Thoughts on Dayenu by Abby Fifer Mandell

Rabbi Ronit Tsadok of IKAR in Los Angeles discusses what she calls the " Dayenu Dilemma." What would have really been enough, she asks? Would it truly have been enough to have left Egypt but not crossed the red sea? To have gotten to Mt. Sinai but not received the Torah? Are we to understand the Dayenu song literally?

Rabbi Tsadok offers that Dayenu is not an attempt to say that had we stopped at any of the points mentioned, we would have been satisfied. In fact, she notes, the Israelites complained mightily throughout the Exodus and journey to Freedom; even they were not satisfied.

Instead, perhaps we can understand each milestone in the Dayenu as an opportunity to pause and offer gratitude -- to sing Hallel.

"Instead of a miracle," Rabbi Tsadok says "it is enough of a blessing and gift to stop and offer a blessing -- even if, and even though we haven't quite made it where we want to be. How often are we in process and in progress in life? Every single one of us, all the time, is on some journey...personally, politically, as a nation, we are in process...we have goals and we have aspirations is really difficult, sometimes, to be where we are. Instead of only looking forward to where we are not yet, to also pause and recognize how far we've already come. This is a message that the counting of the omer wants to impart....We count, for 49 days, from the second day of Passover until Shavuot, the receiving of the Torah...You would think the logical way to count would be to count down [49 days until we receive the Torah, 48 days, 47 days, etc.] but the omer, strangely, we count upwards...The other strange thing is that we count the omer not when the Exodus starts, but before we've left Egypt... Dayenu is not about 'I am satisfied about how far I've come and I don't need to go any further.' But rather, 'I know I have a ways to go, but look how far I've come.'...Every single step we take from confinement and from constriction and from narrowness and from our Mitzrayim is an accomplishment, and it is something that we can and we must pause and offer thanks and gratitude."

In this section, we offer the traditional Dayenu song lyrics, as well as a few other traditions and interpretations to consider.

haggadah Section: -- Cup #2 & Dayenu