Chayyim (Hebrew: חַיִּים Ḥayyīm, Classical Hebrew: [ħajˈjiːm], Israeli Hebrew: [ˈχa.im, ħaˈjim]), also transcribed Haim, Hayim, Chayim, or Chaim (English pronunciations: // HYME, // KHYME, // KHAH-yeem), is a Hebrew name meaning "life". Its first usage can be traced to the Middle Ages. It is a popular name among Jewish people. The feminine form for this name is Chaya (Hebrew: חַיָּה Ḥayyah, Classical Hebrew: [ħajˈjaː], Israeli Hebrew: [ˈχaja, ħaˈja]; English pronunciations: // HAH-yah, // KHAH-yah).
In the United States, Chaim is a common spelling; however, since the phonemic pattern is unusual for English words, Hayim is often used as an alternative spelling. The "ch" spelling comes from transliteration of the Hebrew letter "chet", which also starts words like Chanukah, Channa, etc., which can also be spelled as Hanukah and Hannah. It is cognate to the Arabic word حياة (ḥayāh), with the same meaning, deriving from the same Proto-Semitic root.
Hebrew letters are also used as numerals, and the Hebrew letters that spell "chai" also stand for the number 18. Thus, 18 is considered a lucky number in Jewish culture. It is common to give gifts and contributions to charity in multiples of 18.
Hayim is a non-governmental organization that works on a voluntary basis to provide relief and support for pediatric oncology patients in Israel.
L'Chaim in Hebrew is a toast meaning "to life". When a couple becomes engaged, they get together with friends and family to celebrate. Since they drink l'chaim ("to life"), the celebration is also called a l'chaim.
The origins of the custom to toast this way may be traced to an account described in the Talmud, where R. Akiva said upon pouring cups of wine poured at a banquet a benediction of "Wine and life to the mouth of the sages, wine and life to the mouth of the sages and their students." Many reasons for this custom have been offered. One reason based on the Zohar is to wish that the wine would be tied to the tree of life and not to the tree of death with which Eve had sinned. A second reason brought forward is that there was a common practice to make people who intend to kill drink wine and thereby be calmed, and therefore there is a custom to proclaim "to life!" over wine in the hope that it will prevent bloodshed. A third reason is that wine was created to comfort those who are in mourning (based on Proverbs 31:6) and there emerged a practice to toast thus when drinking in sad times in the hope that one day the drinker will drink wine in good happy times, and the practice of toasting this way subsequently extended to all situations.
Old German etymology
The earliest attested forms of this etymology occur in Old German, as Haimo. This Old German name was borrowed into Old French, including into the Anglo-Norman dialect spoken in England, in forms including Haim. This became one source of the English surname Haim, along with variants like Hame, Haim, Haime, Haimes, Hains, Haines, Hayns, Haynes, Hammon and Hammond.
In 1881, 3 people in Great Britain bore the surname Haim and 67 the surname Haime. Around 2011, the numbers stood at 94 and 173 respectively, with two bearers of the surname Haim in Ireland.
People with the given name Haim
Notable people with the name include:
- Haim Arlosoroff (1899–1933), Zionist politician
- Chaim ibn Attar (1696–1743), the Or Hachaim
- Haim Bar-Lev (1924-1994), Israeli military officer and government minister
- Haim Ben-Shahar, Israeli economist and President of Tel Aviv University
- Chaim Bloom (born 1983), American Chief Baseball Officer for the Boston Red Sox
- Chaim Buchbinder (born 1943), Israeli basketball player
- Chaim Deutsch, New York City Council Member
- Chaim Elata, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering and President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Chairman of the Israel Public Utility Authority for Electricity
- Hyam Greenbaum, founder of the BBC Television Orchestra
- Chaim (Harvey) Hames (born 1966), professor of history and Rector at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
- Haim Harari (born 1940), Israeli theoretical physicist; President of the Weizmann Institute of Science
- Haim Hazan (1937-1994), Israeli basketball player
- Chaim Herzog (1918–1997), Israeli president
- Chaim Koppelman (1920–2009), American printmaker
- Hyam Maccoby (1924–2004), British scholar
- Chaim Hezekiah Medini (1834–1904), the Sdei Chemed – Talmudic scholar and halachist
- Haim Palachi (or Palagi, 1788–1868), Torah scholar
- Hyam Plutzik (1911–1962), English poet and academic
- Chaim Potok (1929–2002), American Jewish author
- Haim Revivo (born 1972), Israeli former international footballer
- J. Hyam Rubinstein (born 1948), Australian mathematician
- Haim Saban (born 1944), Israeli-American media mogul
- Haym Salomon (1740–1785), primary financier of the American Revolution
- Haim Starkman (born 1944), Israeli basketball player
- Chaim Leib Shmuelevitz (1902–1979), Mirrer Rosh HaYeshiva
- Chaim Topol (born 1935), Israeli actor
- Hayyim Tyrer (died 1813), rabbi
- Chaim Weizmann (1874–1952), Israeli president
- Gene Simmons (born 1949 as Chaim Witz), Israeli-American co-founder of Kiss
- H. M. Wynant (born 1927 as Chaim Winant), American actor
- Chaim Zlotikman (born 1957), Israeli basketball player
People with the surname Haim
- Aaron ben Hayyim (fl. 1836), Russian exegete
- Aharon Ibn Hayyim (1545–1632), Biblical and Talmudic commentator
- Alana (born 1991), Danielle (born 1989) and Este Haim (born 1986), members of the American band Haim
- Corey Haim (1971–2010), Canadian actor
- David Bar-Hayim (born 1960), Israeli rabbi
- Karima Mathilda Haim or Mathilda May (born 1965), French actress
- Mordechai "Moti" Haim, former Israeli footballer, father of the band members of Haim
- Nahshon Even-Chaim or Phoenix (born 1971), Australian computer hacker
- Ofir Haim (born 1975), Israeli football player
- Paul Ben-Haim (1897–1984), Israeli composer
- Philippe Haïm (born 1967), French film director, writer and composer
- Salim Haim (1919–1983), Iraqi dermatologist
- Solayman Haïm (1887–1970), Iranian lexicographer, translator, playwright and essayist
- Werner Haim (born 1968), Austrian ski jumper
- Yehuda Ben-Haim (1955–2012), Israeli boxer
- Yehoyada Haim (born 1941), Israeli diplomat
- Yosef Hayyim (1832–1909), Sephardic Rabbi
- Ze'ev Ben-Haim (born 1907), Israeli linguist
- Zemah ben Hayyim (fl. 889–895), Gaon of Sura
- Zigi Ben-Haim (born 1945), American-Israeli sculptor and painter
- Higham (surname), includes people with the surname Hyam
- L'Chaim Society, University of Oxford
- Mike Campbell. "Meaning, Origin and History of the Name Chayyim". Behind the Name. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- Mike Campbell. "Meaning, Origin and History of the Name Chaya". Behind the Name. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- Donin, Hayim H. (1980). To Pray as a Jew: A Guide to the Prayer Book and the Synagogue Service. Basic Books. p. 310. ISBN 978-1-5416-7403-5.
- S.Z. Ariel (1960), Enẓiklopedyah Me'ir Nativ le-Halakhot, Minhagim, Darkhei Musar u-Ma'asim Tovim, s.v. "לחיים"
- The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, ed. by Patrick Hanks, Richard Coates, and Peter McClure, 4 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), II, pp. 1168-67 [s.vv. Haim, Haime]; ISBN 978-0-19-967776-4.