This classic seder poem is not merely a reflection on Passover, but a model for true thanks.
Dayenu means “it would have been enough.” And not in a kvetchy/sarcastic way! Dayenu is a sincere expression of gratitude, of the Jewish people’s cup overfloweth.
It’s rare to hear people say, when commenting on a blessing in their lives, “It’s enough.” When it comes to goodness, we are greedy. We want an abundance of happiness, and sometimes think of it as our due.
But immediately after we tell of the exodus from Egypt in the Hagaddah, we break into a 15-stanza song proclaiming how it would have been enough just to be brought out from slavery in Egpyt, to get the Torah, to be gifted Shabbat, etc..
We all sing jubilantly and in unison, Dayenu – It is enough.
The writer Melody Beattie beautifully captures what Dayenu is really saying and what all deep gratitude looks like: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.”
We don’t realize how lucky we are until we speak our blessings in detail. Dayenu is not merely a reflection on Passover, but a template for true thanks.
What does it mean to have enough? When do you say dayenu in a grateful way in your life?
After every action of God, we stop and sing Dayenu. This alone would be enough for us to be thankful. That gives us pause for gratitude with each one.
If we only had this item we should feel thankful that we have enough and not always want more.
I want to say how truly grateful I am for the BAI community, our clergy and professional leaders. WE are a caring and supportive community.
Conclusion Imagine for a moment a thank-you note where instead of the usual clichés you had a note in the form of Dayenu, outlining several details of appreciation. Had the person done only one it would have been enough.
Now imagine receiving such a note — highly personal, thoughtful and unique. It might be the thank-you note you actually save.
Dayenu suggests this very formula when thanking God. It is our detailed thank-you note to God — not only for saving us from the terrors of Egypt, but for giving us the instruments and experiences to form a life of Jewish meaning. It’s a wonder that we don’t recite it every day. But at our seder tables, we might take a moment after this jubilant song to turn to those at the table and, in detail, describe how blessed we are in their presence.\
Ideas from ERICA BROWN, Erica Berowitz