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Thought for the Day: Dayeinu -- It Would Have Been Enough for Us.

One of the highlights of the seder is "dayeinu"; one amazing chesed after another, each followed by the declaration, "Dayeinu!". However, at least one line begs explanation: "If You had split the sea for us, but not brought us through on dry land; Dayeinu!" How could it possibly have been enough to split the sea and then let it come crashing down on us? If the purpose was to get us out of Mitzrayim and into Eretz Yisrael, this would be a counter-productive move; to say the least. Moreover, the very next paragraph goes through the same list; this time without the dayeinus. So this back to back recitation can't just be announce that we are thankful for each and every chesed.

Rather, I believe, that dayeinu is coming to tell us precisely "k'p'shuto"... it really would have been enough for us to experience k'rias yam suf, and nothing more. Every moment in this world is worthwhile just for itself. In p'sukei d'zimra every morning we complete sefer t'hillim, which ends with the words, "kol ha'n'shama t'hallel kah; hallelu'kah" -- literally, "Every living thing will praise G-d; Hallelu'ka". But the medrash elucidates, "al tikra neshama, ele n'shima: b'chol n'shima u'n'shima t'hallel kah" -- "Don't read neshama, rather n'shima (breath); with /for every single breath you should praise G-d." When I remember I try to take in a deep breath at that last line of t'hillim and focus on the fact that it would be worth being alive just for that breath.

Now the recitation punctuated by "dayeinu" followed by the listing without the dayeinu's tells and amazing story. First we note that each and every moment is worthwhile just for itself. Even the moment of standing at the yam suf with the sea in front of us, wild animals on each side, paroh's army charging from behind. Even if that is the last moment, or the only moment, it is worth it. Nothing else is needed nor deserved. Enjoy that moment and live it. So what is the next listing for? Because we did get more moments, and the total was so much more than the sum of the parts. Each moment was followed by another that gave meaning to the previous moment and sets up for the next one. We can't always see it while we are in the middle, but it is the truth none-the-less; and the ba'al hagada wants to make that point.

So stop once in a while during the day and enjoy a good, deep breath of life.


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