Christian, being Jewish via his Jewish Polish Mother and having studied, lived and worked in Israel, is inspired to elucidate the meaning of this important wine toast blessing, if only because it can have both happiness and therapeutic consequences. Furthermore, at this juncture of Humanity’s evolution, we need as much happiness and health blessings as we can get.
What does the wine toast L’Chaim mean ?
Chai is the Hebrew word for “alive”. Thus, L’Chaim in Hebrew is a wine toast and-or a blessing meaning “to life”. For example, when a couple becomes engaged, they get together with friends and family to celebrate and drink wine with the L’Chaim (“To Life”) blessing.
Because there are ambiguities and objections with respect to drinking alcohol beverages for religious reasons, in particular with both Christians and Jews, it may be useful to review this part of Jewish and Biblical Tradition.
The History of the Jewish “ l’Chaim”, (To Life) Wine Toast
Wine, deemed either good or bad, has been a point of contention for over 2,000 years old in the Jewish universe. Then, like today, many Jews felt that drinking wine should be forbidden. Twenty centuries Jews were haunted by the Russian and German pogroms led by drunken oppressors while the Hebrews of the Ancient Era feared that drinking and toasting was a pagan superstition. However the Talmud countered this opinion by quoting a Tosefta (1) that allows this toast. The Talmud also cited the precedent of Rabbi Akiva who toasted at his son’s wedding feast. (2) We therefore know that toasting “to life” is an old Jewish custom, especially during wedding ceremonies.
Mythology, Torah Exegesis and More History
According to one interpretation of Tradition, the Tree of Knowledge was not the infamous “malicious” apple that Eve shared with Adam. Different religious sources suggest this Tree of Knowledge, Evil, made its Earthly entrance via the grapevine. (3)
Thus, in this context, Eve and Adam were getting drunk with fermented grapes. And since they were naked in the Garden of Eden, it is assumed that they got lusty, thus bringing to human existence “death into the world”. Fastforwarding, still according to the Bible, after the Great Flood, Noah himself is said to have planted a vineyard, because of which he got drunk (Cf Chapter 9 of Genesis). Then, in Chapter 19, there’s the Lot story, whose daughters made Lot drunk and caused him to sin with them. For these reasons, wine toasting was not seen as a holy activity, at least in the beginning of the Jewish experience.
While not prohibiting wine, the Jewish sages of Ancient times nonetheless instructed that wine was to be sipped only for the benefit of Life. Hence, the “L’Chaim” when wine toasting was called for (4). Some sages associated Peace to Life. Toasting therefore had to use both terms. “l’chaim tovim ul’shalom,” “for good life, and for peace.” (5)
The Midrash invokes still another interpretation. After the judges of the Jewish court would deliberate on capital cases, they would ask Court assistants for their life or death verdict. If these Court assistants opined that the plaintiff should live, they would reply, “L’chaim,” “To life.” If, however, it was death, they would reply, “L’mitah,” “To death.” In this case, if the judges found the defendant guilty, she or he would be given, out of compassion, very strong wine in order to diminish the pain of the execution. (6) So instead of a L’Chaim wine toast, it was L’Mitah wine toast, but a heavy one. (7) However, for the vast majority of cases, wine toasts are reserved for the promotion of Life. (7 bis)
To mitigate these wine ambiguities, the Hassidic Jews have associated to L’chaim the word “blessing”. Rabbi Dovber of Mezritch for example has declared: “L’chaim v’l’vracha,” “To life and to blessing.”
Furthermore, when we the Jews drink wine, our emotions and sometimes even our secrets can be divulged. (8) Thus, there is a need to compensate with another holistic technique, that of a blessing, what is called “l’vracha,” (ie, the Hebrew word for blessing). Hence we drink and wish each other blessings at the same time we perform a wine toast, after which the conversation tends to be smoother and laden with confidence. So we don’t want to forego sharing wine with whomever. If only because, as the Talmud informs us, when two people share a drink together, it brings them closer together, (9) a Tradition that is also shared by the French.
