Our Pesach vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch and family of Efrat who make a special dedication for the welfare of our chayalim! To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.
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This year will mark twenty-two years, and my nineteenth Pesach in Eretz Yisrael, in which I have emailed this rendition of Dayenu quoted from the book “Dear Brothers” by former Arutz Sheva columnist Haggai Segal, as it has become tradition with me from prior to my Aliyah.
Each year, this author tries to touch on factors, insights and lessons, learned or needing relearning, which affect the state of B’nai Yisrael — right here and right now.
As we approach Pesach 5777, it seems to this author that this quoted rendition of “Dayenu” is as vital now as it was in the first year that I emailed this vort out or, for that matter, as vital as when it was quoted in Segal’s compilation of the book in its copyright year 1988.
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 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 and at the Seder:
“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 [before the 6-day War — MB] 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.
In his vort at that first Pesach Seder in Hevron, Moshe Shamir spoke about generations of Jews settling for what was and is, rather than aspiring to achieve further and seizing opportunities to fulfill these further aspirations. But today, it seems that not only is there the tendency not to aspire further, but to actually give up, to relinquish that already achieved.
We see this tendency continue in the political realm, in our equivocal, indecisive governance and so-called “diplomacy” where we’re afraid to win outright, in academia, in the media, even in the IDF where, sad to say, our soldiers are ordered and compelled to follow so-called “protocols” when dealing with murderers bent on killing Jews, thus risking their lives and the lives of their brethren — all in the name of “world opinion.”
With the ascension to power of a new American president, perhaps the most amenable “superpower” leader in Israel’s modern-day nearly sixty- nine year statehood, Israel’s prime minister and so-called “right-wing” coalition remain stuck in “Stockholm Syndrome” of “two-state (sic)” funk such that they continue to encumber Am Yisrael with a self-fulfilling prophesy where this new American president now echoes, albeit in perhaps a softer tone, the warnings and demands of previous presidents.
When the prime minister of Israel appears on a major American Sunday political news program such as “60 Minutes” asking “Trump to help us reach a two-state solution” and then expressing the same in various other ways, is there any wonder that the new American president, who heretofore was predisposed toward moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and was supportive of, or at least benign, towards the rights of Israel to possess her historical, Biblical, Spiritual roots in Yehudah and the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), now has any Embassy move on hold, opposes annexation of parts of Yehudah and the Shomron and makes demands for renewed building freezes there and in Jerusalem?
In short, Israel’s political/governmental equivocation, rather than assertiveness and decisive actions, in the period of a more amenable new American administration, has unmasked a governance hiding behind cover of Amercan edicts, such that, as has been repeated by this author in previous vorts; an American president and administration cannot be more Zionist, more pro-Israel than the government and body-politic of Israel itself. Or stated even more succinctly, one cannot promote annexation of Yehudah and the Shomron and building there while continuing to espouse a “two-state solution(sic)” as the two are mutually exclusive.
Dayenu seems to deliver a message of striving for the building, maintaining and increasing Jewish self-esteem and recognition of 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. It seems also to mean striving to justify Hashem’s chessed inherent in the gifts yet to come — B’Ezrat Hashem; Moshiach, Ge’ula Shlaima, Torah leadership and governance, and an end to the current indecisive and often cruel, brutal, heartless, totalitarian, dictatorial governance of Memshelet Yisrael.
A commentary in the Artscroll Pesach Haggadah (page 137) cites the Malbim and 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 (MB; 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.”
Therefore, just as the Jews in Bamidbar had to confront and fight off their yetzer hara, it seems that today some segments of Am Yisrael, both secular and religious, as well as prospective governing alternatives manifest suffering from that same yetzer hara — a spiritual bondage which remains with us even today. We suffer the same danger, as our brethren who left Egypt, of capitulating to it and thus surrendering the Jewish soul and endangering our Jewish lives and sovereignty in, and over the Land of Israel.
In Parshat Shemot, this author referred to Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (“Growth Through Torah”, Parshat Sh’mot, pages 138-140) who cited Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz — a citing well worth repeating here:
“And Yosef died, and all of his brothers, and that entire generation.” (Sefer Sh’mot, Perek 1, posuk 6)
Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz…, commented .. that there are two aspects here. One is on the side of the Egyptians. They were unable to treat the Jewish people as slaves as long as they [the Egyptians] considered them important. The other aspect is on the side of the Jewish people themselves. As long as they [the Jewish people] were considered important and worthy of respect by themselves [self-respect and self- esteem], the Egyptians were not able to treat them in an inferior manner. Only when they considered themselves in a lowly manner could they be subjugated by others.
What is the spiritual road leading to Jewish self-esteem?? It seems travelled by way of our kavanah (intent) and ratzon (desire) in our tefillos, our Avodat Hashem and common decency toward our fellow Jews — V’ahavtah L’rei’cha Komocha as existed amongst B’nai Yisrael even in the depths of Mitzri enslavement. Jewish self-esteem also seems indicative of the strength of our convictions regarding Emunah in Hashem and of striving for the perceived “unachievable”; both inward and outward expressions and manifestations of limitless love for our fellow Jew and for our Holy Land. It also seems to mean breaking out, for some, of their contemporary mold of coercion and dependency, and a mutual recognition and respect for diversity within the realm of halachic observant Jewry.
As writer Moshe Shamir said years ago in his little Pesach vort;
“That’s why we’ve got to know that we’ll be facing many more ‘dayenus’ until we reach full redemption.”
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of two and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Yom Tov, Good Shabbos! Chag Kosher V’Some’ach and, remember: BE THERE at the Pesach Seder!
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.