What is the Dreidel? What is the purpose of it? A regular game? Us Jews went through so many hardships in the last 2000 years and lost so much of our original culture. How can it be that one of the few things remaining is just a regular game?
The meaning of the dreidel must be more than a simple game. A dreidel has no center of gravity, therefore it cannot stand by itself; it needs someone to spin it. If one walks into a room and sees a dreidel spinning, one can be certain that someone had spun it. Similarly, we humans have no center of gravity. If one tries to stand up a dead person, the body would fall; even a live human will eventually collapse after standing for a long time.
How do we stand? Obviously Someone had “spun” us. Every morning, we say Modeh Ani, we thank God שהחזרת בי נשמתי, that You returned my soul. We are thanking God for “spinning” us again, just like a dreidel cannot stand without a human spin, we cannot live without the spin from God.
No matter what, the dreidel will not continue spinning forever and will fall down until it gets another spin. So too, as hard we try, every night we are always going to fall. But this is hopefully just temporary, until we wake up in the morning and find that God gave us another “spin”.
Although we do not control the “spin”, we control what we do while we’re up and about. Will we use our time to enjoy this world, build stadiums, enjoy the finer arts like the Greek culture does? Or will we follow the lead of the חשמונאים and use our time to bring God’s light into this world.