Hanukkah Dreidel – נ ג ה ש

A dreidel is a four-sided top with a different Hebrew letter on each side.

Outside of the Land of Israel, the letters are:

Nun – נ  Gimel – ג  Hay – ה  Shin – ש

When the letters are put together, they stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham or “A Miracle Happened There.”

Within the Land of Israel, the letters are:

Nun – נ  Gimel – ג  Hay – ה Peh – פ

When these letters are put together, they stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Peh or “A Miracle Happened HERE.”

The ‘here or there’  is referring to the different miracles of Hanukkah that occurred in Jerusalem about 165 B.C.E.

The first miracle is the victory of the Jewish people over the Greek armies who had taken control of the Temple in Jerusalem and desecrated the altar by sacrificing a pig and pouring out its blood, along with erecting a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies.  With their victory, the Jewish people cleaned, restored and  re-dedicated the Temple and the altar of  sacrifice back to Yahweh.  It was declared that the Dedication or  Hanukkah would be remembered at that time for eight days during the month of Kislev (1 Maccabees 4:59).

The second miracle is one that has grown over the centuries regarding the menorah and the oil.  It is said that when the Temple was restored, there was only one sealed jar of consecrated oil for the Temple menorah.  It would take eight days to consecrate more oil.  Miraculously, the one jar lasted the entire eight days.  From this story came the 9-branched menorah or Hanukkiah to remember the eight days.

The third and greatest miracle is found in John 10:30 while Yeshua is celebrating the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem.   The Jewish people wanted him to tell them plainly whether or not he is the Messiah.  Yeshua’s answer is “I and the Father are one/echad.” The greatest miracle of Hanukkah spoke to the people as the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).  Yeshua, The Light of the World stood in Solomon’s Colonade as the true menorah of the Temple (John 8:12).  Salvation, the One who would lay down his life on the altar of sacrifice as the Lamb of God offered his those who followed him as sheep the gift of eternal life (John 10:28).

During the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Jewish people underwent great persecution.  If anyone was found circumcising their sons, eating according to dietary commands, or even reading Torah, they and their families would be put to death.  According to the tradition, when the soldiers would arrive at a home, if the family was reading Scripture, they would suddenly pull out their tops and begin gambling.  Thus, the birth of dreidel.

How to Play the Dreidel Game –

1. Each player begins with 10 pennies, MnMs, buttons, toothpicks or gelt.  Gelt is chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.

2. Each person puts one of their gelt into the center ‘pot.’

3.  One person goes first by spinning their dreidel.  The letter that falls face up determines what the player will do.

Nun – נ Nite (none) – The player does nothing, takes nothing.

Gimel – ג Gants (all) – The player takes all the coins, candy, items in

the ‘pot.’

Hay – ה   Halb (half) – The player takes half of the coins, candy, items in the ‘pot.’

Shin – ש  Shteln (put) – The player will put another coin, candy, item in the ‘pot.’


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