When you are successful the world is at your feet. But what about when you fall?
The boxer Willie Pep made perhaps the most pointed observation on people’s tendency to desert: “The first things to go are your legs. Then it’s your reflexes. And then it’s your friends.”
The Rabbis discuss the tendency of people to befriend those who are wealthy only to abandon them when they suffer a reversal in fortune. Rav Papa said: “At the gate of the shop there are many brothers and friends; at the gate of loss there are neither brothers nor friends.” Raba put it this way: “When the ox is fallen the knife is sharpened” (Shabbat 32a). As a wit once put it: “Not only does he wish his friends to do well, he insists upon it.”
Deep friendships are not dependent upon success or wealth or fame. When Ruth spoke those immortal words to Naomi, “Where you go, I will go” Naomi had no money and no prospects. Genuine friends in life see you plain — not as one surrounded by trappings or power, but a human heart, in God’s image, worthy of love.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press), has recently been published.