Society has mythologized the sibling relationship with two narratives. The first is of siblings who are best friends, supportive of one another, and devoted. The other storyline is that of siblings whose rivalry burgeons on animosity and even terror. The key to getting past this dichotomy is to know that a blood relationship isn’t always needed to create a sibling relationship.

The book of Genesis is replete with tales of murderous and covetous siblings. Cain killed Abel. Esau threatened to kill Jacob. Joseph’s brothers hurled him into a pit and sold him into slavery. With brothers like these, who needs enemies?

Siblings won’t always get past their differences. Joseph and Esau reconciled but kept their distance. Joseph forgave his brothers, but the relationship remained tentative.

Torah offers very few positive examples of sibling relationships. Even Aaron and Miriam gossip about Moses. However, there are examples of friends who are like siblings. For example, the story of David and Jonathan, who were devoted to each other.

Proverbs do offer some wisdom about friendships.

אִ֣ישׁ רֵ֭עִים לְהִתְרֹעֵ֑עַ וְיֵ֥שׁ אֹ֝הֵ֗ב דָּבֵ֥ק מֵאָֽח׃

“There are companions to keep one company, and there is a friend more devoted than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24. We learn from Proverbs that two kinds of friends exist. The first kind of friend might be a companion but not entirely devoted or reliable. The second kind of friend is faithful and caring, unfailingly. This second category of friend fulfills a sibling role. Sometimes we have friends who are like devoted brothers or sisters.

You can have many companions. However, even one friend who is like a sibling is a great advantage in your life. Sometimes, a genuine or authentic friend is someone who sticks closer than a brother or sister. The friendship is steadfast; he or she will be there for you even more so than a family member. The word brotherhood describes the strongest of relationships. A friend who joins you in brotherhood or sisterhood is a trustworthy friend, indeed. If you are so blessed, give them a call today and let them know how grateful you are.

Rabbi Evan J. Krame