Combating the Virus – A 10 Point Regiment for Wellness

The world in Quarantine. So many questions. Why? What is this all about? Is it a message from G-d? What can we do? Where can I find clarity?

Finding clarity will help you push away the non-essential and focus on the important.

Finding Clarity

The First thing a person should do to find clarity – is to pray to Hash-m / G-d to help you find clarity. We receive mixed messages – what we think is good  may be the opposite and vice versa. What we are told to avoid may be beneficial and vice versa. Where can we find truth?

Hash-m Wants us to Improve Our ways

Hash-m / the G-d of the Jews is Truth. If you want to find truth – pray to Him to help you find truth. G-d is obviously sending us a message to improve our ways – to become better people.

Most people want to become better. Self-help books are the best sellers in many bookstores.

A Simple Starting Point

So where to start? A simple place to start is the 7 or 10 commandments. For Non-Jews – G-d gave 7 Noahide laws for all people. – which by following them will allow a gentile to receive a place in heaven. To the Jews He gave 10 commandments – that are the basis of our 613 commandments – that allow a Jew a place in Heaven. For a Jew it is good to start observing the Shabbat. Also it is good to avoid speaking Lashon HaRa / Negative Speech about others.

Seek Truth

That is the Starting point of the regiment is to Seek truth. One of the things that the quarantine has accomplished – is to help people put priorities into perspective. If G-d wants us to improve – he will help people who are sincerely seeking to better themselves survive.

Thus reading Jewish self-improvement works – like Pirkei Avot, avoiding speaking badly about others, avoiding negativity are all recommended.

The Regiment

  1. Turn to Hash-m and try to improve a bit every day according to what He wants from us as it is stated in the Torah
  2. Pray to Hash-m for good Health for You and others. We learned in the daf Yomi Gemara Shabbat* (32a) recently that it is more productive to pray for continued good health than to pray for Refuah / a person to be healed after the fact. Pray to Hashem for the continued well-being of those healthy and for the Refuah shelema for those in need.
  3. Stay positive – by working on your Emuna (Faith) & Bitachon (Belief) in Hash-m – an excellent series is by Rabbi David Ashear – It’s called Living Emuna. It is published By Artscroll Publishers.
  4. Stay Strong by eating meals with bread (Now – during Pesach / Passover – eat Matza) especially in the Morning. Eat hot meals and healthy meals.
  5. Stay fit by doing exercise in the house.
  6. Read & Learn Mussar – Jewish Self improvement works- like Mesilat Yesharim, Shaarei Teshuva,
  7. Do positive activities that will keep you positive – There are many Jewish websites that will help you keep positive in these days of darkness. Think positive. Think it will be good and it will be good.
  8. Try to remove negativity from your heart. Forgive others. Call the person that you might have had a tiff with. Make peace. Let go of grudges, hatred, fear and sadness.
  9. Get enough Rest – Go to sleep on time. Get 8 hours of rest. A strong body resists viruses more than a weak one.
  10. Work on the Spiritual & Physical actions to make you less susceptible to ailments.Just like in the original Pesach Hashem brought the redemption of the Jewish people, May He, in this Pesach, bring our nation’s, our personal and our loved ones redemption from all of our concerns.

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  • In a similar vein, Rav Yitzḥak, son of Rav Yehuda, said: A person should always pray that he will not become ill, as if he becomes ill they say to him: Bring proof of your virtue and exempt yourself. It is preferable for a person not to be forced to prove that he merits staying alive, as he might not be able to prove it. Mar Ukva said: What is the verse that alludes to this? As it says: “When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you bring not blood upon your house, if the fallen falls mimenu (Deuteronomy 22:8). He explains: Mimenu, from him proof must be brought. When one falls from his previous situation, it is his own responsibility to prove his innocence and emerge unharmed. (Talmud: Shabbat 32a)

Grabbing the Light of Hanuka

Candles lit for the eighth night of Hanukkah

Chanuka is great!

What a message! In the darkest of times there is light. Light that starts with the spark of a match. It turns to a flame. The flame lights one light. Then two candles. Until the whole menora is lit.

