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Significance of Chai in Judaism

The religion of Jews, Judaism is dense in cultural as well as traditional values. Just like with other religions, several symbols are associated with Judaism. Out of all, Star of David happens to be the most common and very popularly known by the Jews and non-Jews. Another symbol that is very commonly known in the religion is the ‘Chai’, the Hebrew translation of which is life. In Judaism, the word Chai has both numerical and symbolic meaning. Spelled with the Hebrew letters Chet and Yud, the word ‘Chai’ signifies life.

Every religion has given a sacred importance to life, but Judaism has placed life as the priority and has laid emphasis on its significance. The Jews are always guided to live a good, and a fulfilling life spreading happiness all around and making the best use of their short period on Earth. The symbol is thus used in Jewish jewelry like a ring or necklace along with the Star of David or Hamsa. Here, we shall review the importance of this symbol in the Jewish religion.

The Numerical Significance of Chai

In Judaism, the word ‘chai’ has a numeric importance as well. According to Gematria, which is a tradition assigning numerical values to Hebrew letters, the word ‘chai’  is composed of two alphabets, Chet (ח), which is the tenth letter, and Yud (י), which is the eighth. When added, they result into numeric value 18 and this is why the number 18 is given a great importance amongst the Jews. It speaks of life and represents good luck. Whenever it comes to gifting a cash on Jewish weddings or Bar Mitzvahs or even when giving monetary donations, it is always done in multiples of 18. The Amidah that is very commonly called as “Shmoneh Esreh” in Jewish culture translates to the number eighteen and refer to the 18 prayers individually. The number 18, ‘Chai’, and the numerical value of the individual Hebrew letters that compose the word are deeply connected to the individual life of a Jew.

The Symbolic Meaning of Chai

As referred earlier, the Jewish tradition and culture have a special place that brings attention to the importance of life. Therefore, the literal translation of ‘Chai’ to life clearly defines its significance. Moreover, a person who is a Jew or is identified with Judaism is generally educated and governed to abide by the basic principles of kindness, selflessness, thoughtfulness, and ways to remain humble during their little time on Earth called life. Whenever presenting gifts to an individual on celebrating different occasions, or in the event of honoring him or her, or even on an occasion of remembrance of loved ones, ‘Giving Chai’ is considered to be the best gift that one can give or receive. The symbol of ‘Chai is very common in Jewish jewelry. However, there are many other items that are adorned with the symbol of life. These include just about everything from t-shirts to mugs to Jewish garments like tallits (prayer shawls).