Dayenu 5780: Perceiving Hashem’s Hidden and Revealed Guidance of the World

Shalom Friends;

This year’s Pesach vort is being sponsored by Avraham and Miriam Deutsch and family of Efrat dedicated lilui nishmas for his Father: Mordechai ben Avraham Aba and Sara and for his Mother: Sara Rotza bat Tzion bat Avraham Yaakov and Chaya Leah. To the Deutsch family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Dayenu 5780: Perceiving Hashem’s Hidden and Revealed Guidance of the World

by, Moshe Burt

Each year, for twenty-five years, and my twenty-second 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 5780, 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 5728 (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.

We find that after the two Hebrew midwives, Shifra and Puah contravened Pharaoh’s decree to kill the Hebrew male babies, Torah relates:

“Pharaoh commanded his entire people, saying, ‘Every son that will be born — into the River shall you throw him!…'” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 1, posuk 22 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

This vort cites these excerpts from “The Measure for Measure Haggadah,” including Halachic rulings of Maran HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlit’a and published Mosad HaRav Kook and rendered to English by Rabbi Yonatan Pachas (Pages xviii-xix, 100-103):

…Our Sages teach us that there is one way to openly perceive Hashem’s hidden guidance of the world: “With the measure that a person measures, so is measured to him” (“The Measure for Measure Haggadah” citing from Sotah 8b) This concept is hinted at in the verse that states: “The hidden things are for Hashem, Keilokim, and the revealed are for us and for our sons forever, to do all the words of Torah” (ibid, citing Devarim, Perek 29, posuk 18) Many surprising and seemingly senseless events remain in the realm of “the hidden things” that only Hashem knows. But sometimes we tangibly understand that certain experiences are “revealed” and clearly display Hashem’s attribute of measure for measure. It is then we are filled with emotion and cry out: “This was Hashem’s hand!”

“…Come let us act cunningly with the people…” (ibid, rendering to English Sefer Shemot, Perek 1, posuk10)

Our Rabbis… interpreted [that Pharaoh said], Let us deal shrewdly with the Savior of Iarael [thus interpreting ‘lo’ as to ‘him’] by afflicting them [to die] with water, for He has already sworn that He would not bring a flood to the world. (But they [the Egyptians] did not understand that upon the whole world He would not bring [a flood], but He would bring it upon one nation. [ibid] citing an old Rashi manuscript to Sefer Shemos, Perek 1, posuk 10).

The Sifsei Chachamim (60) explains Rashi: “{This is] because The Holy One… repays measure for measure.

R’ Chama the son of R’; Chanina said [that Pharaoh meant], “Let us act wisely concerning the Savior of Iarael. With what can we mete out judgement upon them [without fear of Heavenly punishment]? [If] we judge them with fire [we will be punished with fire], as it is written, ‘For behold, Hashem will arrive in fire…’ and ‘For Hashem will enter into judgement with fire…’ [If we judge them] with the sword, [we will be punished by the sword,] as it is written, ‘and with His sword against all flesh.’ Rather, let us judge them with water for the Holy One, Blessed is He, has sworn that He will never bring a flood upon the world [again]…. But they did not know that [He only swore that] He would not bring a flood over the entire world but that He would bring [a flood] over one nation… And this is what R’ Elazar said, “What is that which is written, ‘for [with] which they schemed (zadu) [which is a term connoting cooking] against them…’? In the pot in which they cooked, they were cooked” (ibid, citing Sotah 11a)

Measure for measure is so implanted in the Creation that even the Mitzriyim feared it and sought various stratagems to avoid being punished through it. They avoided fire and the sword but they reasoned that if they harmed the Jews with water, the Almighty’s Hands, so to speak, would be tied, unable to punish them. … Measure for measure is not only implanted in creation, but is absolute proof of the Almighty’s sovereignty over all of the Creation. Rashi, quoting our Sages, writes, “Now… Yithro heard: What news did he hear that [made such an impression that] he came? The splitting of the Reed Sea and the war with Amalek.” This was, however, not sufficient for him to reach the level of absolute cognizance of Hashem and say, “Hashem is greater than all of the gods” (ibid, citing Sefer Shemos, Perek 18, posik 11) He only reached thisw level after Moshe told him all the miracles and he realized that the Mitzriyim were punished in the manner that they punished the Jews, as our Sages say, Measure for measure…. Yithro himself had been one of the three people present when the plot was hatched.

