Svivon is the Hebrew name for a Dreidel or a spinning
there are four letters on the svivon: Nun, Gimel, Heh, Peh(Shin).
The letters represent initials of the words: G-great, N-miracle, H-happened, S-there (when played out of Israel) or P-here (in Israel).
The mentioned miracle happened in the year 165 BC, in the days of
Maccabim, after the second Temple was defiled by ancient Greece. There was
a need for pure olive oil to light the Menorah in the Temple. The amount of pure
oil was for one day, but the oil lasted for eight days of light - it was a miracle.
Traditional Svivon is a game piece played in different ways
in various Jewish communities. Some just spin a svivon, read
letters and are reminded of the
great miracle, others play a game called “put-and-take”, using a dreidel marked
with four Hebrew letters: Nun - no win / no lose, Gimmel - take all, Heh - take half, Shin or Peh - lose. The game is played for candies, nuts and coins which are
received as a present for Hanukah.
During the eight days of Hanukah Jewish children play with a svivon.
In the old days a svivon was made of tin or lead.
The svivon and its shape is a source of inspiration for stories, songs, games, decorations and art objects.
Why Jewish children play with a svivon?
The svivon became a part of Hanukah
a Jewish folklore item
relying on interpretations:
The four letters on the svivon got
new meanings, G.S.N.H
represented Goshen from Genesis 46, 28 "And he sent Judah...
For some communities the four letters represent
days of the
Messiah (358 in Gimatria, numbers that represent letters).
Some say those letters are an abbreviation for
(Hahashmonai from the days of the Maccabim, when Hebrew money was coined).
When ancient Greece forbade studying the Torah,
used the letters on the svivon to study.
The svivon and its' motion represent Hanukah:
Like the Maccabim, the svivon stands and falls then stands again.
Jewish kids were forced to run in circles like the svivon.
There is a Hassidic saying: Even when we are few
weak, and our enemies
are many and strong, one svivon spin - can change everything as happened
in the days of the miracle of Hanukah.
In Israel the letters where changed to G-great, N-miracle, H-happened, P-here (P in Israel).
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