Question: Where does the Torah tell us that good friends are hard to find and are very valuable?
Answer: The statement “A friend can be acquired only with great difficulty” is found in the Midrash (Sifrei on Nitzavim; Yalkut Shimoni on Pinchas). Apparently the advice “Acquire a friend for yourself” in Mishnah Avos 1:6 (“acquire”, not “find”) implies that friends are hard to find. Many sources in the Bible and Talmud emphasize the contrast between good friends and bad friends (e.g., Mishlei 18:24; Ben Sira 6:14; Avos 2:9). In Burton Stevenson’s Home Book of Quotations, Laertius’ “Anarcharsis” (Sec.105) is cited for the statement “It is better to have one friend of great value than many friends who are good for nothing”; there doesn’t seem to be a similar statement in the Jewish sources.
Rabbi Azriel Schreiber