The Bible Says What? ‘It would have been enough for us’

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The Bible Says What? ‘It would have been enough for us’

Senior Reform rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner takes a controversial topic from Jewish texts and looks at progressive response

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner

“Dayenu!” We sing, “it would have been enough for us!” But really, would it? 

Dayenu is an iconic component of the seder – listing the many miracles of the story of the exodus from Egypt and saying if we had only had a few of them, it would have been enough. Are we being honest? One verse says that if the sea had been split, but the ChildrenofIsraelhadnotbeentaken through on dry land, that would have been enough for us. How could it be, though, when it would have left our ancestors to be re-captured by the oncoming Egyptian army at best, or killed at worst?

Is this entire central song of our  Pesach tradition nonsense? Sometimes we don’t get everything we need in life. We have to make do with what life sends our way. This year for Pesach, we have had to make do with seeing those we hold dear through screens rather than gathering together to celebrate. It is nice to celebrate when everything goes exactly to plan, but what is more important is what we do when it doesn’t. 

Yes, Pesach wouldn’t be quite the same had we really only had some of those miracles as part of the story. We look around, though, and say that even when not everything goes our way, the blessings we do have would be enough for us to make thingswork.Thoughwemaynotbe fully liberated from the challenges in our life, the blessings we do have will allow us to bear our hardships. We manage to make something worth celebrating anyway. 

This year more than any in a generation, we haven’t spent this festival feeling fully liberated. Yet, the creativty of the Jewish world is flourishing. We can’t have it all, but will ensure what we have is enough. 

Laura Janner-Klausner is a senior rabbi at the Movement for Reform Judaism 

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