click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Tzav
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

The Spin on Fidget Spinners

The Spin on Fidget Spinners

A deeper lesson behind the latest craze.


They are everywhere: in school, in the boardroom, at the doctor’s office, even in synagogues. They are those forever-spinning little triangular gadgets that will set you back anywhere from $3 - $25 and become an inseparable extension of the hand. Interestingly enough, people report that on first sight they are turned off by the concept of a fidget spinner, but once they try it out they are hooked.

But what most people don't know is that fidget spinners are the brainchild of Catherine Hettinger, a creative inventor and innovator. After a visit to Israel a number of years ago she saw firsthand how young Arab children were spending their time throwing stones at Israelis. Catherine decided that she needed to find a replacement for the stones, and thus the fidget spinner was born.

Sadly, her fidget spinner did not replace the stone throwing, but Catherine did stumble upon something that has now become a wildly popular fad. Alas, Catherine isn’t making any money on the lucrative toy. She gave up the patent years ago because she couldn’t afford the $400 renewal fee. But she isn’t bitter. She told the Guardian, “Several people have asked me: ‘Aren’t you really mad?’ But for me I’m just pleased that something I designed is something that people understand and really works for them.”

What is it about these fidget spinners that make them so wildly popular and addicting?

I am not an expert in trends or ADHD solutions, but I’d like to share one idea that perhaps gives a deeper reason behind the phenomenon. After all, according the Jewish perspective, the physical world reflects the spiritual. So it stands to reason that this fad is tapping into something that resonates on a deeper, spiritual plane.

Judaism believes that human beings were created with a quest for perfection. We are born as an unpolished diamond. Raised and nurtured by our parents and educators, we then set out on our own to pursue the quest that is our very existence. Jewish tradition teaches that life equals growth; a day without growth is a day that has not truly been lived. That is why human beings are referred to as mahalchim, travelers, alluding to the constant movement that characterizes our existence as we travel to toward our destination of perfection. Life is for constant growth and movement. There is no standing still.

Perhaps our attraction to the fidget spinner reflects a kinship that we feel with its constant movement, and the ease with which that sustained movement is achieved. Imagine a life that is constantly and easily moving! This is, of course, a pale imitation of the real-life movement that our spiritual sub-conscious is craving, but it taps our innermost desire to grow and move.

So whether you are a current fidget spinner addict or a fidget spinner adversary, here is a little “spin” on life. Your soul is craving movement and growth in its quest for spiritual perfection. You can either try to placate it with a cheap knock-off, artificial feeling of growth, or you can really satisfy it with the thrill of genuine growth and soul-fulfillment. It’s up to you to decide which direction you want to spin it!



May 6, 2017

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 5

(2) H, May 8, 2017 5:39 PM

Misleading Facts

This toy was not crated to find a replacement for Arab children throwing stones at Israelis. This toy was created by Catherine Hettinger as a way to entertain her seven-year-old daughter, Catherine was suffering from myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disorder that causes muscle weakness) and couldn't pickup her daughters toys and play with her. Go to The Guardian for the full story.

(1) r, May 7, 2017 6:32 PM

Who would want to live their life like a going-nowhere spinner

Contrary to the author's praise, hard to see that this is the "movement" that is needed for people who aspire to be considered "mahalchim": the spinner just turns round and round around its own axis with no progress in any direction!! Fancy footwork, nice display to watch -- but meaningful movement? After 2-3 minutes of the "display," nothing whatsoever accomplished --and its all over and finished! Who would want to live their life like that? So how does your author give this as an example to inspire??

jamie, May 8, 2017 6:42 AM

i think you're misunderstanding the author's message

He agrees with you -- that movement just for the sake of movement going nowhere is not of real value. What he is pointing out is that the phenomenon, although misguided, is tapping into the human need to grow constantly and we should embrace that desire and channel it for good. He is trying to explain the allure behind the toy.

malka, May 8, 2017 12:49 PM

Yes life is like a fidget spinner!

As the author of this article states, a meaningful life is about "constant growth and movement" and that there is "no standing still." The fidget spinner spins and moves but yet stays perfectly balanced on your finger. Life is about constant motion but yet staying balanced at the same time. Torah and Ha-shem keeps us balanced as we go through the motions.

MESA, May 8, 2017 1:38 PM

I think the author was making the point that fidget spinners are actually a cheap substitute for real movement and accomplishment. No one wants to go nowhere, but plenty of people want to feel like they're doing something even if they're not actually doing anything.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment