Give Me Either Friendship Or Give Me Death
“HaMa’agal” – Talmud, Tractate Ta’anis
What? Friendship or death? I thought it was, “Give me liberty or give me death!” It appears that two millennia ago, the wisdom of the Talmud predated neuroscience. Before that, the Mishnah states: “Greet each person with a friendly smile” (Pirkei Avos 1:5). In his commentary on this Mishnah, Rabbi Yisroel Lipshitz, the Tiferes Yisroel stated: “Doing this act of kindness to all people will increase the positive feelings others have towards us. The recipient of your smile gains…When you smile to someone, he is apt to smile to you and this will increase your own positive feelings.” Then, in the next line it says that having a friend is so important that we should acquire one even if we need to pay for one!!! We don’t necessarily need use money, but we may need to spend time and energy to develop and maintain a friendship.
I find it fascinating to see current psychology and neuroscience trends mirroring the ancient Torah’s wisdom. Only in the late 20th and early 21st Century, has research in Positive Psychology and related fields shown that friendship, bonding, kindness, and meaningful relationships have a strong, positive correlation with longevity and overall wellness. The Chofetz Chayim in his book Ahavas Chesed says, “Friends are valuable for happiness.” Almost all of our thoughts and feelings are translated into neurotransmitters – brain messengers – that modulate hormones to flow through our systems. One very important such mood enhancer is Oxytocin the bonding hormone. When we bond with a friend, a loved one, or even a pet, Oxytocin flows through our system. Some researchers in neuroscience say that there are “mirror neurons” that reflect emotions, one to the other. King Solomon shares this principle, “Just as water reflects face to face, similarly does the heart of one reflect into the other (Proverbs 27:19).
During this COVID era, it is particularly important to stay in regular contact with friends and loved ones, even if it is challenging, or requires digital devices to stay connected. In life, and to live well, friendships are a necessity. As my maternal grandfather, “Gramp” said, “When you show a happy face, you enrich the human race.” In honor of the importance of friendships, I am sharing my minEBook, “’Cause You Got To Have Friends,” quotes about Friendship that I culled to be inspired and to share inspiration with my own friends. CLICK HERE to download my Friendship book today.
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– Rus Devorah Wallen, Founder