We experience light and dark every day. Our vision of darkness depends on our faith. Our faith in G-d / Hash-m. There are two aspects 1) believing in a good G-d. (Bitachon) And 2) believing that the Good G-d is doing good for me personally. (Emunah)

This is the light of Chanuka – seeing the light at all times – even when things seem bleak.

Keep Hanukkah in Your Pocket

During Hanuka – we see the light before us. After it is over – we say goodbye till next year. But don’t say goodbye. Take some Chanukah in your pocket. Take some hope. Take the message and keep it in front of you.

It is interesting that Hanuka falls usually during the Parasha / Weekly Torah reading of Miketz. Yosef / Joseph is in the dungeon in Egypt for a crime he did not commit. It has been twelve years since he was thrown in. His family turned against him. He is alone.

His only anchor from being lost in the sea of despair is his faith in G-d / Hash-m.

This suffering – however – transforms him into a new person. Before – he was chattering about the bad his brothers were doing. He was boasting about his dreams of rising to greatness. It was all about “Me”.

In the dungeon he starts seeing the pain of others. Through introspection and repentance he transforms himself into a caring person. By becoming a giver he rises to great heights. Soon after he notices the pain of others he is released. He becomes the viceroy of Egypt. “Hu HaShalit, Hu HaMashbir” He is the ruler – he is the provider. When a person becomes a giver, he or she rises to higher heights.

The Redemption depends upon you

Miketz starts with the verse : “And BEHOLD it was the end of two years [after Yosef interepreted the cupbearer’s dream] and Pharaoh is dreaming” We would expect the Pasuk to say “dreamed” instead of “is dreaming.”

In the 10th year in prison Yosef was supposed to be released and become the viceroy of Egypt. Since he was not ready [he lacked a tiny bit of emuna – faith in Hashem] he stayed 2 more years in prison.

Pharaoh kept dreaming the same dream for 2 years. When Yosef worked on his emuna and bitachon he was redeemed from prison immediately. At times we are supposed to receive good, but are lacking in our emuna or biachon. Improving our bitachon, will help us receive the good destined for us.*

There are three aspects to solving any problem – Prayer, Action and Belief.

The redemption is waiting for us. We must make that little effort to believe in ourselves and believe G-d is doing everything for our good.

The Greeks wanted to remove us from observing Torah learning, Shabbat, Sanctifying the New Month and Circumcision. In essence – they were telling us – you get what ou see. It is only a physical world. We are physical beings. They wanted us to remove Spirituality, believing in Divine Providence and having a relationship with G-d.

The Jews taught the world that there is hope. That G-d is here and to put G-d back into the daily lives of each one of us.

Believe and you will receive.

Feeling Down – Do Some Laundry

Feeling down? I read a book about a person who was bordering on depression. He tried to find ways to make himself laugh. A possible solution.

Another solution – Do something to help someone else. Help an old lady do grocery shopping. Put a quarter in a meter of a car that ran out of parking time. Do or fold the family’s laundry.

Sadness comes from the soul. If the soul feels it is not accomplishing – a person feels sad.

Thus – if you feel bad – make your soul happy. Do a Mitzvah. Do a good deed. Listen to Jewish music. Separate from the things that make a soul sad. Learn some Torah. Continue for it a week or so. A good start to get out of the blues.

 

Improving Your Dating Resume and Should a Matched Date be Picture-less

Jewish Orthodox singles have the dating process down pat.

Firstly – the reason they date is to find a suitable marriage partner. That is their main goal. This allows for more focused dating. It’s not a matter of courting – like in the general society – but a matter of searching for real answers to questions that you are searching for in a marriage partner. Are they reliable, can they provide for a family, are they mentally stable, do they have Torah values, etc.

This is much different than today’s society. In society – they court the person and then find out if they are a suitable mate for marriage. In Torah Judaism we first determine if they are a suitable mate for marriage – then once all the requirements or preferences fall into place – then it sets up a foundation that the marriage will last. Once common points are found – it is easier for the marriage to last. Similar goals, similar backgrounds, similar mentalities, similar Jewish outlook, similar values make for a better chance of a solid marriage.

We search for a mate that has the criteria we are looking for – Learning Torah all Day or Part time, Open minded, From a particular cultural background, that is a growing individual, that has a good Hashkafa / Jewish Outlook  – the list goes on. So we ask around – friends, rabbis, acquaintances and/or Shachanim / Matchmakers – to find prospects with these critera.

