Photo Credit: Jewish Press

To be chai, alive, deserves an exclamation point! To be alive is more than just not being dead. A person in a coma, r”l, is alive, but is more like not-dead. In fact, in the prayer of tal (dew) which we recite in Mussaf of the first day of Pesach, we pray “l’chaim v’lo la’moves,” to life and not [merely] not to death (see Rav’s S”A Orach Chaim 582:7). So, chai means really alive!

How can we be truly alive!? When we live for something greater than ourselves, something worth dying for. There are countless pursuits we can choose to follow in life, but there’s only one that is absolute, all-encompassing, and eternal, and is the one worth living – and dying – for.


What is worth dying for? The Midrash (Avos d’Rabi Noson, Ch. 34) lists “ten that are called alive.” The first three are G-d, the Torah, and Israel (the Jewish people). Our history is replete with Jews demonstrating self-sacrifice to maintain fidelity to G-d, the Torah, and Israel.

G-d is life – absolutely. He is the source of life (Psalms 36:10). Everything alive receives its life-force from Him, in proportion to how much it is connected with G-d. Torah and Israel are inherently and indelibly bound up with G-d, hence they are high up on the list of our lives.

In fact, the Zohar (3:73a) states: “Israel, the Torah and the Holy One, Blessed be He, are bound together.” At their core, G-d’s unification with Torah and Israel is such that they are one. If we, the Jewish people, bind ourselves with G-d and the Torah, we will be truly alive.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleWord Prompt – CHAI
Next articleWord Prompt – CHAI – Ariela Davis
Rabbi Gershon Schusterman is the author of "Why, God, Why? How to Believe in Heaven When it Hurts Like Hell."