The letters on the dreidel (outside of Israel) allude to the totality of human capabilities: Gimmel represents "guf", which literally means "body", relating to the physical. Shin represents "seichel", meaning "intellect". Nun relates to the Nefesh, the emotional. And hei stands for the word "hakol" meaning "everything", embodying the totality of human aptitudes.

On Chanukah…we reflect upon the other meaning of these letters….

On Chanukah, when the flame/light of our Messianic hope begins to shine forth in the darkness of our exile, the four sides of the dreidel become the symbol of the four kingdoms that dominated us as a result of the deterioration of these four human elements within us.

At the same time, we reflect upon the other meaning of these letters, for they are the same numerical equivalent as the four letters of "Mashiach", = 358. As the dreidel spins, we are reminded that all human history "rotates" around the axis of Mashiach and that everything will one day lead to Mashiach. May he come speedily in our days!

[Adapted by Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum from Benei Yissaschar;
reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Weekly issue #848]