In light of this, the Tzemach Tzedek said that when two Jews, for whatever reason, share a drink and wish each other “l’chaim,” they draw down peace and blessings into the world. The power of friendship associated with the bestowing of good wishes via the pronouncing of “L’Chaim” is thus powerful medicine, so great that Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe, proclaimed that accomplishments orchestrated under these conditions (wine toasting and bestowing of blessings) can be even greater that what Archangel Michael himself is able to accomplish. (10).
The Origins of this Life
5 5050 hr
Because if we think of the world as a creation out of nothing, including all its parameters of time, space and the patterns of energy we call “natural law,” then the Creator must stand outside all of this. Not just outside of time and space, but also outside the necessity of those patterns.
(By “outside” I don’t mean there’s this little ball where a world is happening, and the Creator is some ominous being standing outside of it. “Outside” means beyond, transcendent of—like you stand outside and beyond the figments of your imagination. So, too, the Creator somehow conjures out of nothing an entire universe, yet He remains unchanged by any of it.)
G‑d created a world that was always here. It doesn’t appear to have always been here
The difference, however, is not just in time frame, but in their very concept of reality: The Darwinist explains this emergence in terms of dumb matter following set laws (stupidity is generally very obedient). Essentially, all this design arose by accident: Those that reproduced the most, reproduced the most (a.k.a. “survival of the fittest”). Our own intelligence, as well, is no more than a fluke of nature.
Genesis tells us that the world is made not of matter, but of conscious articulations— the “words of G‑d” by which all things came into being. All things are related because they are streams of thoughts extending from a single Mind. If some things appear to be “just here for the ride,” it is only because that intelligence is so well hidden within them. They are, in the dialectic of the
So we asked.
The answer at the dating of this writing is 5,761 years.3
The Hebrew year is indeed 5775. People make the assumption that this is supposed to be the year of the Earth’s physical existence but it is unlikely that it is meant to mean this.
Along with that, the Earth being 6,000 years old is just people rounding up from the Hebrew year rather than being accurate. So your question regarding what happened in those 225 years is null.
load more comments (11 replies)
[–]goldiespapaLiberal 9 points 2 years ago
Torah (“divine”) years are not calendar (“solar”) years. There is a line from Psalms that says (something to the effect of) 1000 solar years is equivalent to a divine day.
Using that calculus, Rabbi Isaac of Akko approximated the age of the universe at approx 15 billion (solar) years, which isn’t too far from the scientific estimate of about 13.4 billion years – certainly the same order of magnitude.
A similar basis can be made to estimate life appearing on earth at 2.6 billion years ago, which is also in the same order of magnitude.
load more comments (8 replies)
[–]LadybeeDee 2 points 2 years ago
Most interpretations of the Torah incorporate the scientific age of the universe and explain that like most of the torah it’s not taken at face value. Different ways of reconciling the 2 are used. For example, suggesting that the first 6 days of creation were days from the perspective of god/someone outside of the universe as it was in the process of creation. So as time is relative and light which is necessary to define time were being created during those days, it can still suggest the necessary period of billions of years, dinosaurs, and all. There are other explanations and you can decide if they’re satiafactory or bullshit apologetics, but there are not many including Orthodox who deny the scientific age of the universe and say it’s ~6000 years old.
The Grand Feast
Furthermore, when the Messiah arrives (Moshiach in Hebrew), there will be a grand feast, at the conclusion of which we will toast “l’chaim” over the wine that Yweh (G-d) has kept hidden for this special occasion. (11). And according to Jewish sages and prophets, this grand feast may happen sooner than we expect. (12)
So to Life ! L’Chaim ! And Bestowal of blessings to and for Peace and Health erga omnès, health as a condition characterized by much more than the absence of diseases. And Peace as a state characterized by much more than the absence of armed conflicts, wars and politics as usual.
Christian Joubert (HMI director and CSO)
Post Scriptum: However, Paracelsus and other physicians of the Ancient B.C. World have counseled that wine should always be taken moderately.”Whether wine is a nourishment, medicine or poison is a matter of dosage”. Moderation, wine quality, blessings and chronobiology (Timing) are holistic keys with respect to wine medicine.