Le Chaim to Life

By Rabbi Yehoshua (Shui) Rosenblum

Some wonder why the torah is so detailed and it sometimes could  seem to be hairsplitting. However, the truth is that profound lessons about life are hidden in these details. Here is an example from the Code of Jewish Law.

“During the ten days of repentance—in the special added prayer of Zochreinu LeChaim, remember us for life—one must take special care to properly pronounce the word “LeChaim,” i.e. for life, and not to say LaChaim, for this could be understood as Lo Chaim or “no life”. Hence it would be as though the individual were asking G-d to be remembered for the opposite of life. (Code of Jewish law).

Go Figure!

Why would we be concerned with such a remote idea reflected in the poor pronunciation of a word, when in any case, it is clear that the intention of the person is that G-d grant him life? Are we actually worried that someone would ask of G-d to be remembered for “no life”? This law gives us a deep insight into the definition of life.

Many consider life to be their biological existence. If I can breathe then I am alive; if I can achieve material success then I am really alive! Obviously, there is nothing wrong with living a comfortable life in good health and prosperity; we should definitely ask of G-d for this blessing.

However, this does not constitute the full meaning of life. In fact, if our material success is divorced from our spiritual existence, from our connectedness with G-d and from our love of our fellow Jew, then it is considered “no life.”

The Hebrew word for life is Chayim; there are two yuds in the center of the word which form the name of G-d, thereby telling us that true life is about our connection to G-d.

When the Alter Rebbe [old Rebbe] wished to bless his chasid R. Yekusiel Liepler with wealth, the latter said he did not want it; he did not want wealth to distract him from studying Chassidus and the service of G-d. When the Rebbe wished to bless him with longevity, his answer was: “But not ‘peasant years’—men that have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear, who do not perceive

G-dliness, nor do they hear G-dliness.”

Rosh-Hashanah-2

This great chasid, when given the possibility to receive a blessing for more life, places a condition: “I only want it if they are years that epitomize real life, years that have meaning, passion and connectedness to G-d. Not “peasant years” that are characterized only by a biological existence.” This, says R. Yekusiel, is “no life,” and he doesn’t want to know of this type of life.

The Hebrew word for life is Chayim; there are two yuds in the center of the word which form the name of G-d, thereby telling us that true life is about our connection to G-d.

So as we prepare for a new year filled with blessing, a year in which all of your hearts desires will be fulfilled for blessing, let’s make sure that we don’t just ask for life. Let’s ask G-d to remember us LeChaim, for life in the fullest sense of the word.

LeChaim to all!

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