This year will mark fifteen years, and my twelfth Pesach in Eretz Yisrael, in which I have emailed, as it has become tradition with me from prior to my Aliyah, the rendition of Dayenu quoted from the book “Dear Brothers.” In each year, Dayenu holds a unique perspective, unlike the perspective of any previous year.
You may note that much of the text is repetition. But if you take the time to read this post, this year and every year, you will see that which this author sees as factors in the state of B’nai Yisrael — right here and right now.
And so, the lessons of Dayenu are vital now, just as they were in the first year that I emailed this vort out or, for that matter, as vital as they were when it was quoted in Segal’s compilation of the book in its copyright year 1988.
As we approach Pesach 5770, we take time to ponder this brief section about Dayenu and wonder what tests of emunah Hashem will toss our way as a Klal which might approach or exceed his tests of our forefathers in Mitzrayim; i.e., taking the Mitzri avodah zora — my parody about “Tying the Korban Pesach to the Bedpost Overnight”, then slaughtering it, applying its blood to our doorposts so that the Moloch HaMavet passes over our Jewish homes… and eating it at the Seder table on the night before going out from Mitzriyim.
What tests akin to the Korban Pesach, or Kri’yat Yom Suf (crossing the Reed Sea) does Hashem have in mind us this Pesach, as Moshiach approaches B’ezrat Hashem, to test OUR mettle as Jews? Do we have the backbone, the “fire in the belly” to stand up and physically express in a multitude of ways our sovereignty and our ownership of Eretz Yisrael? Are these the modern-day tests akin to the tests our brethren faced in the day of Pharoah and Mitzrayim?
In the Book “Dear Brothers”, the story is told how Pesach 5738 (1968) was approaching when the first group of Pioneers endeavored to establish themselves in Chevron. Among this hearty group were Rabbis Haim Druckman, Eliezer Waldman, Moshe Levinger, Shlomo Aviner and others:
We pick up the story as the participants, “Sixty people sat down to that historical first Seder…” in Chevron.
“Another participant was the author Moshe Shamir, formerly affiliated with the leftist Hashomer Hatzair(the Young Guard). As he did with each of the celebrants during the Seder, Rabbi Druckman asked Shamir to make some comments appropriate to the festival. The others braced themselves for the minor unpleasantness that was sure to result…”
But at every Seder since then; other guests have repeated the Drosh that Moshe Shamir delivered that first Passover Seder in Chevron and so I try to give it over each year to my friends and relatives on Pesach via the Internet(MB):
“The fourteen verses in the song Dayenu (It would have sufficed) have drawn the attention of the commentators throughout the ages. Why should we imply that we could forgo even one of the gifts given to us by Hashem three thousand years ago? How would we have gotten along at all without every one of them? The truth is that this part of the Haggadah has only one aim: to teach us how each and every generation of Jews tends to settle for the achievements of the past, to settle for what its forefathers had accomplished — and to rest on its laurels, with no aspiration for anything not achieved thus far. We, too, right here have that same tendency to say Dayenu — ‘It would have sufficed for us.’ The State of Israel? Dayenu. Unified Jerusalem and liberated Hebron ? Dayenu. Wasn’t it just last year at the Seder that we said, ‘If Hashem had given us Israel but had not given us Jerusalem and Hebron — dayenu? That’s why we’ve got to know that we’ll be facing many more ‘dayenus’ until we reach full redemption.”
The book recounts that Rabbi Druckman stood up and kissed Shamir’s forehead.
The commentary in the Artscroll Pesach Haggadah speaks about Dayenu in this way; “…The bondage of our forefathers was two-fold — physical and spiritual — and so was their redemption. The physical bondage came to an end on Pesach night, but the spiritual redemption reached it’s climax only with the building of the Temple and Hashem’s self-revelation in his sanctuary.”
“Every step on the road to this ultimate goal was a further act of Divine kindness to us, a further revelation of Hashem’s majesty. That’s why we give thanks for each …favor (my word; kindness) bestowed upon us. For every single step, we say Dayenu — it would have sufficed by itself to give our thanks (attributed to Malbim).”