Once a person sounds in the ballpark -the “matchmaker” or intermediary asks both parties if they are interested in exchanging resumes. If yes, they exchange dating resumes.

It is good to have a good intermediary – because they can help make or break the potential couple’s success.

A dating resume is similar to a career resume – it lists schools, employment, goals and references with phone numbers. It also lists siblings & Members of family and to whom they are married or what they are doing in the present.

Should You Include a Picture?

Several points are up to discussion. Should the matchmaker include a picture to send to the potential dating prospect? I am of the opinion that one should not include a picture. A picture tells 1000 words. But it doesn’t necessarily tell the complete picture. Pictures may put a person in a negative light. The portrait may be old or of the person on a bad hair day or in a bad mood or before he or she got braces to straighten their teeth. So I feel if the person is in the ballpark – it is good to give a date a try.

Obviously this is after all the references were called, the pointed questions were asked to references and non-references – like What good character traits / Middot does the person have? What problems or issues does the person have? How is their temper? Can you give me a particular incident or situation that can give me a clearer picture of who this person is? Can you describe their Yireat Shamayim / Fear of Hash-m? their Chesed? Better to ask open questions than for yes or no answers.

Caveats for Your Own Bio or Resume or Self

Know your audience that you are trying to attract – is one of the most important points in making a resume. A woman wants an appealing man and vice versa. It is a Torah recommendation that a person not get married without seeing their mate. This means a person should not get married without seeing their mate. It does not mean they should see a picture before they go out on a date.

If one is including a picture – it should show the person in the best light. With a kind, positive smile. A picture that brings out their positive points. If they have crooked teeth – it might be better to close their mouth or get braces. If they are a bit too casual – perhaps they should consider wearing more elegant or conservative attire – especially on a date. One should look good at every moment – meaning they shouldn’t walk around with a ring of keys on their belt or with their shirts unbuttoned or with spots on their clothes.

You resume should put you in a positive light. It might be good to be romantic – but to include “I am Romantic” on a resume may turn people off – especially if the other person is looking for a Ben Torah / a Torah Learner.

It is good to inform others of your family’s occupations, but some occupations may turn other people off. Not because they look down on the occupation – but because they think what you put as a positive point may be negative in their eyes. An example – Someone put on their resume – My Brother is a Sharp-Shooter for the Israeli Army. It is commendable to be defending your country. But to go into detail that his brother targets people might turn others off.

Get a Dating Resume Critique from a person who has Daat Torah – like a dating Coach that is a Ben Torah. Show your resume to a good friend to see if they have any recommendations for improvement.

Your Acts Generate Attitudes Towards You

People are on the lookout for deficiencies. Although that might not be the best attitude – it is an attitude out there. So if they see you eating a Felafel walking down the street with a beer in your hand – that will most likely portray a certain attitude.

Look at the Entire Picture

No one is perfect – Except Hash-m – so expect that there may be things about a date prospect that may not please you . Perhaps they are a bit heavy – people can lose weight. They have spaces in their teeth – a person can get braces. Know what is a primary requirement and secondary priority. See what can be changed and what is hard wired. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Evaluate the entire person – not just the things that you find unfavourable. Look at the good in others – it’s a positive trait for life.

Texting & Misunderstanding – How to Avoid It

Once Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi invited his students for a Meal. He served Tongue – a delicacy. The students served themselves the softest pieces of tongue. He remarked “You should learn from your actions. Just like you selected the softest pieces of tongue – when talking select the softest words.”

Almost all things can be said in a nice way or the opposite. Choosing the right time, the right place, the right atmosphere, and the right tone of voice will help the message to pass.

A person wrote a letter to his father. “Dear Father. It is cold and I’m hungry. Please send money!”  His father asked a person to read him the letter. The man read it in a rough tone of voice. His father said – that’s the way he speaks to me?! – I’m not sending anything. A while passed. His wife came into the room. He asked her to read the letter. She read it in a soft tome of voice. He said “If that’s how he is talking I’ll send him some money.”

When texting a person doesn’t hear or see the other’s expressions. So texts can cause escalating tensions. It happened to me more than one. So I picked up the phone and talked directly to the person – with the intention of dissipating the apparent tension. We left off on good terms.

