Luck Be a Dreidl Tonight: "Millionaire," Chanukah and Other Games of Chance

Publication Date: July 2009

Publisher: National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (U.S.)

Author(s): Jennifer Krause

Research Area: Culture and religion; Media, telecommunications, and information

Keywords: Jewish Content; Jewish Law (Halacha); Values; Television

Type: Other


Rabbi Jennifer Krause discusses the recent fascination behind game shows such as ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and Fox's " Greed." She explains that these games of chance have timeless appeal and make us feel alive. The author questions the underlying basis for why some of the most thrilling games are the ones that hinge on chance alone and suggests that the answer may lie in their immediate outcome and instant payoff. She then relates this issue to Hillel and Shammai's famous debate about the thrill of the big moment, which focuses on the order to light the Chanukah candles. Hillel's vision was chosen, reasons the author, because it was, in many ways, a celebration of the enduring spirit and was not centered around instant gratification.