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Won’t Let Go

Won’t Let Go

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Dear Rachel,

You know that song “Let It Go?” Well, I can’t. It’s very hard for me to let go of friendships or relationships. I am a very loyal person, and once I become connected, I want to stay connected. I have no problem with making new friends; I just don’t want to let go of the old ones. I get hurt and angry when people sever relationships, and I can’t understand why they aren’t as loyal to me as I am to them. Please help me let go of them and my resentment.

Can’t let go


Dear Letting Go,

Friendship is addressed in several places in Jewish sources.

In the Talmud, Choni HaMeagel cries: “Either a friend or death.” (Taanit 23)

In Ethics of the Fathers 2:9, Rabbi Yehoshua says that a good friend is the path a person should cling to.

Yehoshua ben Perchya advises: “Acquire for yourself a friend.” (Ethics of the Fathers, 1:6)

Interestingly, in all three quotes, “friend” is in the singular.

The bible has very few descriptions of friendship. The archetypical example of a good friend is the friendship between David and Jonathan, the son of his adversary to the throne and later, his brother-in-law. They had a covenant of friendship. Their loyalty and love for each other was pure and perfect. There is nothing one would not do for the other.

There are very few true friendships that are like life bonds and covenants of friendship. We often confuse acquaintances, friendliness, neighborliness and circumstantial company as friendship.

A story is told about a young man who claimed to have many friends. His father said he had only two true friends, and one was closer than the other. He doubted his son’s friends were really true. They tested the father’s theory. The son killed a goat and hid its bleeding carcass in a sack. He went from friend to friend, telling them he had killed a government official and begged them to hide him. They all closed and bolted the door in his face. Then the father sent him to his second-closest friend. The friend, hearing he was the son of his good friend, said: “Well, I probably shouldn’t do this, but I’ll hide you.”

The son returned to the father, admitting he had been right, but asked him why he called the friend who was ready to hide him the lesser true friend. His father replied: “The other one wouldn’t have said, ‘Perhaps I shouldn’t do this.’ ”

Now, don’t try this at home! What the story illustrates, however, is that what we overuse the word “friend.” Our 600 Facebook “friends” are not friends. A friend is someone you have a very close relationship with over a long period of time, with whom you can feel secure in being yourself, who knows you deeply, and who truly loves and appreciates you. It’s a friend with whom you feel a lifelong bond that goes above time, place and circumstance—a true soul sister or brother.

The other kinds of friendships are part of the ebb and flow of life. You win some and lose others as part of change and growth and new circumstances and opportunities. It is counterproductive to try and force people to stay friends with you if they no longer want to. G‑d brings the people who are necessary to our life’s journey into our lives and takes them out of our lives when they are no longer needed as part of the cast of players to help us achieve our life’s purpose. Is it not paradoxical, an oxymoron, to try to hold onto friends?

Ask yourself who among your friends are your real true soul sisters—the ones who have and would be with you through thick and thin, the ones you have acquired and have saved you from emotional death, the ones who would help you in your time of need—a truly good friend? These should be rare, just a few. Maybe even only one. And those are the friendships you should value and continue to nurture.

As far as the others, let go of them if they have served their purpose and move on. And spend more time with your real true friends.

In Friendship,

Rachel

Rosally Saltsman is a freelance writer originally from Montreal living in Israel.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Anonymous April 9, 2017

What if you have such a close and real friend who you confided yourself in and who you thought was finally the one friend you were looking for - but she suddenly became resentful to you, you feel like she's keeping her distance from you. You thought you could trust her and you felt like you were friend-soulmates - but it's as is she just dropped you... Reply

Rosally Saltsman Petach Tikvah April 19, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I would suggest talking to her and asking her directly what caused her change in attitude. Reply

Nancy April 19, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I feel your pain. I am so sorry. You are not alone in this experience. Please trust Hashem & know He loves you, & He is really the only one that counts. You WILL meet other people ypu like as well or better. Give it time. Reply

Nancy April 19, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Maybe it would help if you go to your local JCC ... get involved there ...meet some nice people your age ... you will surely find some happiness there. Reply

Nancy Texas April 1, 2017

You will probably never be told outright why some or many of your friends drift away. But in my own experience, when I did find out why it was because my "friends" and I did not truly share the same outlook and values in life.

The biggest reasons I discovered were that each "friend" either felt they were closer to Hashem than I or that I spoke of Him & things related to Him too often.

Or they may have just gotten so burdened down with everyday life and it's problems that they actually had little contact with anyone outside their small circle.

In any case, you really do need to just let it go. Know that it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you and really probably in most cases with them either.

And sometimes years later they will reach out to you and you'll see the whole story. Reply

Nancy BELTONbelton March 30, 2017

"Friends are ok... they come & go. But a good enemy can last you a lifetime"

-Hagar the Horrible Reply

jim dallas March 29, 2017

people deserve respect, till they don't, then you have to be careful...lots of aquaintances, too many relatives, only rarely friends. G knows what is happening, trust HaShem! know nothing but HaShem. Reply

M. Diane Queens, NYC April 20, 2017
in response to jim:

B"H... Hi Dallas Jim!

And also: People deserve Love even if (in our eyes and faulty spiritual vision) they don't.

One of the best talks I ever heard from a Torah scholar in my whole life contained this idea (which I will paraphrase):

Take more risk than seems safe;
love more than seems wise;
have big bold impractical dreams; and,
expect results that look impossible.

Isn't that a nice synopsis on how to live life, love and befriend?

You are so right when you say our trust should be in Hashem! We should trust Him to the point of knowing He might put a person in our path. If G-d does that, then what a shame it would be if we casually discard souls and miss something He intended for our good.

Shabbat Shalom!
(BTW, did you get any of Ms. Miriam's cooking yet? She has some challah up on her blog now that looks outrageously light and delicious!) Reply

jim dallas April 21, 2017
in response to M. Diane:

hi diane in ny, i usually agree with you and enjoy and benefit from your comments as i do all these other readers, students, and fellow travelers in life. and miriam is a great cook and chef i am sure...i just love challah! Reply

N.K March 29, 2017

It is like a concentric circle with true friends near the centre, strangers on the outer circle if you are someone who thinks visually. Being able to categorize your friendship and ties as it is, is a skill. Reply

zs BROOKLYN March 27, 2017

thank you i'm convinced! Reply

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