4 Most interesting facts about the Dreidel

The menorah is lit, baked Sufganiyot on the table, their aroma fills the room on a cold winter night, the entire family gathers on the carpet or table after the traditional lighting the menorah candles ceremony, singing Maoz Tzur and you are about to being a spin the dreidel competition. Wait! Before you start spinning the dreidel, check these four fascinating fact about your favorite Hanukkah toy! It will infuse you with high spirits and improve your game!

1 The dreidel, or in Yiddush ‘spinning top’ or ‘Sevivon’ in Hebrew, originates from the time of the Greek-Syrian rule over the Holy Land—which set off the Maccabean revolt that culminated in the Chanukah miracle. Learning Torah was forbidden by the enemy, and if one was found practicing it he risked punish by death. Jewish children resorted to studying the Torah in caves and in hide, when a Greek patrol would approach, the children would pull out their tops and pretend to be playing a game. The dreidel reminds us their courage and inspires us to use the privilege we have these days to study the Torah without fear and reason to hide.

2 The classic dreidel is four sided, on the four sides of the dreidel appear four letters from the Hebrew alphabet—nun, gimmel, hey, and shin. These four letters are an acronym for "nes gadol hayah sham"—"a great miracle happened there." But, in Israel the letter shin is replaced with pey, for ‘po’-here.

3 On a deeper level the four-sides represent the four kingdoms, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome spinning around the center, once threatening the center, the Jewish People. A hand from above spins the dreidel, serving as an extenuation of the higher Hand, controlling all and the four empires that spin no more around the Jewish nation.

While the four Hebrew letters remind us of the courageous Maccabees fighting Antiochus and oil miracle lasting for eight whole days in the Temple, a closer look will reveal that the combination of letters, equals in Gematria to=358, the numerical value of Mashiach!

So, now you are all set to spin the dreidel and pass these wisdoms to the next generation. Learn more about Hanukkah traditions in our Jewish blog and get great Latkes recipes here.