Sunday, July 14, 2013

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The Best Way to Hurt Yourself

by Reb Gutman


     We see quite a few young baal teshuvas (newly religious) men leave their homes in America, and come to Jerusalem to learn in a yeshiva for a while. Some stay for a few weeks, some even a few years. Most often, at some point they decide to return to their homes to continue with their college studies, or with their careers. They usually ask the same question, “What can I do so I do not lose what I have learned here?” Obviously, they are referring to their new lifestyles.

     I tell them, “If you go back to the same friends that you had before you came here, you will go back to being like you were before you came here.”

     There was a recent internet article that listed the ten things that people most often do that hurt themselves. At the top of the list was, “Choosing the wrong friends.” We are influenced more by our friends than by our teachers! Choosing our friends is like choosing our direction in life.

     Of all things that King David could have written to open his wondrous book of spiritual prayers and teachings, (the book of Psalms)[i] he began by praising the man who does not sit with scorners. So strong is their sway.

     The Lubavitcher Rebbe often told his Chassidim, “Either you are going to influence the people around you, or they are going to influence you.”

     So, which friends are the best? The ones who are better at doing what you want to do with your life. Hang out with them so you can learn how they do it.

[i] Psalms 1:1


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