Photo Credit: Rebbetzin Feige Twerski

Title: The Future of Friendship
By Rebbetzin Feige Twerski
Published by Mosaica Press, 162 pages

 

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Every rebbetzin works with her fair share of shul members seeking pastoral advice and Torah guidance. Rebbetzin Feige Twerski, the wife of noted community leader Rabbi Michel Twerski of Milwaukee, is no ordinary community rebbetzin. Going beyond the usual call of duty, Rebbetzin Twerski, a noted Torah lecturer and counselor in her own right, uses her considerable talents to bring spiritual sustenance to krovim and rechokim in Wisconsin and beyond.

The Future of Friendship is a valuable read about the contemporary state of interpersonal relationships. It is based on Rebbetzin Twerski’s column in Ami, which makes it read less like a book and more as a collection of essays. Since the chapters do not build off each other and are grouped around themes such as “permanence” and “mindfulness,” the reader can to skip around at his or her leisure. This is a useful feature for the book’s intended audience of women (and men) who are busy with their families, jobs, friends, and chesed obligations. It also makes the book easily digestible, giving the reader space to really think about the content and how to integrate the messages of each essay into his or her life.

Although the title implies that this book is exclusively about friendship, it analyzes interpersonal relationships writ large. Rebbetzin Twerski does spend many pages considering the dynamics between friends, but she also includes chapters and anecdotes with more of a focus on the relationship between parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, husband and wife, siblings, and more. The book also explores the relationship between a Jew and Hashem, and considers how strengthening our connection to Hakadosh Baruch Hu can positively impact the way we interact with our fellows. At its core, this is a book about how we can best endeavor to live out the mitzvah and Jewish value of v’ahavta l’rayecha kamocha, and how, in so doing, we can support others’ spiritual growth while growing ourselves.

In each chapter, Rebbetzin Twerski seamlessly weaves in pesukim, maamrei Chazal, and Chassidic thought alongside scientific and psychological studies to illustrate her points. The personal stories that she brings in – including accounts of her illustrious parents and parents-in-law, husband, children and grandchildren, friends, and people she has counseled – are particularly resonant, revealing a personal element to the work she does and how that informs her perspectives. As a thinker who is both intellectual and empathetic, she is able to explain her ideas in a way that will touch readers whether they primarily relate to others through their minds or with their hearts.

She concludes the book with the idea of that “all B’nei Yisrael are fundamentally and inextricably linked as one person, with one heart.” Perhaps because of this inherent connection to one another, maintaining personal relationships is no easy task, but is endlessly rewarding when done right. The Future of Friendship provides a religious take on the power of relationship and also serves as a helpful guidebook for how to create and improve our relationships in a mutually beneficial way.

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