In this week’s parsha, we talk about the value of being a true friend, and receiving true friendship in return.

As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife’s voice urgently warning him, “Herman, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on the 280. Please be careful!”

“Goodness,” said Herman, “It’s not just one car–it’s hundreds of them!”

Humor aside, how many times in life do we find ourselves “driving on the wrong side of the highway?” And more importantly, how do we get ourselves back on track?

The Talmud teaches that “the imprisoned cannot release himself.” Indeed, when we find ourselves in a challenging situation it takes an objective individual to offer us relief. Who can play that role in our lives?

In Pirkei Avot – Ethics of Our Fathers – we are told “k’nei lecha chaver – acquire a friend for yourself.” Seems like a simple instruction on the surface, but the sages here are not merely referring to the friend who strikes a business deal with you, and not even the friend who shares in your woes – after all, it’s easy to be sad for someone else.

The friendship we are encouraged to acquire is one where the other individual sincerely cares – is genuinely happy for you when you are thriving – and most importantly, a friend whose criticism towards you is not rooted in jealousy, but in an earnest concern for your growth and success.
This is the kind of friend who can redirect us when we get thrown off course on the highway of life.

Let’s all make a resolution to find one person who we know is going through a hard time and genuinely be there for them.

A single kind act has everlasting waves: start the tide of genuine friendship by being a real friend to someone else.