I feel tired today, although I’ve felt worse. I stayed up late last night watching The Twilight Zone (one of the fifty minute-long episodes), because I felt I needed some passive relaxation time or I would be a mess over the weekend. There are good things happening in my life, but sometimes (often, to be honest) it feels like I’m struggling to cope with them and build on them, let alone move on from them to get to some point of stability and consolidation where I can be more self-sufficient and, frankly, more adult. (At some point I should write about whether self-sufficiency is even a realistic goal for someone with my issues, and how to fit in to a society that demands it.)

I’ve been thinking recently of a story I heard last week, which I wish I had heard years ago. A dreidel is a spinning top with Hebrew letters on the sides used in a children’s game at Chanukah where there is a kitty of sweets or nuts and you put in or take out depending on what letter the dreidel lands when you spin it.

The story is that some time I guess in the 1920s or 30s (I’m not sure when exactly), the Rebbe of Bobov, Rabbi Ben Zion, was playing dreidel with his grandson Naftul’che on Chanukah. Naftul’che was winning a lot of nuts (or whatever they were playing for) and was getting very excited, so when he spun again, his grandfather put his hand over the dreidel before he could see what side it landed on and said, “We don’t always need to know what side the dreidel lands on. The main thing is for a Jew just to keep going.”

The story has added resonance as Rav Ben Zion was murdered by the Nazis, but Naftul’che survived and became the new Rebbe.

I tend to respond to inspirational messages like this, about resilience and keeping going even though things seem awful and incomprehensible a lot better than the ones that everything is really good if we would only realise. “Keep going despite awful odds,” is one of the main messages of Chanukah, so I guess it’s doubly timely.

10 thoughts on “Dreidel

  1. I think also we get caught up in imagining outcomes and feel so overwhelmed we end up paralyzed. During my divorce, I learned to just “do the next thing,” like taking a shower, driving to work, getting a coffee, etc. If I allowed myself to sit and spin off into thoughts about my horrible finances (actually improved greatly) or would anyone love me again (nope, but I’m still OK), then I’d get nothing done…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I respond better to the “everything is good” messaging vs. resilience, although I don’t know that I love either. I can’t quite pinpoint why I don’t like resilience messaging. This isn’t a criticism of your post; I am glad you shared this thought. I think this is just a “me” thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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