Is there a Jewish origin to the game called kugelach which I played as a child in shul? Does it have any connection to the 5 stones Dovid used to kill Goliat?


2 Answers 2


It seems like maybe the game is referenced in Hilchos Treifos siman 56:3 where it describes the Arkum bone(hock bone) which connects the shankbone and shinbone. The Mechaber describes this bone further as being the bone which children play with which is called kugeil/kogil.

Text of Mechaber :

ועצם זה הוא שמשחקים בו התינוקות שקורין קוגי"ל


It's a form of a game called "jacks" or "knucklebones". See this. When I was young, I played with the round "spiky" jacks.

One day, I visited my frum friends and they asked me if I wanted to play "kugelach". I said, "sounds delicious, especially if your mother made them!" I was serious; they burst out laughing, and brought out this bag of 5 golden cubes. I said, "What did your mom put in these things? What happened?" Then they started throwing the kugelach in the air, and it was only then that I realized what was so funny.

Now if someone can explain how a bunch of stones were called "kugelach", I can relive my naiveté.

  • kugel means small round thing (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kugel#Etymology). Coincidentally, I have heard this is also related to the slur, kike - illiterate Christian folk signed papers with crosses. Jews used a circle instead. Ellis Island yadda yadda yadda... "kugel" => "kigel" => "kike." Dec 5, 2014 at 19:50
  • @Charles I like that south African Kugel slang. Never heard that before.
    – user6591
    Dec 5, 2014 at 19:58
  • Knucklebones has many, many variants. Kugelach is essentially identical to fivestones. books.google.com/…
    – LazerA
    Dec 7, 2014 at 2:33

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