Dayenu — It Would Have Been Enough

Posted: April 21, 2008 in Passover, Religion, Sarah Einstein, West Virginia
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Dayenu, a song sung at Passover, is my favorite prayer.  There is something tribal about the rituals of the holiday… lifting the matzah to our mouths, opening the door for Elijah, eating the bitter herb… and knowing that around the world other Jews are doing the same.  Something that harkens back to thousands of unknowable generations.  A thankfulness that transcends all the later times of desperation.  We don’t ask at Passover why we were not delivered from the death camps in World War II.  We simply remember that we were delivered out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and are thankful.  Dayenu.  It is enough.

Sidney finds the afekoman.Leaving slavery:

If He had brought us out of Egypt. – Dayenu!
If He had executed justice upon the Egyptians. – Dayenu!
If He had executed justice upon their gods. – Dayenu!
If He had slain their first born. – Dayenu!
If He had given to us their wealth. – Dayenu!

The Miracles:

If He had split the sea for us. – Dayenu!
If He had led us through on dry land. -Dayenu!
If He had drowned our oppressors. – Dayenu!
If He had provided for our needs in the wilderness for 40 years. – Dayenu!
If He had fed us manna. – Dayenu!Emory and Rick lead the service.


The Gifts of Being With God

If He had given us Shabbat. – Dayenu!
If He had led us to Mount Sinai. – Dayenu!
If He had given us the Torah. – Dayenu!
If He had brought us into the Land of Israel. – Dayenu!
He built the Temple for us. – Dayenu!

Here is where I get lost as a new Christian.  When Jews pray, we pray in thankfulness for what has already been given.  But when Christians pray, they seem often to be beseeching.   Asking for more.  I can not get used to this. 

“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” – Exodus 15:11  In this season of Passover, let us remember and be thankful.

  1. kathyrhodes says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for this.

  2. Not all Christians pray that way, Sarah. Orthodox Christians (I’m a convert) tend to pray more like this: “Lord have mercy.” We leave it to God to decide how that mercy will look, most of the time. It’s not that we don’t sometimes say, “Please God, heal my child’s cancer” or other speciic prayers. But we see prayer as something that changes US rather than as a way to get things we want from God.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog today… check back to find out who the Electric Prunes were!

    oh… and good news: I’ll be sending my book proposal off to Gillian in a few days… almost finished polishing it. Did you have a good interview with anyone at the CNF conference? Seems like CNF Journal was wanting to publish you? The proposal I’m sending Gillian is for the other book I’m writing, not the one I had critiqued by Dinty’s group, that you were in. I’ll keep you posted!

  3. Sherry says:

    I came across this song last fall when I was teaching a class on Psalms. Love the Hebrew word, Dayenu. I think you’re so right: Christians often skip gratitude and move right on to gimme. Have spent a couple days mulling why this might be. Perhaps sometimes there’s some residual Calvinism we can’t shake — a sense that we’re never enough for God, and so we keep begging for help. It’s one thing to be a people chosen by God – it’s another thing altogether to become a people chosen by God.

    A retired pastor (85 or so, and one of my favorite people) said a couple weeks ago in a class: “The kingdom of God is constantly receding from us. When we pray the Lord’s prayer, ‘thy Kingdom come.’ we try to drag it back.”

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