Torah Thinkers Forum

41. Chapter 10a: Social Life: Friends


I.    Friends

          Friends are precious, and rare.  They are hard to find and require effort to keep but the effort is very worthwhile.

          A good friend is someone you can relate to comfortably, who can share your experiences and emotions and who sincerely desires the very best for you.  Obviously then, the best friends a person interested in Judaism can have, are other people interested in Judaism.  Finding others to talk to, who can offer support and share new experiences, is essential in your development and necessary for your success and well being. The Talmud tells us, acquiring a friend is as important as finding a Rebbe.

          Fortunately, there are thousands of Jews today that are in the process of becoming more Jewishly committed.  To meet them, one need only start attending Jewish functions.  Classes, lectures, Shabbatonim, and holiday retreats are the best places to meet people that can provide you with friendship and support.  It's guaranteed that the friendships you make at these types of events will be genuine.  It's common knowledge that people feel closest to those with whom they've shared meaningful experiences.  Therefore, you are going to feel very close to fellow Jews with whom you've spent a beautiful Shabbos.  The more meaningful the activity you experience with others, the stronger the friendship you develop.  This is why Jewish social life is tied so closely to Jewish religious life.  Your best friends will generally be the people you study with, pray with or spend holidays with.

          This is not to say, there's anything wrong with going bicycle riding with your friends, on the contrary, that’s great! We’re just saying, friendships based upon worthwhile shared activities will assuredly prove to be more valuable.

          There is no need to give up good, old friendships.  Close and meaningful relationships are rare and should be held onto.  A close friend ought to be supportive of your newfound interest and be able to talk to you about it.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Many of your Jewish friends, according to our experience, will react negatively to your pursuit of religion and may find it difficult to maintain the friendship.  There are various reasons why this is so: some feel threatened by their own lack of observance, some will feel you have become critical of them and their lifestyle, and a few will presume you’ve been brainwashed - they will do their best to avoid you.

          Most secular Jews have serious misconceptions concerning their observant brethren. Secular Jews believe observant Jews don’t really consider them Jewish.  Such an attitude will naturally cause a strain on your relationship and will test the friendship.  You can, however, with great patience and avoidance of “preaching”, correct many of these mistaken notions.   The friends that listen and allow you to be yourself, are true friends.   

          As for non-Jewish friends, our experience has been, they usually are more supportive and respectful.  Perhaps this is because your religiosity has no real implications to them, positive or negative, emotional or psychological.

          Whether your friends are Jewish or not, there is nothing wrong with maintaining your relationship with them. Realistically, though, one should anticipate that some of your friendships will be affected by your becoming observant.  Don’t be deterred by this.  It’s a very good bet, as we’ve mentioned, that you will form new and more meaningful relationships based on shared interests, experiences and values as you become more involved in an observant Jewish life.     




COM_EASYBLOG_GUEST Monday, 27 January 2020
Last updated on: 01/27/2020
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