In talking – remember to think of what you will say and the tone of voice before you talk.

 

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Card Talk: [This section tells you which materials jerusalemlife.com offers that can help you with the above concern]

The Good Card – Attributes Good for a Person to Adapt – from R. Zelig Pliskin
The Good Speech Card – 7 Conditions of Speaking Properly
Long Life / Guard Your Tongue Card  – The A Prayer for speaking Properly

You’ll Get Over It – So Get Over It Quicker

A person needs time to cope. Something good or the opposite happens to him or her, it takes time to adjust to that change. People like to feel safe. They want an unchanging world.

One might steer clear of Judaism at times for that reason. Because they are reluctactant to adhere to the change that Judaism may impose on their lives. People accept atheism for that same reason – it is easier to stick to one’s antiquated ways than to accept a G-d that will require them to adhere to a set of laws – namely the Torah.

At times it is good to resist change – like when one has particular Minhagim – Jewish customs of their fathers. At times the Torah requires change – as when one must improve their character traits to become a better person. The Torah is the ultimate guide to Self-Help & Self-Improvement.

Likewise their are standard times specified for a person to cope. Like if a person just gets married – he or she has seven days to be surrounded by family and friends after the Hupah – Jewish wedding ceremony. This is called the Sheva Berachot – where for 7 days the newly wed couple celebrates their marriage at meals offered by friends and family. . Another standard time to cope is if a person, G-d forbid, is in mourning. They have seven days where friends and family visit them. In a sense – Shabbat – the Jewish Sabbath is a day to unwind and release negativity and rest from the slights of the week.

But some need more time to adjust emotionally to a situation. If a co-worker, a boss or a spouse insults or embarrasses a person, it will take time to calm down. It will depend on the person, the situation, the attitude of the victim. If that same person did something more minor – like interrupted you – the coping time is less. But apparently you are in control of your reaction. You are in control of your coping. You can choose to get over it quickly or let it linger.

The Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers says it in several places :

In Chapter 2 Mishna 10. They said three things: Rabbi Elie’zer says: Let the honor of your friend be as dear to you as your own & do not be easily angered & return [in repentance] one day before your death.

 

In Chapter 4 Mishna 1: Who is the strong person? One who conquers his [evil] inclination – as it states “Better is one who is long to anger than the mighty & one who conquers his will than one who conquers a city” (Mishle / Proverbs 16:32)

 

In Chapter 5 Mishna 11: There are four measures in temperaments: One who is easy to anger & easy to calm – his gain goes out with his loss. Someone who is difficult to anger & difficult to appease – his loss goes out with his gain. Difficult to anger & easy to appease is pious; easy to anger & difficult to calm is wicked.

All these statements point to the fact that one is in control of their temperament. You choose to get angry. You choose to calm down and how long it will take you. It takes time to change one’s temperament – but it can be done. (How? – that’s another post we’ll have to write.)

One way to calm down is to think – “Eventually I’ll get over this unpleasant situation. I might as well get over it sooner than later. Let me go of my anger today.” You’ll be better for it. You’ll feel better for it if you expedite your calming down process.

There was once a Rabbi – that remained calm in worrisome situations. Someone asked him how can you not worry in these situations. He replied “I really do worry. But I worry quickly.”

Worrying about the past present or future may be normal, but unproductive. The past has already passed. The future you never know what will happen. And the present passes in the blink of an eye.

Don’t worry – be happy.

 

Let’s Call a Spade a Spade – Don’t Call a Child “It”

Boys will be boys. Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice – that’s what Girls are made of.

The School of Political Correctness

Time to burn your Mother Goose books. Sorry did I say Mother Goose? “Mother” discriminates against the father. I mean Parent Goose.

No “parent” is also derogatory – just because they are older and gave birth to you should we discriminate against children and call them by this name? Let’s call them “adult caretakers”. No. “Adult” is discriminating against children. They should be equals. Let’s call them “older humans”. No that is discriminating. Why should we discriminate against the young. Let’s call them “big humans”. No that is discrimination because you discriminate against the small humans. Let’s call them just “humans”. No that is discriminating against animals. Lets just call humans and animals “it.”

