In the 25 January 2017 edition of the TIMES OF ISRAEL I wrote an article called “On Friendship”. It began with the words in the first line: “there is nothing more dear to a man’s life than a treasured friend” and I quoted a source from the Talmud which was, is and forever will be the philosophy and religion of my life
“O chevruta o mituta”… Give me friendship or give me death”. For truly, a life without friendship is not a life. Rather it is a lonely and lingering death.
Other than my personal family, my greatest treasure is the friends whom I have met and kept over many years. Making friends may be easy; keeping friends is more difficult. It takes will, desire, faith, understanding, compassion and caring to understand a friend and to preserve a friendship.
A friend does not have to be in the image of ourselves. It can be a similarity but different in many aspects. From such a friend we can learn and grow in our wisdom and in our devotion.
The Lord my God has blessed me beyond my greatest expectation. Friends of my youth and friends made over years have inspired me and have kept me young in mind and in spirit. Some of my friends, contemporaries in life, have left this world. And while they lived they made the world a better place.
Now I have made new friends in both near and faraway places. They have rejuvenated my life with their knowledge and skills of twenty-first century technology.
Therein, we have little in common. I don’t have an I-phone. I am computer illiterate. I only know how to turn the computer on and off, to read the news, to check my e-mail messages and to reply, and then to decide upon a theme for my next TIMES OF ISRAEL article, this being #1,083.
During these days of un-enforced self-confinement my mind turns frequently to dear friends, present and past. I open the album of hundreds of photos and I smile at the recognition of familiar faces of the living and of the dead. They all bring back to me cherished memories. The friendship never ends.
Some of my newest friends are young enough to be my grandchildren. They inspire me with the freshness and vitality of their work and of their thoughts. It is a new world and I seek to find a place for myself in it. The inspiration I get from a younger generation brings hope of a better and saner world.
In a very recent telephone conversation with a young representative of Sonovia, the Ramat- Gan based industry which produces, among other items, millions upon millions of their Sono-Masks, considered the best in the world for protection against the novel coronavirus, we have discussed problems of our society and have found a common interest between us that developed into an e-mail friendship, a new kind of friendship and one that I admire and respect. I look forward to a continuation of it. (this article was inspired by Andrew Shulman of Sonovia).
Friendship comes in all sizes and colors as well as of all faiths, ideals and truth. With such attributes, true friendship knows no bounds, no hidden barriers.
In my writing I find it necessary to read and re-read each word before I submit it to my editors for publication. God forbid that I should offend any of my readers.
Once, a reader wrote to me and asked me, referring to Justice Minister Amir Ohana, why I don’t write a piece about same-sex marriages.
Not wanting to be offensive, I replied to her that while I have full respect for LGBT persons and am not opposed to them living together and sharing lives and love together, I am frankly opposed to same-sex marriages.
In the Jewish religion the word for marriage is “kiddushin”… holiness, and our Torah defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The woman who inquired sent me another e-mail in which she disagreed strongly with my reply to her and she wrote that I am a bigot. God forbid such a word for me.
I accept people or reject people based upon who they are and what they do, say, or write. I do not support hatred, bigotry or racism of any kind. She never wrote to me again.
I live my life with a clean conscience and I hope that Hashem will accept my daily prayers, one of which petitions Him to grant me “chevruta ne-emana”, faithful and lasting friendships.
For without the chevruta (friendship) there is only mituta (death).
And for me, my life must be worth living.
As I wrote in my 25 January 2017 article “there is nothing more dear to a man’s life than a treasured friend”.
And I stand by my conviction!