Rabbi Goldin, in his sefer, “Unlocking the Haggadah,” (pages 100-103) explains that Pharaoh’s decree of murder of the Hebrew male babies was the fourth stage of his scheme to “act cunningly with the people.” Stage one was to propagandize against the Jews. Stage two was to physically isolate them through projects specific to them, emphasizing that “These people are different… and… require special attention and treatment.” (as written by Rabbi Goldin in his sefer) The third stage was degradation; “…labor that crushes and breaks the body” (Rabbi Goldin, ibid, citing Rashi on Sefer Shemos, Perek 1, posuk 13) “…. [and] has no real purpose beyond physical torment and psychological degradation. …Further, the Talmudic sages suggest that, in order to mock and demean the slaves, men’s work was given to the Hebrew women and women’s work was given to the men.” (Rabbi Goldin, ibid, citing Talmud Bavli Sota 11b)

Rabbi Goldin now outlines this fourth stage of Pharaoh’s scheme: Murder (ibid, page 102-103):

…Pharaoh now feels free to embark upon his true plan: the physical destruction of the fledgling Hebrew nation.

Murder carried out in the public arena, even after painstaking preparation, must be perpetrated slowly and cautiously. Pharaoh, therefore, opens the final devastating stage of his design against the Jews in a manner that secretly attacks the weakest among them [male newborns].

When this subterfuge [by Pharaoh] is thwarted by the righteous midwives, Pharaoh finally proclaims his true intentions and commands that all male infants be cast into the Nile. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Shemos, Perek 1, posuk 22)

Even with this open step, …Pharaoh ingeniously shields himself from blame… in language that distances murder from the official seat of government. Pharaoh does not command his army… to carry out this… act. Instead, he instructs “his entire people” to murder the Hebrew [male] infants. (Rabbi Goldin citing Ramban on Sefer Shemos, Perek 1, posuk 10) In retrospect, Pharaoh will be able to protest: “What do you want from me? This was not an official action. This was a spontaneous, popular pogrom.”

So, while one can view these stages of Pharaoh’s and Mitzri persecution of the Jews through the rear view mirror of the Pesach Seder, how do we relate these events contemporarily?

The terminology of anti-semitism in words often changes through the generations, but the meanings are the same. Anti-Semitism is an irrational outgrowth of the four stages of Pharaoh’s “cunning.” The verbal and written tropes, the bogus metaphors are numerous, not to be expounded here as we would know most, if not all of them and they would take up many pages. But, eventually, Hashem deals with them all, as “The Measure for Measure Haggadah” states over and over again.

Rabbi Goldin concludes (ibid, page 104):

[These]… are the very methods devastatingly used against us… by enemies in every era, including our own times. From calculating Nazi murderers to zealous Islamic fundamentalists… in pursuit of the destruction of Israel and all of Western culture, the adversaries and tactics we face today are all too familiar. Propaganda, demonization, debasement, subterfuge and the teaching of hatred remain the… tools of the murderous trade as, over and over again, words… [inevitably] lead to deeds. Terrorist regimes hide behind the cloak of popular sentiment as they fund, sponsor and direct murderous plots against innocent civilians.

…The painstaking tactics of prejudice and persecution have remained remarkably constant. Evil will be defeated only if the initial steps are recognized when they first appear and are confronted head-on.

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 thrice 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, as Naama Issachar is now free and home — which can only occur when Jonathan is home in Israel and carrying for his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five 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.