NAFSHI

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News Item 349. Mishlei 19-04 (Excesses)

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Friday, November 3.

 הוֹן יֹסִיף רֵעִים רַבִּים וְדָל מֵרֵעֵהוּ יִפָּרֵד

Wealth brings many new friends, but a pauper becomes alienated [even] from his friend.
This proverb compares the effect of excessive wealth and excessive poverty. What effect does money have on personal friendship?
The well-known ability of the wealthy man to attract friends is described by the proverb in terms of his wealth ( הוֹן ), rather than any other personal quality. This implies that many of the “friends” are actually motivated by self-interest. They are drawn by the opportunity to benefit from the association with a rich person.
In contrast, the effect of extreme poverty in destroying an individual’s self-confidence is evident in his dwindling circle of friends. The proverb refers to the pauper as a poor man ( דָל ) who may have only one friend left ( רֵעֵהוּ ). Due to an over-emphasis on appearances, the pauper sees himself as the kind of person that others will not want to associate with and so he retreats into isolation, withdrawing from his one good friend.