By Jaron Zanerhaft
In the Jewish tradition, the number 18 is said to bring luck, happiness, and health through its mysterious, divine powers. In Gematria, the Jewish numerology, each letter of the Torah and Hebrew alphabet is given a numerical value. With the right combination of letters, any number can be calculated. This means that not just every letter, but every word as well has a number that corresponds to it. Many of these numbers are believed to have mystical powers contained within. Of these, the most well known and most powerful is the number 18, which corresponds with the Hebrew word Chai. Chai, which translates in English to Life, is spelled with two Hebrew letters— Chet and Yud. In Gematria, Chet = 8 and Yud = 10. Therefore, Chai = 18.
Judaism holds life in the highest regard. Though we believe in an afterlife, we are taught to focus our efforts on improving our situation here on Earth. We believe that life on Earth is what we were created for, and therefore is the most important and noblest cause. The number 18 reminds us to be present for our lives and not to just watch them as if they were playing out on screens. Chai embodies fervor and awareness, letting us know that we can control our lives, we can determine our own directions, and we can improve the physical world around us. It is why, when Jews make a toast, they toast ‘To Life.’ So let’s raise our sparkling apple juices and make a toast to making this life on earth, the only one we’ve got, count. “L’Chaim!”