I spent the day with an old history-holding friend, one of those people with whom the history reaches so far back that each comment is rich with understanding.
I spent the day with an old friend, whose insights were so sweet because they were born out of a deep connection and an intrinsic love and acceptance.
I spent the day with a dear old friend, whose response to each comment I made pushed me deeply to examine who I was and who I want to become.
Rabbi Moses Maimonides differentiated three categories of friendship:
a person befriended for a purpose, a person befriended for the sake of satisfaction, and a person befriended for the sake of an ideal. The first includes utilitarian relationships—for example, between a leader and his followers, or an employer and her employees. The second type of relationship produces great pleasure and/or deep trust. The third leads to the pursuit of goodness (Jewish Spiritual Parenting, p. 22).
Those “friends for an ideal,” who are devoted to you – no judgments, no hidden agendas, no buttons pushed – are the sweetest of them all. With their love, the world seems a little kinder, the troubles a little lighter, the future a little brighter.
My friend and I once went a stretch of almost 18 years without being face to face. We may not see each other again for a while again. No matter. The bond transcends space and time.
This time we walked the boardwalk along the Santa Monica shore. We ate sushi, drank coffee and tea, and had dinner together with loved ones. We observed the passage of time and analyzed the changes in our lives.
It was like chevruta (paired Talmud study) where our lives were the text. As Rabbi Chanina wisely observed,
I have learned much from my teachers, but from my friends more than my teachers (BT Ta’anit 7a).
With a single sentence my friend cut through the cacophony and clarified an issue.
With a single question he opened up a whole new way of thinking.
With a single nod he made it clear he got it.
We are often blessed with all kinds of friends:
Day-to-day friends are truly precious.
Work friends bring joy and meaning to the daily grind.
Best friends, of course, are the spice that makes life delicious.
But these devoted, history-holding, once-in-a-blue-moon-visiting friends, especially those whose friendship goes way back to the early years, they are a transcendent gift from God whose value outshines the finest diamonds and rubies.