February 20, 2022

Chagigah 7

Today’s daf (Chagigah 7a) repeatedly references Mishlei 25:17 which states: הֹקַר רַגְלְךָ מִבֵּית רֵעֶךָ פֶּן יִשְׂבָּעֲךָ וּשְׂנֵאֶךָ – ‘Let the presence of your foot be rare in the home of your friend, so that he doesn’t become fed up with you and come to hate you’, and this verse is interpreted by Rav Yochanan as conveying a veiled reference to the pilgrim festivals (which are referred to as רגלים – literally ‘feet’ – since these were the times when pilgrims would travel by foot to the Temple), to teach that there are limits on the number of offerings that pilgrims should bring to the Temple.
Admittedly, as pointed out by Rav Levi, this derivation is somewhat counterintuitive especially given a different biblical verse stating אָבוֹא בֵיתְךָ בְעוֹלוֹת– ‘I will enter Your House with burnt offerings’ (Tehillim 66:13). However, as the Gemara explains, we can distinguish between these two verses whereby in terms of sin (חטאת) and guilt (אשם) offerings we apply the words of Mishlei 25:17 that, ‘let the presence of your foot be rare in the home of your friend’ which emphasizes the notion of limits, while in terms of the עולת ראייה (pilgrimage olah offering) and שלמי חגיגה (festive peace offerings) offerings we apply the unlimited statement from Tehillim 66:13 of, ‘I will enter Your House with burnt offerings’.
Applying this to friendships, what this means is that if your primary goal when you turn to a particular friend is almost always to burden them with your troubles, or alternatively, to chastise them about mistakes and misjudgments that you think that they are making, then you will likely find that they develop an aversion to your visits, calls, and messages.
Of course, this does not mean that friendships should be rooted in, or be expressive of, toxic positivity. This is because not everything in life is festive and joyous! Still, while friends must be there for us when we are down, their task is also to lift us up when the time is right.
Ultimately, healthy friendships are a matter of balance. Too much of one and your friend can ‘become fed up with you and come to hate you’, while too much of the other and you have created a fictional and toxically positive world where you are not being a real or authentic friend. Figuring out the right balance requires wisdom, and specifically, the wisdom we have within ourselves, as well as the wisdom that we receive from our friends.
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