Now that is a solution. Don’t call a president “president”. That is discriminating against those below him. You dare to call a person a principal? How dare you! That means that teachers are inferior. “Teacher?” – what an insult to the students. Please be politically correct. Just call everybody “it” and it will all be fine. “You”? that is discriminating against me. A Manhole? What kind of racism is that – call it a sewer hole. Sewer is a derogatory term – you are insulting the hole. Call it a cleaner thing. The ithole. Now you’re talking.

Manhattan? Let’s be correct and call it ithatten. That’s better. Manchester. Itchester. One small step for man one large leap for Mankind. Please edit that. One small step for it one large leap for itkind.

Parent teacher conference? Sorry. The It It conference. PTA? IIA! “The principal wants to meet with parents and teachers of children who have animals.” G-d forbid. “It wants to meet with its and its of its who have its.” Much better.

I hope you get the point.

Some people want to eliminate the terms “boy” and “girl”, “man” and “woman” – because it might be offensive to others and make them feel uncomfortable. It unlikely might insult this tremendously small part of the population.

Insulting the Many not to insult the minority

What bigger insult than calling a person made in G-d’s image “it”? So should we insult 99.999% of the population – to possibly not insult .001%. Sorry my friend. Doesn’t make sense to me.

But let’s put that point aside.

Calling People Neutral Names Lessens appreciation for others

Calling everybody by a non-gender or a neutral terminology will make people be less appreciated. If I call a principal “it” – it reduces my appreciation for all the work he or she went through to reach this position. If I call a parent “it” – it reduces my appreciation for all the toil they went through to bring up their children. If I call a teacher “it” – it reduces my appreciation for the hard work and sweat and dedication to the students.

If I call a girl or a “pink” an “it” – it reduces my appreciation for her unique qualities and her strengths. If I call a boy “it” or a “blue” – it reduces my appreciation for his unique qualities and his strengths. Calling a person an “it” – equates a person to an object. Women don’t like to be treated as objects. Rightfully so. Why Should children be treated as such?

Judaism says call everyone by their name. Don’t call them nicknames – that may be derogatory and make people feel uncomfortable. Act with Respect towards everyone. Appreciate them as a person. Appreciate their strengths. Be tolerant towards their differences. Call a Boy a Boy and appreciate them. Call a girl a girl and appreciate their uniqueness. Make them feel good by you validating them as a person. Don’t treat them as an object.

Decadence Masquerading as Political Correctness

Many years ago – our forefather Abraham – ridiculed idol worship. People would sacrifice children because they treated their children as objects to satisfy their lust for idolatry. Children should not be sacrificed today – for decadence masquerading as  “political correctness.”

Save Your Children. Appreciate them for who they are.

The Missed Opportunity – Why You Should Throw Your Phone Out the Window & Other Tech Junk While You’re at it

You’re at the dinner table. Your kid is there munching some cake. “Got to check my whatsapp for two minutes”. The kid finishes eating and walks away. You lift your head from the phone. “Where is he?”

You lost. You lost the opportunity to connect with one of the most important people in your life – your child. Why? For some video that someone with nothing to do sent you. Worth it?

Just Once? Not.

More than Once? Of Course Not.

When Values Backfire or Will Your Children Give You Grandchildren?

In Math class the top student was always first to answer the teacher’s math problems. No one could come close to his quickness in answering the questions. One friend asked him – “How did you become so smart – that you know the answers so quickly?” He replied “Simple – every day I come early to Math Class. I know the teacher will ask questions from the Math Textbook. I look up the answers in our teacher’s Teacher’s edition textbook and I repeat them in class.”

How to win Debates

I usually win ethical and philosophical debates.

Not necessarily because of my debating skills – but because I know which side of the argument to choose. I usually choose the Torah views. Thus I win the argument because I know that the Torah views are the views of G-d. He “thought out” the arguments already – I just have to provide reasons why G-d holds this way. I am like the student that looks up the answer in the Teacher’s Edition textbook.

The Torah is Hash-m’s / G-d’s guidebook. Eventually by choosing Torah views – if you think them out enough you will find out that these are most proper long-term values.

Torah – the Source of Tolerance

The Torah is the source of Tolerance in the world. Recently in last week’s parasha / Torah reading we learn that an evil gentile prophet – Bilaam is hired by King Balak to curse [sonai] Israel. He rides on a donkey. The Donkey veers off the path, crushes his foot into a wall and then stops at a narrow passageway.

