What does the mishna mean when it says knei l'cho chaver, buy for yourself a chaver? Why should you have friends?
Now that's a good question, it's not as simple as you think. They tell about the Chofetz Chaim that he didn't have friends; he didn't associate much with people. He was busy all the time teaching, doing gemilus chasodim, he traveled from place to place and established kosher kitchens for the Jewish soldiers. He did all kinds of good things, but he didn't have friends, he didn't have cronies to associate with them.
It's a good question, why do you have to have cronies? And the answer is, you don't but you have to have chaverim. Now here is the way to do it, knei l'cho chaver, acquire chaverim. First of all when you are learning, it's a big mistake to learn by yourself. When a person sits by himself and he learns, he's going to deceive himself, he'll waste his life away. Very important to teach that to all your children; get accustomed to chavrusos. When you talk it over to each other, it's lively, it's actual, and you'll remember it, and understand it better very important.
Now sometimes there are exceptional cases, people without chavrusos succeed in learning, but do you know what they do? I once saw a yeshiva man, I'll tell you how he developed today he's a good rosh yeshiva. He sat by himself and learned, but he talked aloud to himself all the time, he talked over the whole piece of Gemara constantly, like this. I watched him in the beis hamedrash, he said aloud the whole Rashi, Tosfos over and over again, so that's a form of chavruso! He was a chavruso with himself. You must do that it's a tragedy to learn by yourself and not do that. Life goes by and you think you understand it you're just deceiving yourself.
How do you buy a chaver? Knei means with money; if necessary pay money for a chaver; yes, don't be ashamed. If you can acquire him by giving him something in return you are friendly to him, and you cooperate with him, and he sees that you're giving him in return a benefit in your chavruso in learning, that's also knei. You must buy a chaver, whatever the price is. A chaveris very important.
It doesn't mean that you have to associate with him all the time, on the street and visit him in his home. I don't believe in visits at all visiting! It's devorim beteilim. But when you come together for certain good purposes, a chaver is very important. In avodas Hashem, sometimes a chaver is very important in maasim tovim. It's not easy to get a chaver in maasim tovim.There's a sefer called Cheshbon Hanefesh; he says that if you have an intelligent wife, she's the best chaver to work in mussar together. Of course it's not so easy! But if you have such a wife, he has a whole program to work on a different midah every week. You and your wife get together and you plan this week's midah. One week you talk about savlonus, another week you talk about zerizus. There are thirteen midos, four times during the year, you go through each seder.
So he says the best chavruso to work on mussar is a wife that's intelligent. Otherwise do it anyhow.
Good Shabbos To All
This is transcribed from questions that were posed to Harav Miller by the audience at the Thursday night lectures.
To listen to the audio of this Q & A please dial: 201-676-3210