Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

What is the reason for the custom to give money gifts in multiples of 18 -- 18, 36, 54, etc.?

What is the reason for the custom to give money gifts in multiples of 18 -- 18, 36, 54, etc.?


Eighteen is the numerical value of the Hebrew word "chai" which means "life." It is a Jewish custom to give monetary gifts in increments of 18, thus symbolically blessing the recipient of the gift with a good long life.

When giving charity, the number 18 has another significance. It expresses our prayer that the merit of the charity given stand in our good stead, that we blessed with life and prosperity.

Chani Benjaminson

Chani Benjaminson is co-director of Chabad of the South Coast, coordinator of Chabad’s Ask the Rabbi and Feedback departments, and is a member of the editorial staff of
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Bert Pgh January 4, 2017

I am a teacher and one of my students me and two other of his teachers to his Bar Mitzvah. I have never been to one before, but a Jewish friend of mine told me that I should be honored and definitely go. I was unsure what the mother thought about me going, so I called her. After speaking with the boys mother, I felt it is appropriate to not only go, but also bring my wife and two little ones along for the experience. She was super grateful that we are coming (along with one of the other teachers). The only problem is that I am feeling really uneasy about the money situation. My wife just stopped working, so we are down to one income. The two other teachers agreed to combine with me, so I am thinking we can split $54, $72, or $90 three ways. Would that be enough? I don't feel comfortable giving money to a student in the first place, but now with my wife not working, I don't have much of a choice anyways. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Reply

sherri scottsdale April 7, 2017
in response to Bert:

better late than never...even a gift of $18 is acceptable. The gift is not the reason you were invited. Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson May 5, 2016

It's up to you! Reply

Anonymous Glendale, ca May 4, 2016

Id there an appropriate amount for high school graduation? AN $18 increment or any amount? Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson March 20, 2016

No, the gift, whether it's money or any other type of gift should be given before or after Shabbat. It can be mailed or dropped off at the boy's home. Reply

Anonymous Crested Butte March 19, 2016

The bar mitzvah is on shabbot do i still give money Reply

James Keremeous, Canada December 1, 2011

When did the monetary gift start and why? Reply

Chani Benjaminson, September 23, 2009

Yes, you can give monetary gifts in multiples of eighteen but it's not a must, you can give clothes, Jewish themed toys etc as well.. Reply

Anonymous NY, NY September 17, 2009

What is the appropriate gift to give when a baby is born? Do you give a money gift in multiples of eighteen? Reply

Chani Benjaminson, December 5, 2008

Interestingly, multiples of 18 are appropriate even in this case, it is a core Jewish belief that the earthly end of a life does not represent the end, the soul continues to live on. When friends and family of the deceased perform good deeds in a deceased person's merit they help the soul on its journey on High and help perpetuate his/her life on earth. Hence, donating in multiples of 18 is still very much appropriate, although of course one can donate any amount one wishes. Reply

Anonymous NY, NY December 4, 2008

What is the approriate amount to give to a memorial fund in the name of one who has departed this world? In other words, if 18 means "life" then would it not be considered odd to send this amount? Reply

Gentile Beth from NJ Lumberton, NJ October 3, 2008

Thank you for posting that question & subsequent answer. We are attending a jewish wedding tomorrow evening and I vaguely remember someone telling me that, however I couldn't remember the number to use. Thanks again Reply