Friday, January 17, 2020 -
Print Edition

A fleishig menorah?

Dear Tzviling,

I have a question for you. Why do we play dreidel on Chanukah. It’s a fun game, but does it have any siginificance?

Mindy (by e-mail)

Dear Mindy,

Your question has us going in circles.

Have we got an answer for you.

During the events which led up to the miracle of Chanukah, the Syrian Greeks issued a decree — no Torah learning. The Jews did not comply, and were only too eager to study Torah. When the officers came around to enforce the decree, the Jews were ready for them. They hid their books and produced an innocent spinning game. And voila, the dreidel was born.

Nowadays it is somewhat different. Children will often play dreidel during school hours, and when the teacher comes by, they hide the dreidels and open the books.

Dear Tzviling,

Thanks for your response. I never knew that. But what about the four letters on the dreidel?

Mindy (by e-mail)

Dear Mindy,

The four letters on the dreidel spell “A Great Miracle Happened There.” (Israeli dreidels have the letter pei instead of shin, to read “A Great Miracle Happened Here.”)

Here is where it gets interesting: The four letters (Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin) add up numerically to 358, the same value as Moshiach. The dreidel hints on the hidden light which will be revealed at the time of Moshiach.

Read the rest of the rest of the conversation between Mindy and the Dear Tzviling in this week’s IJN print edition. Get your copy by phoning Carol at (303) 861-2234.

SEND your questions to to be answered with wit, wisdom and humor by identical twins Rabbis Yisroel Engel (Denver) and Shloime Engel (Montreal) who share their combined 100 years of experience.

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