fbpx
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Friends

Print This Article

One glorious sunny day, my girlfriend "C" and I share a seaside restaurant table with a married couple, call them Harry and Sylvia.

Harry gazes at Sylvia with such a glow. I tingled with memory.

"What a look!" I say to Sylvia, while Harry goes to the pickup window for their order. "He seems to love you so much."

"I didn’t notice," she says.

Only a second before, I thought the sun rose in his eyes. I wanted for myself what Harry gives Sylvia. I kiddingly consider placing a personal ad: "Done with chemo. Are you man enough for me?"

It was just a thought.

Harry returns, followed by C, with our own fish orders. It’s so easy to read bliss into marriage, especially if you’re single and imagine that fate cut you short.

Romantic ideals mislead us into regressing into the heroism of King Arthur; that one person can fulfill all needs, not only providing companionship in good times, but compassion during the bad. Long love means ancient patience, selflessness and a willingness to read medical charts and search for Web sites on new experimental solutions; on such myths is domestic rancor born.

Meanwhile, we don’t see the light in our loved one’s eyes.

With friendship, we suffer no such delusions; gladly, we share the tasks with as many as are willing.

Over time, with each of my friends I have forged marriage-like bonds, comfortable and committed. C won’t let me get up to get an extra tartar sauce. We go back more than 30 years, to the days when designer Perry Ellis was alive.

"My friends take turns staying with me," I tell Sylvia. "They hardly leave me alone."

"You’re lucky," she says. "All my friends are dead."

I’ve lived 15 years without a husband. But I wouldn’t last a week without my friends.

Disease makes the distinctions between marriage and friendship all the clearer. One man, no matter how good, can only do so much. It takes an e-mail list to heal a woman.

Friendship is the harvest of living. How valuable is the crop.

There is an economy among friends, much like setting the interest rate. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan weighs the financial growth of the nation using job expansion, consumer confidence, unemployment.

So life, too, has its own complex "economic indicators." Health, friendship, intimacy, creativity, finance, shelter, spirituality.

Through these, I assess my own personal treasury, deciding how much to rely on each factor. Whatever my troubles, in terms of friends, there is a strong, good yield.

This week’s Torah portion, KiTetze, contrasts the conflicts of marriage to the obligations of friendship.

In marriage, the Torah warns that anything can go wrong. Love starts strong, but can wither. Passion can lead to divorce, and with it comes the obligation to a lovelorn child. No wonder so much space is devoted to care of the orphan, the widow and the stranger, those who suffer innocently when marriage ends.

Friendship expects less, yields more. Even distant friends must be treated like brothers. My favorite of this week’s biblical passages suggests that if you see a fellow’s ox has fallen on the road, don’t ignore it; help him raise it.

Friendship depends on the raising up of each other, on being there for the visits and the comfort. Knowing when to act and when to leave.

A few weeks ago, when my body weight was at its ninth-grade low, my buddies assigned themselves the task of putting meat on my bones.

Some of them did the shopping. Others the cooking. Still others sat with me during the torture of watching me clean my plate, while I was learning once again to swallow.

They didn’t ask my permission. Good thing, too. I couldn’t speak, but I was tempted to say "no thanks." Part of me rebelled, another part dripped with ego. I was the ox that had fallen. I needed raising up.

My friends were my mirror, and I let them reflect back at me. I needed feeding.

Soup, salmon and ice cream help gain weight faster than false pride.

"Be tranquil," the sages say. "If there is anything needed, my friend will see it and do it for me."

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.

Previous articleStrange BRU
Next article7 Days In Arts

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Giving Season

Pandemic Has Altered The Rules of Fundraising

This article originally appeared in The New York Jewish Week The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is massive, costing hundreds of thousands of lives and...

Two Phrases That May Explain Why Giving Comes Naturally

Two women pass a beggar on the street. They have the same income and expenses. The first weeps at the suffering of the beggar and gives him $5 out of the goodness of her heart. The second notices but rushes past. Later in the day, however, she feels compelled because of her religious beliefs and returns to give the beggar $100. Who is the better person? Why are Jews so generous?

Eight Degrees of Giving Help Both Sides for Jews

Human nature is to desire to be self-sufficient. Most of us are uncomfortable being takers and prefer earning our own keep. If, due to dire circumstances, we find ourselves on the receiving end, our reaction is generally one of mortification. The Torah is acutely sensitive to the precarious dynamic between patrons and their beneficiaries. The Torah's word for the act of giving to the needy, tzedakah, although commonly translated as "charity," more accurately means "justice."

