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

I often see donation requests with amounts in multiples of $18. I would like to know the source for giving charity of the numeric value of the Hebrew word chai (18) and its multiples.

share|improve this question

When charity is given as a form of merit, as opposed to a general tithing obligation, it is seen as an intercessor before God. This is termed a kataigor. Angels also play this role, especially the angel Michael. To attest to this symbolically or perhaps to request that this angel intercede and serve as a kataigor on our behalf there is a custom to give charity with the numerical equivalent of Michael - 101. This custom is still prevalent among Sefardic Jews.

Since giving 101 of a particular currency may not be feasible other numeric equivalents which were connected to angels were found. 18 stems from a kabbalistic understanding of a story in Chagigah 15b: Rebbi Mayer found a pomegranate (רמון) he ate the inside and cast away the husk. The kabbalists understood this to be a veiled reference to the angel מטטרון [MaTat]. The idea being that the letters of the word רמון are the outter letters of the name מטטרון. When those are removed you are left with ט-ט, the inner substance which is what Rebbi Mayer "consumed". The gematria value of ט-ט is 18, hence the giving of charity in multiples of 18.

share|improve this answer
Do you have a source for this? – Ypnypn Jun 27 '14 at 16:42

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.