine whether you are friends with someone and, if so, how close of a friend you are to that person.

  1. 1. When did you first learn that your friend was pregnant?

(A) third trimester (friends, but not close friends)

(B) at the bris (not friends at all)

(C) before the expecting father (way too close friends)

  1. 2. On Purim, when did your friend drop of Shaloch Manot at your house?

(A) early in the day (good friends)

(B) only when they were driving by your house and you flagged them down (wannabe friends)

(C) only after they heard that you were giving out amazing Shaloch Manot and were angling for an advantageous exchange (not the kind of friends you need)

  1. 3. At their recent simcha, you were seated:

(A) at their table (best friends)

(B) in the coatroom (distant friends)

(C) at a table with complete strangers that was right in front of the DJ’s behemoth, ear-bleeding speakers (frenemies)

  1. 4. When you win the lottery, they:

(A) are sincerely happy for you (good friends)

(B) ask if you need help depositing the money (fake friends)

(C) start acknowledging your existence (fair-weather friends)

  1. 5. When you announce that you are moving out of town, they:

(A) burst out in tears (dear friends)

(B) burst out in song (adversaries)

(C) respond “Wait a minute, you were living here?” (not friends)

  1. 6. With respect to their upcoming wedding, they ask you to:

(A) walk down their aisle (close friends)

(B) not overly dominate the smorgasbord (friends who know you all too well)

(C) obey the restraining order (not your friends)

  1. 7. They invite you for Shabbat lunch:

(A) with their main posse (close friends)

(B) on Shabbos morning at shul and only after someone else cancels at the last minute and after finding out that everyone else is busy (weak friends)

(C) on Yom Kippur (funny friends)

  1. 8. While waiting on the carpool line at school, they:

(A) roll down their window to kibbitz (chatty friends)

(B) offer to take your child home so that you can make your urgent appointment (special friends)

(C) slash your tires so they can get ahead of you on line (not friends)

  1. 9. In synagogue, they:

(A) save you a seat (close friends)

(B) lend you their siddur (considerate friends)

(C) constantly offer you a breath mint and ask when you last bathed (friends with too much candor)

  1. 10. With respect to the Jewish holidays:

(A) on Sukkot, they help you build your sukkah (good friends)

(B) on Pesach, they help you clean your house (really good friends)

(C) on Chanukah, they help themselves to your presents (not your friends)

  1. 11. On New Year’s Eve, they always:

(A) go out to dinner with you (close friends)

(B) text you (electronic friends)

(C) make a resolution to permanently cut ties with you (not your friends)

  1. 12. Before Shabbat, they:

(A) drop off freshly baked challah (sweet friends)

(B) drop off a bottle of wine (fun friends)

(C) drop off their most rambunctious and misbehaved children (not your friends)

Bottom-line: Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer and keep your dairy products refrigerated.

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