• News/Talk
  • Music
  • Entertainment

'Enough Enough Dayenu Enough'

Judith Sloan

Larger view
Haggadeh cover
(Warren Lehrer)
View the Slideshow

Enough Enough Dayenu Enough

Each year at Passover,
I think about,
argue about,
dream about
and question this question of dayenu.
Enough. Dayenu.
I take down the silver plated Haggadah
given to me by my father when I was a little girl.
This Haggadah -- one of the few things I have left of him.
I inherited the questioning,
the dark eyes,
the dark hair,
dark moods.

I look through this Haggadah,
a marriage of text and image
the pages designed like the pages of the Talmud,
taken from the Talmud.
Arguments on two page spreads in four colors.

I look at dayenu, dayenu, dayenu.
What does it mean?

In this time
in the Middle East?
In this time
in the USA?
Dayenu, dayenu, dayenu die die hey, nu, nu, nu?

In Deuteronomy it says:
"With an outstretched arm, with a mighty hand, with great terribleness; this means the
manifestation of the Divine Presence; God sent his wrath, indignation, trouble, sending evil
angels, ten plagues. God took Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by
signs, and by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm and by great terrors,
according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt."
God did that for me in Egypt?
I read that over and over as a little girl,
God did that for me? Each year wondering what would have been enough.
Why boils, why locusts, (you don't hear about locusts these days),
why blood, why frogs, why wild beasts?
Couldn't it have been enough to part the sea.
Why did God have to slay the first born of every Egyptian?
(I thought that was the die in dayenu).
Wouldn't it have been enough to just go after the Pharaoh?
To be free from slavery, from enslaving, would that be enough?
What's enough?
When is it enough?
Who is it enough for?
enough land,
enough water,
enough work,
enough recognition,
enough joy,
enough love,
enough pleasure,
enough of my own delusions?
When is it enough?
And each year at the Passover table I promise myself that I won't eat too much --
"Young lady don't you think you've had enough?"

Is there enough to go around?
Is my freedom dependent on your loss?
The argument erupts every year at the Seder.
An eighty-year-old is criticizing the state of Israel;
Israel should stop dehumanizing the Palestinians.
A sixty-year-old is defending Israel;
what about Hamas, they'll stop at nothing;
they call for the murder of Jews everywhere.
The twenty-year-old agrees with the eighty-year- old.
It's Israel's responsibility too.
The forty-year-old is trying to negotiate at the table.
The sixty-year-old cannot see Palestinians as human -- they are the enemy.
But who is going to stop the path of mutual homicide -- suicide?

I studied with a Rabbi once who said,
"To see your enemy as human is truly a painful thing.
You hate them, they hate you, how can you look them in eye?"

If I come to you my enemy
with an outstretched arm, will you blow it off?
Isn't all life sacred? Dayenu, dayenu dayenu.
Why not with an outstretched arm,
with a great joy,
with compassion, with wonders.
Could God do this for us?
Why not a miracle now?
Where is the miracle now?
I want a miracle now.
If only we could beat our swords into plowshares, and share it, share it -- all of it.
This planet,
in this lifetime,
this land,
this country,
this money,
this city, this neighborhood, this moment.

With an outstretched arm, with a bold heart, with wonders, with joy, who can do this?
Can we do this?
Will it be enough?


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By HazeL Singer

    From Seattle, WA, 04/23/2008

    I so enjoyed listening to this poem/memoir/commentary. It was thoughtful and thought-provoking. The more I thought about the words, the more I wondered that there had not been such a dissection of the word 'dayenu' before...I especially loved the separation out of 'nu'...it all reminded me of my grandfather and father. Thank you.

  • Post a Comment: Please be civil, brief and relevant.

    Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. All comments are moderated. Weekend America reserves the right to edit any comments on this site and to read them on the air if they are extra-interesting. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting.

      Form is no longer active


    You must be 13 or over to submit information to American Public Media. The information entered into this form will not be used to send unsolicited email and will not be sold to a third party. For more information see Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Download Weekend America

Weekend Weather

From the January 31 broadcast

Support American Public Media with your Amazon.com purchases
Search Amazon.com:
 ©2015 American Public Media