Anyone can tell you one of the worst parts about a problem, an issue, or just a general bad day – when you’re looking for help, or even just a little sympathy, and no one seems to notice. Or worse, you are getting sympathy, but not from the one person who you really hope will help. Or even worse, people notice, but no one cares.
Put up your virtual hand (that’s why computer mice icons sometimes show up like hands!) if you’ve ever had a day like that. Another hand if, like me, you’re coming off one right now.
I’ll get to the cheerful part soon and stop making you feel lousy.
Why does it bug us so much when we need sympathy and no one listens? Isn’t that a bit pathetic? Why does someone else saying ‘Oy, that’s hard!’ do so much to lift our mood?
I won’t go into psychology here. Some possible answers are that it makes us feel validated and supported. It helps us to know, for whatever reason, that someone else cares. And sometimes just verbalizing the issue helps solve it. And when in doubt, a friend makes you feel less guilty for taking another piece of chocolate to lift that awful mood. :)
Historically, the Jewish people have always been very group-oriented. We daven (pray) in groups, we learn in groups, we both celebrate weddings and mourn deaths as communities. We have many strong connections to each other as a whole, and are further connected by tribe- with each group fulfilling tasks that could not be performed as well by someone else. Perfect examples are Yissachar and Zevulun, or the tithes given by the rest of the nation to the Cohanim and Leviim.
One of the explanations given to the phrase ‘נעשה ונשמע’ has always resonated with me, and it seems perfect to bring up now. If each individual member of Binay Yisroal spoke, why does it say ‘We will do?’
One answer is that not all 613 mitzvot can be observed by each person alone. There are mitzvot for men, mitzvot for women, mitzvot for parents, mitzvot for children. There are mitzvot for only Cohanim, only Leviim, and believe it or not, mitzvot that only a regular member of Binay could perform.
When they said ‘We will do’, what they were in essence saying was that each person would do all the mitzvot they were able to do, so that as a nation, every mitzvah would be fulfilled.
As you can see, despite popular media often saying the contrary, we were not meant to be totally self-sufficient. Man can perhaps survive, but not thrive, without interpersonal relationships.
And, just as an aside- this is doubly true of our relationship with G-d. We need Him, and He needs us. If we call out, He will help. Just as we need to have a give and take relationship with our fellow creations (no-one likes a one-sided friendship), we need to thank G-d for His help, and ‘Help’ Him, so to speak, in return.
So when you see a friend, or even just another person, in need, help them. Think about how lonely you would feel if they were you. Who knows, they might just return the favor when you need it most. Hopefully our joint efforts in בין האדם למקום (man to G-d) and בין אדם לחברו (man to man) will hasten the redemption, speedily in our days!
Ps. Some of that proof I was talking about. Looks safe, but as always, click at your own peril. http://blog.clarity.fm/the-friends-effect-its-saving-your-life/