A Story About Friendship

There is an Oriental Jewish romance from about 150 years ago that deals with the nature of friendship. In this story, a father complains that his son spends too much money and time on his friends. The father inquires of the son how many friends he has, and the son estimates them to be about one hundred. The amazed father replies, “I have lived much longer than you, and in my entire life I have accumulated only one and a half friends.”

They devise a plan to test the friends, whereby the son goes to one of his friends at midnight, carrying a loaded sack, saying that he has just killed the Crown Prince in a duel, and asking for help in burying the body and a place to hide. One friend after another throws him out immediately upon hearing the story, and none of them is willing to risk giving him help. The son returns to the father and says, “I understand now what you said about my friends, but are yours better?” The father then sends him first to his half-friend. The son knocks on the door at midnight, and upon hearing the story, the half-friend says, “You behaved very badly, but you are my friend’s son, so come in. I will bury the body and hide you as best I can.”

I like this story. Never read the original myself. Don’t even know what the original is called. The above was taken from Simple Words by Adin Steinsaltz.

What do you learn from the story? Whatever you want to.


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