Happy Channukah: The Dreidel of Randomness

Eighth Night Menorah (Scazon Photo/Flickr.com, under Creative Commons License)
Eighth Night Menorah (Scazon Photo/Flickr.com, under Creative Commons License)

Tis the season! As families gather to light the Menorah, engage Latkes and sufganyot, no doubt many will take out the collections of dreidels and take on a lively game. Nes, gadol, hayah sham for a few pieces of gelt will no doubt delight many. However, let me suggest another aspect of this traditional game.

The spinning dreidel spins and how it lands, no one can predict. The thought came to me as I considered this and how it has meaning for us as we get older. There is a real sense of randomness to this game. And the results too! Do we stay the way we are? Do we grow? Do we have to add something to life or loose something? The randomness of life, and how we adapt to it, does shape who we are. Think about our own lives, how we have chosen to react to the things in life that we did not control. Maybe reflect upon all the times things happened in a seemingly random way and what the result was.  All the time in the past, and now, that randomness has impacted us, for the good and the not so good; and how we have chosen to respond.

Thus the simple dreidel really can be a metaphor for what happens to us in life. We spin, we cannot predict what will be and we then have the chance to react. Again, as we have written, Judaism is a religious system that rests on choice, for what and how we choose does determine who we are.

Have a sweet and healthy and peaceful Channukah.


Rabbi Richard F Address


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