We spin the dreidel into another Hanukkah, and this time, in America at least, Hanukkah combines with Thanksgiving. In fact, with the quirks of the lunar calendar and its adjustments to the solar calendar, this is the first time Hanukkah and Thanksgiving have ever fallen one same day, and it won’t happen again for another 75,000 years! I like this tie because it has the two kinds of dreidels–nes gadol hayah sham (a great miracle happened there–in Israel) and nes gadol hayah po (a great miracle happened here–for those living in Israel). The miracle refers to the miracle of lights. According to the Talmud, the Maccabees liberated the Temple and found only enough oil to kindle the lights for one day, but they lasted for eight days. This year, we Americans might also reflect on the great miracle that is America and the blessings of freedom, including and especially religious freedom, that we enjoy on these shores. The “Peh” dreidel can work here too, at least on Thursday.
Looking ahead to Shabbat, #TieBlog proposes a connection between this tie and Parashat Mikketz. Joseph’s life has been like a game of dreidel. He landed on some hard times and is lying forgotten in an Egyptian jail. Then his fortunes turn dramatically when he interprets Pharaoh’s dreams an disappointed viceroy of Egypt. He saves the people from starvation and ultimately his own family as well. In the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Joseph says upon his new appointment: “Anyone from anywhere can make it if they get a lucky break!”
Yes, the game of dreidel is a game of chance and luck. At the same time people have to make miracles happen, whether it’s crushing olives to make enough olive oil to kindle fire even for one day, let alone eight, or to cross the Atlantic in the Mayflower to a strange new land in search of religious freedom.