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    Origins of the dreidel – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. What is the purpose of playing with a dreidel?

    A. The dreidel (sevivon in Hebrew) or spinning top is a favourite Chanukah game, despite the Jewish ambivalence towards gambling.

    Some link this pastime to the tradition that one should not study or work whilst watching the Chanukah lights.

    There is also a significance in the fact that the four sides of the top bear the Hebrew letters nun, gimel, heh, shin – short for nes gadol hayah sham, “a great miracle happened there”, which proclaims the power of the hand of God in history.

    It truly was a miracle when the tiny band of Maccabees and their followers overpowered the might of the enemy.

    A similar miracle happened so often in history when overwhelming odds were defeated by the indomitable spark of faith and determination.

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