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News Item 344. Mishlei 18-24

A new proverb was posted to the Mishlei section on Monday, September 18.

A man has friends to socialize with; but there is [to be found] a beloved friend [who is even] closer than a brother.

Human beings are naturally drawn to form friendships and so most people agree that

having friends is important to a person’s well-being.

However, people have very different ideas about the role of friendship in a person’s life. According to one view, the number of friends a person has is a measure of how well like he is. Being popular enhances a person’s self-esteem and ensures that he will not lack for companionship as he goes through life.
Unfortunately, this view overlooks the potential depth one can find in having a close friendship. A close friend spends enough time with a person to really get to know him. That knowledge enables the friend to provide the individual with a mirror into his character, giving him insight into his strengths and his weaknesses. This kind of knowledge is essential if the individual is grow as a human being.
So although a person may think he will be better off with an ever expanding circle of friends, he runs the risk of being left with only superficial relationships. He may end up not giving any one friend the opportunity to really get to know him. As a result he may face a hollow gap in his self-knowedge.