This does not mean that any one step would have sufficed by itself to bring us to our goal. It does mean, however, that each of the happenings of Yetziyat Mitzrayim, Giving of Torah at Har Sinai, the travels through Bamidbar, entry of the Jewish People into Eretz Yisrael through to the building of the Beit HaMikdash “represented a new remarkable miracle — …that Hashem need not have performed these miracles if he had not seen a particular purpose for each.
Dayenu seems to mean recognizing the great chessed that Hashem has done for us with every gift that he has given to the Jewish people from Yetziyat Mitzrayim until now as well as the chessed inherent in the gifts yet to come B’Ezrat Hashem; Moshiach, Ge’ula Shlaima, Torah leadership and government and an end to the current cruel, brutal, heartless, totalitarian, dictatorial rulers.
In our time the road continues for B’nai Yisrael. Entebbe, Israel’s successful bombing of the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor, Gulf War 1, The 9 1/2 years of the “Oslo” War, 9/11, the bombings of a Syrian nuclear site as well as bombings of military convoys in the Sudan carrying military contrand to terrorists in Gaza as well as ever-growing concern about Iranian Nuclear Reactor and developments, the Roadmap/Seperation wall/Expulsion/Annapolis machinations of current governments of Israel … — these are physical, political national road.
And the spiritual road leading to Jewish self-esteem?? It is travelled by way of tefillos and Avodat Hashem, as well as by way of the strength of our convictions regarding Emunah in Hashem and by striving for the perceived “unachievable”; both inward and outward expressions and manifestations of limitless love for our fellow Jew and for our Holy Land.
But an indispensable key to the spiritual road is our chessed — not just throwing money at a need, but expressing our chessed through kindnesses done for our fellow Yid in need.
We tend to function, each in our own domain first and foremost. We operate out of expediency — with speed-of-light Davening, at the place of business, dealing with our families. We, in our autos, speed past our brother, ignoring his welfare or that he has his finger out to go exactly where you are going. We see our brother running to catch a bus and don’t make an effort, on his behalf, to get the driver to wait that extra second. We seem to turn a blind-eye and deaf ear to abuses — domestic, child or otherwise, and often at the hghest communal levels.
Instead we give our brother a blank countenance, or a state of indifference and/or blunt insensitivity as we are only self-concerned. We are not totally forthcoming and truthful with our brother concerning the facts of a business or banking transaction often putting “obstacles in the way of the blind” as we grub for that last shekel at the other guy’s expense. We give and take bribes — protexia at all levels, if it’ll increase our personal influence, our place in history or our position on “the bottom line.” And we are totally blase’ about OUR Land — Eretz Yisrael, so much so that we continue, business as usual, even as we are in mortal danger from the evil dictatorship controlling affairs of state turning a blind eye and deaf ear to their constituency, their fellow Jews. And each group has an agenda working against every other group thereby dividing us all and letting the evil ones “divide and conquer.”
We’ve lost our sense of unity of national purpose — the bond that in the past held us together as one such that an attack on my brother in Hevron, in Beitar, by Arab forklift drivers in Jerusalem, in the Golan or in Ramat Aviv Bet or on a Mall in Haifa was an attack upon ME — and I got my dander and did saomething about it. We’ve lost our sense of unity of national purpose of which all of our sectarian differences, prejudices, etc. were heretofore subordinate and subserviant.
And so, there is the old adage that a Government is but a mirror image of the people it leads. I hold that the purity and freshness of our Tefillah, Avodah, Mitzvot and awareness of OUR unique relationship with Hashem, as well as our outward displays of unity and love for our brethren are directly related to Dayenu. These outward displays of unity are manifested by fighting in every way the current anti-Torah, cruel decrees of evil regimes and the modern-day medina’s mega-evil “justice system” in order that every believing Jew grasp the true extent of the evil being contemplated against them.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to stand up to prevent any further evictions of Jews from their homes and to prevent any further handing over of Jewish land to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Yom Tov! Chag kosher V’Same’ach!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.