“Our wedding is in 18 days.” That’s what the countdown widget on our website displayed this morning when I logged on. It’s the first of August and our wedding month is here.
18 is an incredibly symbolic number in Judaism; in fact it is one of the two most-often used symbolic numbers among our people (the second of which is 613).Â The reason for this is that in Hebrew, the letters that make up a word have numerical value, such as aleph = 1, bet = 2, and so on, with the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth letters having values of 10, 20 and 30, etc.Â The Hebrew word Chai, which means life, consists of the letter Chet, which is the 8th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and the letter Yud, which is the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.Â The numerological value of Chai is therefore 18.Â You may often see charm jewelery, works of art and even Jewish ritual objects with imagery of the Hebrew word Chai on it, given its very substantive and variably interpretable meaning (e.g. what is the meaning of life?).
So when the number 18 comes up it’s considered very lucky. With 18 days to go until our wedding, something very special is already scheduled for this day.Â It is the day I have completed the 7+ year Daf Yomi study of the entire Talmud.Â (See my previous post from a few months ago if you are interested.) The Daf Yomi Commission, which is based out of a Synagogue in New York, actually has reserved MetLife Stadium this afternoon and evening for a massive celebration called the Siyyum Shaas, magnifying the celebration that normally occurs after completing a single book of the Talmud to the scale one would expect after completing every book (referred to as the Shaas). Officially, the last day for completion is tomorrow, but the alignment of the stars (and likely the availability to book MetLife Stadium) brought about this fortuitous coincidence and I am running with it!Â Although I will not be traveling to New Jersey for the party, Jessica and I will be assembling with other Daf Yomi participants from Temple Reyim at a synagogue in Brookline to watch the satellite feed and celebrate with my father and my friends who undertook this immense project with me.
As a matter of personal reflection, my experience “traveling” through Daf Yomi gave me a great deal of insight about our peoples’ past and the origins of the prayers, practices and beliefs that we now have. With a mere 18 days until my wedding, I will take the opportunity today as I literally close one chapter of my life to begin to prepare over the next 18 days for starting the next.Â In 18 days, on August 19, when I start a new life as a married man, undoubtedly our friends and family will toast L’Chaim (to life).
Today is August 1, and I’m getting married in 18 days. L’chaim! And Rabbit rabbit.