As Jewish communities worldwide mark thirty days ("shloshim") since his passing, this Torah email is dedicated in loving memory of the legendary Mr. Sami Rohr whose wisdom and philanthropy catalyzed Jewish communal transformation worldwide.
What's with that $18 check you got from your aunt for your birthday? Why do Jews love the number 18?
Each Hebrew letter stands for a number, and the word for "life" (chai) is spelled chet-yud, which are 8 and 10. Thus 18 is the number of life.
Hold on to that idea for a minute.
There are twelve months in a year, and the twelfth and final one, Elul, is used for taking stock of the outgoing year, casting out what doesn't work and improving what does.
Now, let's go back to the previous concept. If 18 is life, and Elul is about self-improvement, then what is the 18th day of Elul? It's the day that infuses life into the task of self-improvement.
It is no coincidence that the 18th of Elul is the birth date (47 years apart) of the founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, in 1698, and of the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, in 1745. These two fathers of the Chassidic movement taught us that self-improvement isn't a schlep. It is what life is all about.
Rabbi Shais Taub, on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team
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