They sound different but, once you taste it, you know that the potato is a potahto and the tomato is a tomahto.
In Hebrew there are no vowels, so the root consonants of the word can be the same for two different words, which can sound different but still have the same basic meaning. For instance, Joshua and Yeshua have the same letters, and both mean (essentially) the same thing: salvation of God. In one case, it is the name of the person and in the other case, it is more than a name- it is His calling and reason for His existence in human form.
There are two other words I am thinking of: Tzedakah and Mitzvah.
Tzedakah is charity and a mitzvah is a good deed (righteous act.) To give to the poor is to practice Tzedakah, and to help an elderly person across the street is a mitzvah.
The root letters of these words also are in the words Tzaddik and Mitzvot, which mean (respectively) a righteous person and a commandment.
The point is obvious (at least, to me it is, but then again I am the writer, ain’t I?): righteous people do righteous acts and obeying the commandments is performing good deeds or (more biblically phrased) producing good fruit.
If you want to be a righteous person, do righteous acts, and when you obey God’s mitzvot (commandments) then you will be doing good deeds.
For the record? The commandments that we are talking about here are the ones found in the Torah, the mitzvot that God gave to Moses for EVERYONE and ANYONE who claims to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If you think that because you are not Jewish, because you are a Christian that you only have to obey the commandments in the New Covenant, that’s fine. Just know this: every single thing that Jesus (Yeshua) taught and commanded you to do in the New Covenant writings was unaltered and directly from the Torah. There was no other scripture then. In fact, Yeshua is the living Torah, the Word that became flesh, so there was nothing else He could have taught about and nothing else He could have commanded you to obey other than Himself (i.e., the Torah.) There is nothing ‘new’ in the New Covenant; it is simply Yeshua explaining the letter of the law in a spiritual context. He didn’t change it, He never even implied that we should ignore it, He emphatically taught us how to obey by setting the example in the way He lived. He told you (and me) to obey Torah: not just the letter of the Torah, but the spirit of it.
When I was in sales I learned a valuable lesson about humanity (you’ve probably heard me say this over and over already, so ….here it is, again!):
People don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do.
When you do something that is in obedience to God’s commandments, you are not just doing a mitzvah, you are becoming more of a Tzaddik (righteous person). You can’t really be one without the other, can you? Because people mean what they do, a righteous person does what is right, and what is right is to do a mitzvah, which is done by obeying the mitzvot God gave us.
In the Gospels (B’rit Chadashah) we read of a young man who came to Yeshua (Jesus) and said, “Good Rabbi, what must I do to have eternal life?” He answered by telling the young man that the only thing or person that is good is God. We can do good deeds but we, as humans, can’t really be good, ourselves. However, we can be better!
Do good things and you will become better, better in God’s eyes, better in everyone else’s eyes, better in your own eyes. And doing good things, doing mitzvot, will also help you develop into a Tzaddik.
The whole lesson for today is one we have all heard, over and over, but it never loses it’s importance: don’t just talk the talk, you must walk the walk.
We are what we do, so obey the Mitzvot and become a Tzaddik!