Dreidel Game: Chanukah - General Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Dreidel Game

I read that some students in New York beat the world record for dreidel spinning, with 618 people simultaneously spinning dreidels. As a kid I remember playing a game where everyone spins a dreidel and then gets to take money out of the pot. Can you refresh my memory how to play this game?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Ahh, the wonderful dreidel game!

Each player starts off with an equal number of coins, nuts, M&Ms, stones or whatever you wish to use.

Each player takes turns spinning the dreidel. If it lands on:

• Nun - the player receives nothing, next player spins.

• Hey - the player takes half of the pot.

• Gimmel - the player takes the entire pot.

• Shin - the player puts one piece into the pot.

Each time the pot is emptied out, each player puts in a piece (coin, nut, candy) and the game continues.

The original of the dreidel is that 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 Judaism.

The letters stand for Nes Gadol Haya Sham - a great miracle happened there. (In Israel, a Pay is substituted for the Shin.)

As you saw in the news, another way to play is to have a contest to see who can spin it the longest. Or who can get the most dreidels spinning simultaneously.

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