Kislev 5761 – Friends Who Stray From Torah

1 Kislev 5761

Dear Chana,

I have some very good friends who grew a lot in seminary – and really seemed to have changed. But, now since we have been back from Israel, I have noticed that they have started doing certain things – which aren’t really acceptable. They were “strong” for a while – but now things seem to be sliding. I don’t want to give up my friendship with them – [for a lot of reasons], but I also don’t want to be influenced by them. You see, there are really two issues here – 1] it really upsets me that they are hurting themselves spiritually. They know better, and they are really making some wrong decisions, and 2] I’m not sure in terms of myself; what should I do about my friendship with them?

Thank you,

[Name & seminary withheld upon request]

Well, this certainly can be an issue! It is both sad and frustrating on many levels when you see this sort of thing with friends that you care so much about.

Issue # 1 – Them. As I see it there are two possibilities. You can speak to them and try to point out that whatever it is that they are doing is really beneath them. Try to get them to see it through their “seminary eyes” – remind them of the direction that they had been in after seminary. All of this should come from a loving and deep spot within you and not from a judgmental, “Holier-Than-Thou”, or self-righteous place.

The second thing that you can do is to find a Rabbi or mentor of sorts that your friends can relate to – and try to “make the shidduch” and connect him or her with them. Perhaps an outsider who will see things in a straightforward and objective manner will be able to be very helpful. Maybe they will be able to hear it from him. [You can even try to arrange the whole thing in what appears to be some “natural” way – and they need not know that you were involved].

I know that it is very upsetting to you but, what you can do is to try very sincerely to help – and don’t forget to Daven for them! As you know, everyone gets to make their own decisions – that is what Bechirah is all about. By making sure that they do see both options in front of them [and not letting them totally sweep the good option under the carpet], you are doing a very good thing.

Issue #2 – You. Hashpa’as Hasaviva is quite a big deal. You must be very careful to strengthen yourself in all the right areas. It sounds like this friendship that you have with them runs very deep indeed. But you have to make sure that the things that you do with them YOU are totally comfortable with and you’re not COMPROMISING YOUR STANDARDS! Check and double check yourself to make sure that you are where you need to be – and are continuously heading in the direction that you have set for yourself. Also try to cultivate other friendships with girls that are more on par with your goals. Attend Shiurim, and make sure you have set up geddarim. Be sure to be in contact with your Rav, so he can guide you through all the vicissitudes in your life.