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173. Why Do We Say L'chaim

I heard during a Shabbat meal, Parashat Acharei-Kedoshim, Omer Count 23, May 7, 1949

He said about saying L’Chaim (to life – cheers (when toasting a drink)) when drinking wine, that it is as our sages said, “Wine and life according to the sages and their disciples.” This is perplexing: why specifically according to our sages? Why not according to the uneducated?

The thing is that saying L’Chaim implies Higher Life. When we drink wine, we should remember that wine implies “the wine of Torah,” a reminder that we should extend the Light of Torah, called “life.” The corporeal life, however, is called by our sages, “The wicked, in their lives, are called ‘dead.’”

Hence, it is specifically our sages who can say, “wine and life.” This means that only they are qualified to extend spiritual life. Uneducated people, however, have no tools for it, with which to extend. (And perhaps, “according to our sages” means according to the view of our sages. This means that life, what they call “life,” refers to spiritual life.)

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