This question makes a very commonly heard claim: "Before the miracle of Hanukkah, when those who controlled the land severely restricted Torah study, Jewish children would gather to study Torah in secret, and brought dreidels with them so that, should they be discovered by the authorities, they could appear to be playing rather than studying."

What is the origin of this claim?

  • I just saw this in taamei haminhagim. Don't remember where the mekor is though Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 16:56
  • @Mefaresh, I took a quick scan through the Chanuka section and didn't see it, FWIW.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


Nitei Gavriel Chanuka - page 306 mentions this in the name of Otzar Kol Minhagei Yeshurin. Rabbi Genut at din.org.il also quotes Otzar Kol Minhagei Yeshurin and says it is mentioned in Chapter 19:4 in the name of the Avodas Eved M'Lomza. YUTorah.org also gives the Otzar Kol Minhagei Yeshurin as the source. This leads me to believe that there is no earlier source than the late 19th century.

  • When were these works written?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:33
  • @DoubleAA, the Otzar Kol Minhagei is the first half of the 20th century. I'm not sure when his source is exactly from. If you see the link, he quotes the author of Avodas Eved and Tiferes Tvi as quoted by Rav Zivu. But I have no idea who Rav Zivu is or what exactly he quotes (oral history?). If this is the relevant sefer, then I see another sefer by the same author with a Haskama From R. Avraham Chaim Naeh, so everything is early 20th century so far.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:43
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    @Yishai Editing in such information would improve this answer IMO, or at least clarify its weaknesses.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:44
  • @Yishai Tiferes Tzvi & Avodas Eved are the same author Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:58
  • @GershonGold, ah, for some reason I couldn't find the Tiferes Tzvi when I looked. Yeah, so that pretty clearly establishes who we are talking about. The only open question is who is Rav Zivu (Zivo?) and did he write anything on this?
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 18:04

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