Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

During the עשרת ימי תשובה we make insertions into the שמונה עשרה, each of which contains the word לחיים, meaning "for life."

What is the source for insisting on pronouncing it "zachrenu l'chayim," "uch'sov l'chayim," etc. (with a schwa) instead of "lachayim" (with a patach) in each case?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Apparently the first one who discusses this is Maharam Rothenburg, cited in Tur, Orach Chaim 582. His reasoning is that "lachayim" could be misunderstood as two words, "la chayim," meaning "no life" (and he analogizes it to a statement in the Gemara, Nedarim 11a, about "lachullin" being possibly misinterpreted in the same way).

share|improve this answer

Usually it's just "l'chayim", meaning "for life." "Lachaim" would mean "for the life." When is it used that way?

share|improve this answer
In Isaiah 4:3 we find it with a patach. But also, after all, we use the definite article elsewhere in these prayers, for example "bachayim." And so apparently the older nusach - which Maharam Rothenburg argued against - indeed had "lachayim." – Alex Sep 12 '10 at 17:40
It seems that chayim requires the definite article from the other two attestations of it in the first insertion: בחיים and החיים. – WAF Sep 12 '10 at 17:41

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.