The spirit dwells on its turning. Ecclesiastes 1:6
Most of us know the dreydl as a symbol of Hanukkah. We play the game and eat delicious chocolate coins/gelt and we use the dreydl to tell the story of miracles. The four Hebrew letters on our spinning top ( nun, gimel, hay, shin) are an acronym for the saying “Nes Gadol Haya Sham – A great miracle happened there!” Rabbi Stan Levy taught me the dreydl can move beyond its role as a Hanukkah betting game and can direct us toward a spiritual awareness during this season of dedication and light.
The word dreydl is Yiddish and means a ‘spinning thing,’ like a top. There is a Yiddish phrase about ‘fardreying’ your kopf, meaning your head is spinning. Rabbi Stan taught me that holding a dreydl in your palm is like experiencing the world in your hands. When you spin the dreydl, imagine you are spinning the earth on its axis, and you are feeling the turning of our lives. Allow your head to spin with possibilities.
When the dreydl lands on Nun, in points to Nes -miracles. What are the miracles in your life?
When it lands on Gimel, it points toward Gadol-greatness. What is good and great in your life?
When it lands on Hay, it points toward Haya, something which is happening. Are you experiencing your life in the moment, as it happens?
When it lands on Shin, it points toward Sham, something which is there. Where is “there” for you? Is it here and everywhere and are you really ‘there’?
Arthur Rubinstein was nearly 80 years old when he told a reporter “I want to live passionately. I’m passionately involved in life; I love its change, its color, its movement. To be alive, to be able to speak, to see, to walk, to have music, paintings – it’s all a miracle. I have adopted the technique of living life from miracle to miracle.” This Hanukkah give your dreydl a few spins with these intentions in mind. Share with those around you how you might rededicate yourself to living your life fully present to the miracles and goodness around you.