My friend and I were having a little argument the other night. I lifted my glass of choice and wished him“l’chaim,” which, I explained, is a special Jewish toast that means “to life.” He said that there’s nothing unique about that kind of toast, and that many cultures—ranging from Armenians to native New Zealanders—say the same thing in their respective languages. So I ask you, dear rabbi, why do we say “l’chaim”? Is there a uniquely Jewish reason for this custom?
You guys touched on a point of contention that is over 2,000 years old. Back then, people would toast to “wine and life to the mouths of the rabbis.” Some felt that this was a forbidden, pagan superstition, but the Talmud countered this opinion by quoting a Toseft that permits this toast. The Talmud also cited the precedent of Rabbi Akiva, who said this formula over every cup at his son’s wedding feast. So we know that toasting “to life” is (at least) 2,000 years old and is considered a Jewish custom. But why? What is so Jewish about it? To Continue reading this article please click HERE:
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