Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dreidel Mysticism

[The account of Zechariah's dream lamp is read every Hanukkah. Medieval illuminated manuscript]

This drash is not my composition. It came to me via e-mail and I'm trying to track down the source [addendum - it's handed down from CHaBaD]. I thought it apropos for the time of the season:

Rabbi Refael of Barshid said: "Just like there are 70 facets to Torah, so too there are 70 facets to Jewish customs, and the sages say that all the miracles come from the palace of Moshiach {the Messiah}, and during Chanukah light from Moshiach descends. This is hinted at in the letters on the dreidel which add up to Moshiach=358.

The Bnei Yissoschor writes that by playing dreidel one can nullify many negative forces: "And with this you'll understand the custom of our fathers which is Torah, that during Chanuka (which is the education and preparation for the future Geula speedily in our days), the children play with squared off pieces of wood with the letters gimmel, shin, hei, nun etched in them,one letter per side, and this wooden top spins on a central point to show that these kingdoms which are alluded to in these letters - which oppose Holiness by way of separating [from the Divine Unity] by spreading out to all sides, all spin on the central point - the Jewish people who unite all the sides, therefore the sides rotate on the point and all will be nullified to the center, [as the prophet says] "v'az yahapoch el amim, safa berurayachad likro b'sheim Hashem" (then the nations will be transformed into[one] clear language to call upon the name of Hashem [G-d]), at which time the zohamas na'ch'ash ( the filth of the primeval snake) which has the letters of gimmel, shin, nun, hei will be nullified - and then Hashem rules, ruled and will rule ....with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu speedily in our days amen."

To which I may add this thought - that if we take the 358 of the dreidel and add to it the 7 days of the miracle of the oil (the first day it burned as it naturally would - the miracle began the 2nd day), the resulting number is 365, teaching us we should take the values of the 8 days of Hanukkah and extend them to our spinning globe the rest of the year. And just as Jews may be the fulcrum, so too the rest of humanity makes up the 'faces' of the dreidel, and therefore cannot be ignored. So our constant engagement with and concern for all peoples is part and parcel of what will (may he come speedily and in our day] bring Mashiach ben David.

I hope everyone has an enlightened Hanukkah.

Zal g'mor - to learn more, read the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism: http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Jewish-Myth-Magic-Mysticism/dp/0738709050


Blogger Rabbi Seinfeld said...

Great post, thank you.

(I think you will find the original source of the drasha in Chabad - this is a popular teaching "there" (pun intended))

11:54 AM  

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