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’ refers to the 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.

The second miracle is one that has grown over the centuries regarding the menorah and the oil.  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.

The third and greatest miracle is Yeshua, the Light of the World who stood in Solomon’s Colonnade as the true menorah of the Temple (John 8:12).

The fourth miracle is that the Jewish people survived the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes. If anyone was found the reading Torah, they and their families would be put to death.  According to the tradition, when the soldiers came to a home, if the family was reading Torah, they would hide their scrolls, pull out their tops and begin playing the gambling with a dreidel.

The Game of Dreidel

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 – The player does nothing, takes nothing.

Gimel – ג – The player takes all the coins, candy, items in  the ‘pot.’

Hey – ה  – The player takes half of the coins, candy, items in the ‘pot.’

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

Two and three are repeated again with the next person spinning their dreidel. 

©2015 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.  

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