Friendship Needed

The tale of Choni Hama’agal the original Rip Van Winkle starts off heartening. It is the story of a sage who watches an elderly farmer plant a seed which he knew would grow no fruit for decades.  Choni questions the farmer about the motive to plant such a tree, if he were not to gain from its fruit. Thereafter Choni falls asleep.  When he awakens he sees the tree laden with fruit and a man picking the fruit.  Not realizing how long he has slept (seventy years) Choni questions the man about the tree and the fruit and finds out that the fruit picker is the grandson of the fruit tree planter, that G-d had arranged for Choni to snooze through decades of years to witness the truth that hard work done by someone has impact and fruits for his grandchildren.

 The story then turns quite sad.  Choni wanders into the new town and finds no one who knows him or recognizes him.  All his contemporaries have passed on.  There is no one who can understand him.  He has no friends.  At that point, he prays to G-d, “O chavrusa o’mesusa  – give me friendship or give me death”.  Choni thereafter is taken to a better world, moving on to join his friends in the great hereafter.

 “[Jeffrey] Dahmer and [Dennis] Nilsen have stated that they killed simply for company. [Martens, 2001 citing Palermo and Martens].

Both men had no friends and their only social contacts were occasional encounters in homosexual bars. Nilsen watched television and talked for hours with the dead bodies of his victims; Dahmer consumed parts of his victims’ bodies in order to become one with them: he believed that in this way his victims lived further in his body.” [1]

 Knei lecha chaver, buy yourself a friendship, it’s cheaper than psychopharmacology.   And, if you are lucky enough to not need that advice, don’t be smug.  It is on you, the onus, to extend friendship to the friendless, for if you don’t, you are to blame for the tragedy that comes out of their feeling so solitarily alone.


[1] Martens, W.H.J. (2001) The Hidden Suffering of the Psychopath.  Psychiatric Times, 19:1


About jewishspectacles

Jewish Spectacles-the kind you look through, not the kind you create!
This entry was posted in Jewish Thought and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s