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The Life of Chai


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This slideshow presentation illustrates the Hebrew symbol Chai, which means Life. It was created by Susan Marie Shuman for Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs as a promotion for his book "Why Triple Chai?". The artist used MS Paint and MS Word.

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The Life of Chai

  1. 1. Images and content created by Susan Marie Shuman.
  2. 2. Shades of Chai Yud Chet The Hebrew symbol “Chai” is made up of the letters Chet and Yud. Chet is the eighth letter of the Alef- Bet and stands for the metaphysical Divine. Yud, the tenth letter of the Alef- Bet, refers to HaShem, the Eternal One who is indivisible.
  3. 3. The nucleus of Jewish culture is life. Loving, protecting, and celebrating life is an integral part of Judaism. As such, the word Chai holds profound meaning to Jews everywhere. It has come to embody the value of life and the hope that sustains it. It also speaks to the personal will to live.
  4. 4. Yud is the smallest letter. Tradition teaches that the next world was created with the letterYud; just as it is bowed down, so it will be with the arrogant in the afterlife. Yud is the hand of God, Yad Chazaka, delivering us from slavery.Yud is the hand used when reading theTorah, so as not to lose one’s place. Yad is hand.Yud is also the tenth letter of the Alef- Bet, and a person has ten fingers.
  5. 5. In the Torah, Chet is comprised of two zayins “‫“ז‬which account for the sharp notch on its forehead. It is as if they are two separate letters joined together by a thread. To their dismay, they need one another to stand. This is why they hardly touch. In another direction, One can think of the Chet as a soul conflicted: To make the sound of Chet, one must engage the top of the throat and the bottom, simultaneously. It is as if the two parts of the throat are in combat when one pronounces the letter Chet.
  6. 6. Phoenician Chai The Phoenician Alphabet is the oldest substantiated alphabet. It is an abjad, meaning it is comprised of only consonants. Like Hebrew, there are twenty-two characters in this alphabet. Since there were no vowels, matres lectionis, (Mother of Reading) was implemented, which refers to the use of certain consonants to indicate a vowel. In Hebrew these letters are Hei, Vav, Yud and later, Alef.
  7. 7. Paleo Chai Similar to the Phoenician Alphabet (above) that it replaced, the Paleo script was used by the Israelites around the 10th century BCE. It fell out of favor during the 5th century BCE when Aramaic became the preferred writing system for Hebrew scribes.
  8. 8. Rabbi Shlomo Itzkhaki, aka Rashi, was a notable commentator and prolific writer who created his own style of Hebrew script. Rashi’s script turned out to be a prototype to the modern Hebrew cursive.
  9. 9. Cursive Chai Here is an example of a Modern Hebrew Cursive Chai. Chai as a symbol goes back to medieval Spain. Letters as symbols in Jewish culture are traced back to the earliest Jewish roots. The Talmud states that the world was created from Hebrew letters which form verses of the Torah. In medieval Kabbalah, Chai is the lowest (closest to the physical plane) emanation of God.
  10. 10. Evolution
  11. 11. If there is Chai on other planets, perhaps this is what it may look like.
  12. 12. This Chai interpretation is a popular artistic design in Israel.
  13. 13. Chai Cubed Another popular artistic design.
  14. 14. Goth Chai The Gothic alphabet is used for writing the Gothic language, created in the 4th century by Ulfilas (orWulfila) for the purpose of translating the Bible.
  15. 15. Where there are people, there is Chai!
  16. 16. You may wonder why there are three Chai symbols in each slide. The answer can be found in Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs’ Latest book, “Why Triple Chai? More of the Best of Rabbi Fuchs.” Now available at and the Bibnar store at