Latest Articles

From Darkness to Wisdom — Thoughts on Torah Portion Vayeitzei 2020

I can imagine Jacob justifiably bemoaning his fate as he trudges toward Paddam Aram. Jacob was the one, the Bible tells us, who was...

Obama’s Revisionist ‘Promised Land’

His memoir, A Promised Land, is filled with historical inaccuracies that I feel the need to address.

Past Tensions Between Biden, Erdoğan Cast Shadow Over Ankara-Washington Relations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is bracing for a stormy four years.

How Yeshiva Prepared Me To Excel in Secular Education

As a former yeshiva student, it’s challenging balancing higher education, a high-tech career and a significant emphasis on Torah study.

Theology of Thanksgiving: Whom Shall We Thank?

We must give up either Divine power or Divine goodness.

Will the Pandemic Trigger the Next Jewish Revolution?

As we experience an unprecedented global pandemic, more Jews than at any other time in history are being exposed to Jewish platforms of culture,...

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parsha Vayetze with Tzvia Rubens

Tzvia Rubens, of Hebrew Union in Ohio, is our guest this week, and we discuss Parshat Vayetze which begins when Jacob leaves Canaan and journeys to Charan. On...

The Lucas Project: How You Can Help Boys with ALD

Lucas' Story When Lucas was 3 months old we were notified that he tested...

This Thanksgiving, I’m Grateful to Councilmember David E. Ryu

I dedicate this column to thanking Councilmember David Ryu of Los Angeles’s fourth district.

A Time to Redefine Thanksgiving and A Time to Reclaim It

A year ago, we were in a dilemma about what to do with too much and too many. This year, our dilemma is what to do, period.

Culture

Breathing New Life Into A Thanksgiving Pumpkin Tradition

Why stick with the ordinary pumpkin when you can accessorize into a whole line of winter squashes with far more panache?

MOTs Score Grammy Nominations

This year’s nominees include several Members of the Tribe, including Jerry Seinfeld, Tiffany Haddish, Rachel Maddow and Spike Jonze, in categories that reflect their particular talents.

Donations of Appreciated Stock Unlock Charitable Currency, Bring Fulfillment

A few years ago, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) ran an advertisement with an attention-grabbing headline: To open a charitable...

Giving Thanks for the Yummiest Holiday Ever

Little 7 year old me arrived in Los Angeles from Casablanca one week before Halloween. My uncle took me to get a costume and...

An Unconventional Holiday Season

Last Passover, my mom, my sister and I sat at our kitchen table and ate thick slices of New York pizza. “We are bad Jews,”...

Latest Articles
Latest

From Darkness to Wisdom — Thoughts on Torah Portion Vayeitzei 2020

I can imagine Jacob justifiably bemoaning his fate as he trudges toward Paddam Aram. Jacob was the one, the Bible tells us, who was...

Obama’s Revisionist ‘Promised Land’

His memoir, A Promised Land, is filled with historical inaccuracies that I feel the need to address.

Past Tensions Between Biden, Erdoğan Cast Shadow Over Ankara-Washington Relations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is bracing for a stormy four years.

How Yeshiva Prepared Me To Excel in Secular Education

As a former yeshiva student, it’s challenging balancing higher education, a high-tech career and a significant emphasis on Torah study.

Theology of Thanksgiving: Whom Shall We Thank?

We must give up either Divine power or Divine goodness.

Hollywood

‘Oslo’ Drama Underway from Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt

Steven Spielberg, Mark Platt and David Litvak are bringing the J.T. Rogers’ Tony Award-winning play “Oslo,” about the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Peace Accords, to HBO....

‘Valley of Tears’ Tells Harrowing Stories of the 1973 Yom Kippur War

As Yom Kippur began in 1973, attacks by Syria and Egypt took Israel by surprise, launching a 19-day war in which more than 10,000...

Sophia Loren Plays a Holocaust Survivor in ‘The Life Ahead’

In her first feature film since “Nine” in 2009, screen legend Sophia Loren plays a Holocaust survivor who takes in motherless children in “The...

Podcasts

David L. Graizbord: The New Zionists

Shmuel Rosner and David L. Graizbord discuss his new book, The New Zionists: Young American Jews, Jewish National Identity, and Israel. David Graizbord is an...

Pandemic Times Episode 107: Some deep reflections before Thanksgiving

New David Suissa Podcast Every Tuesday and Friday. A conversation with Danielle Ames Spivak, CEO of American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic. How do we manage...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

x