Dayenu 5782: To Remember, Embellish, Internalize and Renew Our Heritage and Connection with Hashem and with Eretz Yisrael

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 5782: To Remember, Embellish, Internalize and Renew Our Heritage and Connection with Hashem and with Eretz Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

Each year, for now twenty-seven years, and twenty-fourth Pesach in Eretz Yisrael, this author has 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’nei Yisrael — right here and right now.

This year’s Pesach vort is written against the background of the Russian four-prong invasion of the independent nation of Ukraine, with its current president and prime minister — both Jews, and the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people with their centuries-old heritage and historical links to their land and their nationhood which has weathered numerous wars spanning centuries.

As we approach Pesach 5782, 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.

Upon completing the singing of “Dayenu,” we say, as rendered to English in “The Measure for Measure Haggadah” published by Mosad HaRav Kook (page 143):

“…How much more so should we be grateful to the Omni-present for the doubled and redoubled goodness that He has bestowed upon us: for He has brought us out of Egypt, and carried out judgements against them, and against their idols, and smote their first-born, and gave us their wealth, and split the sea for us, and took us through it on dry land, and drowned our oppressors in it, and supplied our needs in the desert for forty years, and fed us the manna, and gave us the Shabbat, and brought us to Har Sinai, and gave us the Torah, and brought us into the Land of Israel and built for us the Beit Hamikdash to atone for all our sins.”

This author might add to the above citing: How much more should Am Yisrael, both we in Eretz Yisrael and our brethren — the Jews throughout the world, express our gratefulness to Hashem that we live in the times of our return to Eretz Yisrael as a sovereign nation?

In his vort at that first Pesach Seder in Hevron, Moshe Shamir spoke about generations of Jews settling for what was, 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. In our generation, segments of Israeli society, as well as Jews worldwide, are totally out of touch with Judaism’s traditions, spirituality and even contemporary history, let alone our history dating back to the Avos and the affliction, dehumanization, cruelty, oppression and enslavement of our forefathers by Pharaoh and the Mitzriyim (the Egyptian people).

In the above context, this author refers to the world’s secular Jews who, unfortunately, currently constitute the majority of the world’s Jews.

This author cites the Vidui Bikkurim (as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Parshat Ki Tavo, Sefer Devarim, Perek 25, posukim 5-10 with explanation, page 1068) :

“Then you shall call out and say before Hashem, your G’d, ‘An Aramean tried to destroy my forefather. He descended to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there became a nation — great, strong and numerous. The Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and placed hard work upon us. Then we cried out to Hashem, the G’d of our forefathers, and Hashem heard our voice and saw our affliction, our travail, and our oppression. Hashem took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with great awesomeness, and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place, and He gave us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey.'”

The Torah… gives the details of a commandment… first mentioned in Sefer Shemos (Perek 23:19). After the Land was conquered and allocated, farmers were to take the first ripened fruits to the [Beit Hamikdash] and present them to the Kohen, in a ritual that included a moving declaration of gratitude to Hashem for His eternal role as the Guide of the Jews’ history.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, in his work, “Unlocking the Haggada,” emphasizes “Historical Personalization/Participation” as one of the goals of the “Maggid” section of the Haggadah through discussing the Vidui Bikkurim (pages 92-94, 97-98):

…The Rabbis seem to make a strange choice in their selection of Torah text for study at the Seder.

The Vidui Bikkurim is designed, after all, to be recited by… farmers only after the land of Cana’an is conquered and settled, centuries after the events surrounding the Yetziyat Mitzrayim have occurred.

To compound the problem, the Vidui Bikkurim is associated in the Torah with a festival other than Pesach. The first fruits are to be brought to the Beit Hamikdash each year on Shavuot.

Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik maintains that the incorporation of the Vidui Bikkurim into the Haggadah highlights the identical foundation lying at the core of the first fruit and Seder rituals.

Both rituals, the Rav argues, are fundamentally acts of Hakarat Hatov, the expressing of thanks to the Almighty; their retelling of the Yetziyat Mitzrayim is calculated to awaken within the participant a heightened sense of gratitude for Hashem’s guiding hand in the course of human events. (Rabbi Goldin citing Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik, “The Nine Aspects of the Haggada,” in the Yeshiva University Haggada, ed. Cohen and Brander) Neither of these ceremonies is to be perceived as sterile storytelling. If we retell historical tales but are not moved to thanks, we have not performed either of these Mitzvot at all.

…Our Haggadot quote[s]… [on the words] And numerous: As it is said: “I caused you to thrive like the plants of the field, and you increased and grew and became very beautiful, your bosom formed and your hair grew long; but you were naked and bare” (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Yechezkel, Perek 16, posuk 7) “I passed over you and saw you wallowing in your blood, and I said to you, ‘by your blood shall you live,’ and I said to you, ‘by your blood you shall live.'” (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Yechezkel, Perek 16, posuk 6)

How does Yechezkel’s prophetic comparison of Israel to a young woman who thrives “like the plants of the field,” yet remains “naked and bare” inform the Torah’s description of the enslaved Jews as “numerous?

Numerous interpretations are offered to explain the details of Yechezkel’s vision and their possible relationship to the Yetziyat Mitzrayim narrative?

The Ritva, for example, maintains that the prophet compares enslaved Jews to “thriving plants of the field” because the more one prunes a plant, the healthier it grows. Miraculously, the more the Egyptians afflicted the Jews, the more they miraculously “multiplied and flourished. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Shemos, Perek 1, posuk 12)

Other commentaries point to the birth of plants from seeds buried deep within the ground. Just when these seeds appear to have disintegrated, a shoot sprouts forth and a thriving plant begins to grow, So, too, after years of darkness and pain, when all seems lost, the nation of Israel springs forth from Egypt. (Rabbi Goldin citing Cohen and Brander, Yeshiva University Haggada)

The slaves suddenly felt the duty of commandments, the power of a life devoted to higher ideals and goals. They understood what it means to enter into a covenant with the Almighty.

The point of this vort is, as the title indicates: to remember, embellish, internalize and renew our heritage and connection with Hashem and with Eretz Yisrael. To be a JINO (Jew in name only), yet secular in every other way and lacking any self-respect for the fact that he is a Jew — just doesn’t cut it. That lack of self-respect as a Jew extends to actually endangering Israel’s security and sovereignty, and endangering his fellow Jews worldwide.

The point is: Be there, at the Pesach Seder — in mind, heart, neshama, spirit, Or be square!

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, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he is now in his second year at home in Eretz Yisrael. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May 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 seven 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. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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.