Chai (symbol)

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Chai (Hebrew "living") is a symbol and word that figures prominently in Jewish culture. It consists of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet Chet (ח) and Yod (י).

The Hebrew word "living" is related to the term for "life", chaim; ḥayyim.It appears in the slogan "`am yisrael chai!" (, "The people of Israel live!").

Spelling and pronunciation

The most common spelling is "Chai", but the word is occasionally also spelled "Hai". The usual modern pronunciation of this word is , while a transcription of the Biblical and Mishnaic pronunciation would have likely been (with a pharyngeal consonant).

Numerological associations

There have been various mystical numerological speculations about the fact that, according to the system of gematria, the letters of chai add up to 18 (see "Lamedvavniks" etc.). For this reason, 18 is a spiritual number in Judaism, and many Jews give gifts of money in multiples of 18 as a result.

In Jewish culture

The Chai symbol is often worn by Jews as a medallion around the neck (along with the Star of David (Magen David), and the Hamsa).

In Hebrew, the related word chaya means "living thing" or "animal", and is derived from the Hebrew word chai (חי), meaning "life".

Jews often give gifts and donations in multiples of 18, which is called "giving chai". Mailings from Jewish charities usually suggest the amounts to give in...
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