Go ahead; list the ten most important relationships in your life. Some will be family and others will be business and work relationships. There will probably be a few friends on the list too. Family relationships are fairly well defined. The obligations and expectations of those relationships are, for the most part, known quantities. Business relationships are also clear, governed as most are by contracts. But what about friends? What are the obligations of friendship? What are reasonable expectations of friendship?
While the Five Books of Moses are packed with rules and rituals that shape both family and business relationships, it is notably light on mention of friendships. We know just what employees owe their employers and vice versa, and we know what parents owe children and what children owe their parents, but if we ask people what they owe their friends, the answer could be, “It depends on the friend.”
Everyone knows the answer to the question, “For how long will your parent be your parent?” If asked for how long a marriage is intended to last, the correct answer is, ‘This is forever.’ But if one is asked for how long one’s friend will be one’s friend, the prudent answer is, “I don’t know.” The true answer might be, “For as long as we both want to be friends.”