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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Getting invited to all the right parties

Moed Katan 10

The more we become enmeshed in social media the more widespread the epidemic of ‘status anxiety’ becomes.  Everyone wants to be someone and it’s no longer about how many friends you have but who they are.

Our friends, Kerry and Sheldon, suffer from status anxiety.  They are never satisfied with their social circle and are constantly working at getting invited to the ‘right’ parties.  Sadly, over the years many people who thought they were their friends have realized that they were just being used as a stepping stone to reach the next level of status.

How do you know if a friendship is real or you are just being used?

Rava taught: Concerning one who clears branches from his yard on Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the festival, when work in the field is forbidden) – if his intention is to use the wood (for burning), he may do so.  But if his intention is to prepare the earth (for cultivation), he may not. 

How do we determine his intent?  If he takes the large branches and leaves the twigs, his intention is the wood (to warm himself).  If he takes both the large and small pieces, his intention is the earth.

How do you tell whether a person is sincere or insincere in their friendship?  If they only take the large branches and ignore the little ones – if they’re only interested in befriending the ‘important’ people – they’re insincere, and you must recognize their ‘friendship’ for what it is.  They’re only doing it to ‘warm themselves.’ 

But if they take both the large and small pieces – their friendship and kindness extends to all people great and small – their intention is for the earth, i.e. to make this world a better place, loving all people as created in the image of G-d.  It’s those kinds of people that offer sincere friendship and it is well worth investing in a relationship with them.

On the flipside, sometimes you need to look inside and ask yourself whether you are in any way guilty of being that large branch gatherer.   Are your offers of friendship sincere or just to stay warm?  Do you strive to be a friend to all?

When was the last time you reached out to someone less fortunate in the community and offered them your friendship?   Do you ever use your social connections to help others who may be lacking employment and other opportunities?  Do you talk to the same people at the synagogue kiddush (repast) each week or do you endeavour to invite a stranger to your table to join your crowd?

It’s time to gather all the branches, great and small.  Life isn’t about keeping yourself warm.  It’s about working the earth – making this world a better place.  Pick up a small branch today!

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