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 Holiday Central > Chanukah > Dreidel  > Letters & Numerical Value
Dreidel Letters & Their Numerical Value
By: Rivka C. Berman, Contributor
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The Hebrew Alphabet, twenty two letters in all, has numerical values.

The first two letters, Alef through Yod - are valued from 1 to 10, respectively.

The second set of nine letters, kof through Kuf - are valued 20 to100, respectively (counting in tens)

The last three letters, Reish through Tov - are valued 200-400, respectively (counting in hundreds). 

    · The Dreidel and the Snake
    · The Dreidel and God
    · The Dreidel and the Jewish Messiah

The Dreidel and the Snake
Evil got its due in the Chanukah battle. This scenario is replayed with every dreidel spin. The letters on the Dreidel, Nun (50), Gimmel (3), Hey (5), Shin (300) equals 358, add up to the same value as the Hebrew word for snake, nachash (Nun (50), Chet (8), Shin(300).

Beginning with the story of Adam & Eve and the forbidden fruit, the snake became the Jewish anthropomorphic repre-sentation of evil. Every time a dreidel ends its spin, evil (nachash - snake) falls. When evil stumbles, God's goodness triumphs.

The Dreidel and God
One mathematically minded rabbi found that the phrase "God is king, God rules and shall rule" totals 358 as well.

The Dreidel and the Jewish Messiah
The number 358 also equals the numeric value of Mashiach, the Jewish Messiah, who will bring upon the world a time of redemption. Mashiach is spelled:
      · Mem = 40
      · Shin = 300
      · Yud = 10
      · Chet = 8

This presents yet another layer of meaning to be read into the dreidel.

What's the connection between the Dreidel and the Messiah?
First, of course, is the belief that when the Messiah arrives, a period of goodness that will vanquish evil will preside over all. Hence, evil falling (as in the dreidel falling) signifies times of Mashiach, times of redemption.

Additionally, rabbis found a message of messianic promise behind a verse in Genesis. When Jacob was on the way to be reunited with his son Joseph, he sent his son Judah before him to prepare for Joseph's arrival.

"And Judah was sent before him to Goshen" (Genesis 46:28)

The phrase "to Goshen" is spelled with the letters Gimmel, Shin, Nun, Hey, the same letters that appear on a dreidel's four panels. Judah went ahead to set the stage for the next phase of Jewish history.

Judah the Maccabee, the hero of the Chanukah story, led the Jewish people to show them the way to renewed autonomy and religious freedom. The Jewish Messiah is traditionally cast as a descendant of the tribe of Judah, a branch of which became the Davidic dynasty.

Dreidels spin with the hope that the near future will bring this Judah-figure to lead the Jewish people to the new era of Mashiach.

More about the Dreidel.

Mazor Guide for Chanukah brings you much more about the holiday, its meaning and its traditions... See the links below.

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