Vadim Botnari, born in Moldova to a Christian Orthodox family, studied economic relations and became a successful hi-tech product manager in Vilnius, Lithuania, specializing in mobile apps. Only one problem: By age 30 he’d been through a cycle of failed romantic relationships. Deep, thoughtful, sincere – and eager to start a family – Vadim began searching for nuggets of wisdom to guide him to the Right One.

Vadim suspected that the answer would have spiritual roots, yet he was disenchanted with his native Christianity. And the practices popular among his friends – yoga, Ayurveda, and other Eastern philosophies – struck him as “vague and abstract that led nowhere. I needed a more practical, concrete approach.”

One evening in front of the computer, Vadim thought: The Jewish people have disproportionate success in many areas of life – science, music, finance, and spirituality. Despite numerous exiles and persecutions, Jews have always managed to not only survive as a nation, but to be a driving force in the world.

Thinking this special nation might have insights into relationships, Vadim googled “the Jewish view of love.” He landed on the article, What Is Love? by life coach and dating mentor Gila Manolson. Vadim read:

What is love – real, lasting love? Love is the attachment that results from deeply appreciating another's goodness. The word "goodness" may surprise you. After all, most love stories don't feature a couple enraptured with each other's ethics. ("I'm captivated by your values!" he told her passionately. "And I've never met a man with such morals!" she cooed…)

Nice looks, an engaging personality, intelligence, and talent (all of which count for something) may attract you, but goodness is what moves you to love.

If love comes from appreciating goodness, it needn't just happen – you can make it happen. Love is active. You can create it. Just focus on the good in another person (and everyone has some). If you can do this easily, you'll love easily.

“I thought wow – this makes rational sense!” Vadim tells from his home in Vilnius. “Here were clear principles for success: the definition of love as focusing on another’s virtues; that love is not something you fall into, but something you choose to create; and how love grows through giving to one another. This was what I was looking for – concrete insights into daily life issues.”

Vadim dug deeper into and landed on Rabbi Noah Weinberg’s classic series, 48 Ways to Wisdom. He was so impressed that he printed out the entire series, booked an Airbnb, and took a one-week vacation to do nothing but study 48 Ways. “I even brought a notebook and did all the exercises that each article suggests,” Vadim says.

The No-Touch Rule

Meanwhile, Vadim contacted Gila Manolson and ordered her book, Head to Heart. (She has since released a version for general audiences, Hands Off!) It was there that he encountered a radical new idea that would change his life forever. Gila writes:

The sexual revolution left the world with a variety of sociological effects… The Jewish approach to dating is in part designed to reduce the likelihood of people investing themselves emotionally in doomed relationships…

One way to avoid getting badly hurt is to not allow yourself to bond with another person before it is safe to do so. Reserving physical closeness for the security of a permanent relationship helps safeguard your happiness – and your future.

Gila goes on to describe “Shomer Negiah,” the Torah concept of no sexual contact prior to marriage, as a way to maintain objectivity and not be distracted by chemistry and hormones. So when Vadim met Monika in February 2019, he decided to give the Torah approach a try.

When Vadim suggested the No-Touch Rule, Monika agreed

A pharmacist by training, Monika was raised in a secular family with no connection to religion. After enduring a succession of unfaithful men, she yearned for a positive, trusting perspective on life and relationships. So when Vadim suggested the No-Touch Rule, Monika agreed.

With this approach, Vadim and Monika spent endless hours talking about goals, values, and family background. Things moved quickly and five months later, Vadim and Monika were married.

Lifelong Search

As Vadim and Monika began building a home together, they sought the key to a solid spiritual foundation.

“Although growing up I had little religion, since my teenage years I would talk to God every night before going to sleep,” Vadim says. He believed in the Trinity and would make a cross after every prayer. Yet as he matured, he soured on his inherited religion. “Christian Orthodoxy prays to various saints and has many religious icons,” he says. “They’d sometimes bring a holy icon from Jerusalem, saying it has miraculous healing powers. Everyone would crowd around it, trying to touch it and kiss it. From the standpoint of monotheism, this disturbed me.”

I was disturbed by the many religious icons, purported to have miraculous healing powers.

Vadim was drawn back through Judaism. In addition to the intellectual wisdom of Torah, the spiritual elements resonated and he decided to pray to the God of the Jews. He maintained a correspondence with Gila Manolson who introduced him to the Seven Noachide Laws, the Torah’s spiritual-ethical system for all humanity, as outlined in “Noachide guidebooks” such as Path of the Righteous Gentile. Vadim made contact with other Noachides in Lithuania, and now studies in a weekly Torah class given online for Noachides by Rabbi Chaim Goldberg.

“I tried several religions, but none provide the pleasure and strong connection with the Almighty as Judaism,” Vadim says. “My life has improved significantly, and I believe that Torah is truth.”

Vadim has visited Israel several times, both as a tourist and on business. (He is a partner in a travel agency that promotes Baltic tourism to Israel.) Last month, he and Monika flew to Israel for the wedding of Gila Manolson’s son.

“It was an incredible trip,” Vadim says. “On Friday night we prayed at the Western Wall, then had an amazing Shabbat meal with the Machlis family. This was our first Shabbat experience in a Jewish home and it was extremely inspiring how they bring people together to show what Judaism is all about.”

Vadim and Monika punctuated their trip with a declaration of commitment to belief in One God, to accept the authority of Torah, and to uphold the Seven Noachide Laws.

“The more I learn Jewish wisdom, it’s always an eye-opener,” Vadim says. “We’re at the beginning of a journey that is profound and exciting.”