During the time of the Maccabees, Jews were
imprisoned for the "crime" of studying Torah. While in jail, these
Jews would gather together to play dreidel. Under the guise of idling away
their time, they’d engage in Torah discussions and thus defy the enemies of
Every dreidel has four sides with one Hebrew letter on each side. Each of
these letters begins a word. The four letters are:
Nun – the first
letter of the word nes, which means "miracle"
Gimmel – the first letter of gadol, which means "great"
Hey – the first letter of haya, which means "was"
Shin – the first letter of sham, which means "there"
When taken together, these letters proclaim "A great miracle happened