Known: Friends and Teachers

(ו) יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן פְּרַחְיָה אוֹמֵר, עֲשֵׂה לְךָ רַב, וּקְנֵה לְךָ חָבֵר, וֶהֱוֵי דָן אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם לְכַף זְכוּת:

(6) Joshua ben Perahiah used to say: make for thyself a teacher, and acquire for thyself a friend, and judge all people with the scale weighted in their favor.

וקנה לך חבר כיצד מלמד שיקנה האדם חבר לעצמו שיאכל עמו וישתה עמו ויקרא עמו וישנה עמו ויישן עמו ויגלה לו כל סתריו סתר תורה וסתר דרך ארץ שכשיושבין ועוסקין בתורה וטעה א' מהם הלכה או ראש הפרק או שיאמר על טמא טהור או על טהור טמא [ועל אסור מותר ועל מותר אסור חבירו מחזירו. ומניין] שכשחבירו מחזירו וקורא עמו שיש להם שכר טוב בעמלן שנא׳ (קהלת י) טובים השנים מן הא' אשר יש להם שכר טוב בעמלם:

And acquire for yourself a friend. How so? This teaches that a person should acquire a friend for himself who will eat with him, and drink with him, and study Scripture and Mishnah with him, and go to sleep with him, and tell him all his secrets, both secrets of the Torah and secrets of the ways of the world. For when they sit and engage in Torah together, and one of them makes a mistake in the law, or the division of chapters, or declares an impure thing pure, or a pure thing impure, [or a forbidden thing permitted or a permitted thing forbidden, then his friend will correct him. And how do we know] that when his friend corrects him and studies with him, that they will have great reward from their studies? For it says (Ecclesiastes 4:9), “The two are better than the one, for they have greater reward from their efforts.”

טוֹבִ֥ים הַשְּׁנַ֖יִם מִן־הָאֶחָ֑ד אֲשֶׁ֧ר יֵשׁ־לָהֶ֛ם שָׂכָ֥ר ט֖וֹב בַּעֲמָלָֽם׃ כִּ֣י אִם־יִפֹּ֔לוּ הָאֶחָ֖ד יָקִ֣ים אֶת־חֲבֵר֑וֹ וְאִ֣יל֗וֹ הָֽאֶחָד֙ שֶׁיִּפּ֔וֹל וְאֵ֥ין שֵׁנִ֖י לַהֲקִימֽוֹ׃

Two are better off than one, for they have greater reward from their efforts. For should they fall, one can raise the other; but woe betide him who is alone and falls with no companion to raise him!


  1. Why do you think these three life recommendations are bundled together? How might they be connected?

  2. What is the goal given for finding yourself this kind of close friend? How does the text say that it benefits you in your life? What do you think it means to reveal life secrets to each other? What would you be missing if you didn’t have these kinds of relationships?

  3. If we see these as instructions for being part of a community, how might each one play out on a communal level? What would be the impact of community members doing all three of these things, both as an impact on themselves and on the community as a whole?

  4. How might we help people in our community, including ourselves, find teachers, friends, and judge each other favorably?

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