What Is the Meaning of Chai?
The Hebrew word for Life is Chayim. The short version of that is Chai, which is taken from Chayim.
We won't go into breaking up the semantics of the Hebrew language here, but just know that Chai is part of Chayim, which means life.
It's the toast you hear, "L'chayim"
It is the name you've heard, Chayim.
And the symbol you've seen worn as jewelry, a Chai.
The celebration of LIFE.
And it is NOT the Indian spiced tea Chai. Although spelled the same, two totally different things.
Chai, the drink is pronounced Ch like Charlie, and Chai in Hebrew is a more guttural sound like KH, so it is pronounced khai.
The two-letter combination in Hebrew is an extremely popular Jewish symbol and is almost a good luck symbol, an amulet of sorts. Now, you know the Hebrew alphabet is read right to left, whereas in English it is read left to right. So looking at this two-letter combo, just know to look right before left.
The letter on the right is a Chet and the one on the left is a yud.
The numerical value of the two together equals 18.
The yud (left) has a value of 10, and the Chet (right) is an 8 = 18.
That is why you'll often see gifts of monetary value at $18, especially at Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations. Guests will give a 10 x chai, which is 10x18=180 and so on and so forth. You'll see this as monetary donations as well, the chai value of $18.
And chai = life
A blessing for a very long and happy life.
A healthy life.
A life full of good fortune, of blessings.
Thus, you can see how the chai meaning is very significant in Judaism and is an amulet for blessings, an abundance of blessings. So, if you're asking yourself what does Chai Hebrew means, you now know it is life. As a result of its connection to the word for life, the number 18 is considered a special number in Jewish tradition
A celebration of life.
You'll find the chai as a symbol of tattoo art, on clothing, as artwork, and of course, on jewelry.
Men and women, children and teens all can wear a chai Hebrew pendant or bracelet. Even Elvis Presley was known to wear a chai necklace!
Yes, he did!
If you're looking to wear, or gift, a chai charm that is about the same size as Elvis', but without the diamonds, here's a wonderful recommendation for you in sterling silver.
There are many lovely choices of chai Hebrew jewelry for you to wear. From pendants, such as shown in sterling silver or leather bracelets for men to 14k gold charms set with diamonds.
The next time you hear the saying, "Am Yisrael Chai" you'll know it has to do with life. The literal translation is “the nation of Israel lives.” It represents pride in the Jews’ history of overcoming persecution and adversity and determination and confidence that we will be able to meet any challenges the future might bring.
The next time you hear the toast, "L'chayim" at a dinner party or wedding you'll know it means "TO LIFE." Much like Salud is said while clinking glasses, which means health, so does the Hebrew word "le chayim."
The next time you see a double chai donation of $36, you'll understand the meaning of the numerical value of the two Hebrew letters (chet and yud) that equal 18 and thus, the celebration of LIFE.
And so it holds true that when you see a piece of jewelry worn with two letters joint together, it blesses the person with a long life.
And on that note, we say, "L'chayim!"
May you be blessed with a long, healthy life. A life of blessings and happiness, of prosperity and abundance. May you know no harm, no pain, and only success.