Bilaam hits the donkey and the donkey starts to talk.

The ass said to Balaam, “Look, I am the ass that you have been riding all along until this day! Have I been in the habit of doing thus to you?” And he answered, “No.” [Bamidbar / Numbers 22:30]

After the conversation – where Bilaam couldn’t respond to his donkey – G-d sends an Angel to kill it. Why? So that people will not mock Bilaam saying “Look there is the donkey that Bilaam could not answer.” The obvious question is why? He was wicked – don’t we have the right to disrespect him?

The answer – no matter how wicked a person may be – we must act respectfully. That is called Tolerance.

This teaches regardless of how wicked a person is, we must act as we would respect another human being. In the end a person was created in the image of G-d. Pharaoh bathed in the blood of Jewish children, yet Moshe / Moses acted with the utmost respect towards him – as he would a normal king.

Respecting the honor of a person does not mean we must accept his or her values. This does not mean that we have to condone his actions. This does not mean that we have to accept his or her values.

In the case of a thief caught steeling old ladies purses – we must act with respect towards the thief but nevertheless bring them to justice. To condone the act of thievery would be called decadence.

It is popular today to adopt the values of other people because you don’t want to be racist. But this is the exact definition of decadence.

The Difference between Tolerance and  Decadence

Decadence is moral or cultural decline as characterized by excessive indulgence in pleasure or luxury. (as defined by google). The key word is decline.

Tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

What society describes as tolerance – for example, as in the case of same gender marriage – is actually decadence. The society passes off decadence as tolerance. It is doing a very good job because many people fall into the trap. Tolerance is not decadence and vice versa.

What’s Wrong with Accepting the Lifestyle of Immorality

The parents who say they accept same gender marriage – end up at times with children who pursue a same gender relationship. Because of this – their children do not have children. Their values with which they raised their children turn against them. They end up with no grandchildren because their children pursued the values – ie, same gender marriage – that the parents condoned.

Thus one must choose their values wisely. One who raises children with Torah values – their children realize the importance to get married, raise a family, help society, live peacefully, do good to others, raise children and live a wholesome life. They pursue a life of positive relations with G-d, Family, Society, Friends and themselves.

TGIM – Thank G-d It’s Monday – Why You Feel Good to Go to Work

Why are people basically happy to work?

Anthropologists study and theorize. Difficult to believe that 1) we evolved from an amoeba and now because of 2) survival of the fittest we want to work. Both theories leave much to be desired. Theory 1 is utterly illogical. Theory 2 is leaves much to be desired. I would think the fittest would want to rest after all these years. 🙂

The Torah tells it like it is.

The Torah says that G-d created the world. He implanted in each human a soul. This soul wants to do the will of G-d. But He also created a force inside a person that offers advice to follow temptation rather than reason. How do you know the difference? Study your respective commandments.

There is a commandment for all people in the world. To build the world (Lishuvu Shel Olam / הדינין לישובו של עולם) It is Part of the 30 commandments for all humanity of the 7 Major categories of laws for Gentiles – called the 7 Noahide Laws of the Torah.

Going to work builds the world. Thus a person who works gets a mitzvah.

When a person does a Mitzvah / commandment from the Torah – they feel satisfied inside. They satisfy their soul.

That’s why you feel good when you work.

What’s the proof?

Abraham Herzberg’s Theory of motivation.

He said at work there are Motivators and Hygiene factors.

The Motivators – Motivate people to work. With them present people are satisfied and motivated.

The Hygiene factors – if not present – a person may be dissatisfied. But if they are present it will not increase the satisfaction of the work.

Motivators or Job Factors include
Achievement
Recognition
Work itself
Responsibility
Advancement
Growth

Hygiene Factors include
Company policy and administration
Supervision
Relationship with supervisor
Work conditions
Salary
Relationship with peers
Personal life
Relationship with subordinates
Status
Security

With accomplishment at work one builds the world. With the work itself one builds the world. Thus a person is satisfied because he is doing a mitzvah.

A gentile observes 7 Noahide laws from the Torah. A Jew observes the 613 commandments from the Torah.

Each observing their respective commandments, gain satisfaction.

TGIM.