וְהַרְחִיקֵֽנוּ מֵאָדָם רָע וּמֵחָבֵר רָע
Keep us away from malicious tongues and fawning friends
Many of us, and especially those who have made a commitment to following a spiritual path within community, are aware of the need for a balanced regimen of love and reproof from our companions. Without it, focus becomes blurred, alignments are bent crooked, and self-deception reigns unchecked.
Such love and reproof are not free-form activities, but Torah-sanctioned instructions whose fulfillment is informed by subtle rules, by courtesy and by respect. Rebuke, no matter how precise, is rarely heeded if its source is not trustworthy; deserved praise that becomes fulsome may sink into flattery, surely one of the more mischievous potions that humanity has ever concocted.
Help us, H’, to keep good company.