2016-06-30
One of the most beloved elements of the Passover seder is the song "Dayenu"--"It would have been sufficient." Recently, the liturgy and format of the Passover Haggadah--the book containing the rituals of the seder and the narrative of the Exodus from Egypt--have been adapted for a variety of causes. The following is a comparison of how "Dayenu" is used in a number of those adaptations:

Traditional Holocaust Survivor Feminist
"Evolving Consciousness" Mideast Peace
"Gates of Freedom" Tibetan Freedom
Twelve Step Programs

Traditional Haggadah

How many levels of favors has the Omnipresent One bestowed upon us:

If He had brought us out from Egypt, and had not carried out judgments against them--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!

If He had carried out judgments against them, and not against their idols--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had destroyed their idols, and had not smitten their firstborn--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had smitten their firstborn, and had not given us their wealth--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had given us their wealth, and had not split the sea for us--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had split the sea for us, and had not taken us through it on dry land--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had taken us through the sea on dry land, and had not drowned our oppressors in it--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had drowned our oppressors in it, and had not supplied our needs in the desert for 40 years--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had supplied our needs in the desert for 40 years, and had not fed us the manna--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had fed us the manna, and had not given us the Shabbat--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had given us the Shabbat, and had not brought us before Mount Sinai--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had brought us before Mount Sinai, and had not given us the Torah--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had given us the Torah, and had not brought us into the land of Israel--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
If He had brought us into the land of Israel, and had not built for us the Beit Habechirah (Chosen House; the Beit Hamikdash)--Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!

Read, download, or print this entire Haggadah.

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"The Survivor's Haggadah"

Created by Holocaust survivors in the waning days of the Holocaust. (Copyright 2000, Jewish Publication Society)

We would have been content.

Had He scattered us among the nations but had not given us the First Crusade, we would have been content.
Had He given us the First Crusade but not the Second, we would have been content.
Had He given us the Second Crusade but not the Blood Libel, we would have been content.
Had He given us the Blood Libel but not the persecutions of the Third Crusade, we would have been content.
Had He given us the persecutions of the Third Crusade but not the Badge of Shame, we would have been content.
Had He given us the Badge of Shame but not the persecutions of the Black Plague, we would have been content.
Had He given us the persecutions of the Black Plague but not the Inquisition, we would have been content.
Had He given us the Inquisition but not the pogroms of 1648-49, we would have been content.
Had He given us the pogroms of 1648-49 but not the slaughter of 1919 in Ukraine, we would have been content.
Had He given us the slaughter in Ukraine but not Hitler, we would have been content.
Had He given us Hitler but no ghettos, we would have been content.
Had He given us ghettos but no gas chambers and crematoria, we would have been content.
Had He given us gas chambers and crematoria but our wives and children had not been tortured, we would have been content.
Had our wives and children been tortured but we had not been forced into hard bondage, we would have been content.
Had we been forced into hard bondage but not been made to die of hunger, we would have been content.
Had we been made to die of hunger but not of disease and torture, we would have been content.

All the more so, since all these have befallen us, we must make Aliyah [move to the Holy Land], even if illegally, wipe out the Galut [exile], build the chosen land, and make a home for ourselves and our children for eternity.

Buy "A Survivor's Haggadah."

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"The Dancing With Miriam Haggadah: A Jewish Women's Celebration of Passover"

If we had been allowed to choose our destinies and mates as adults, and not been married off as children, Dayenu.
If we had been granted full civil status in laws, and not been considered second-class citizens, Dayenu.
If our stories and prayers had been written down and passed on, and not lost to invisibility, Dayenu.
If we had been honored for our roles as mothers and wives, carried out with self-sacrificing love, and not denigrated for our emotions, Dayenu.
If we had been allowed to participate in the richness of our own culture, instead of being denied freedom and education, Dayenu.
If we had been granted the vote as our right, and not had to die for it, Dayenu.
When we can pray as Jewish women where and how we choose, and not be seen as traitors to our history, it will be enough.
When we are legally equal partners in Jewish marriage and divorce, it will be enough.
When we are able to control our own bodies without having to plead or justify our cause, it will be enough.
When we are allowed to choose our own destinies and mates, without ridicule, harassment, or violence, it will be enough.
When we can walk the streets and dwell in our own homes in safety and without fear, it will be enough.
When the earth and all who dwell here shall thrive in peace, joy, and freedom, it will be enough.

Buy "The Dancing With Miriam Haggadah."

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"The Santa Cruz Haggadah: A Passover Haggadah and Coloring Book for the Evolving Consciousness"

If we could make it a practice to spend time being without ourselves, honest about the truths of our lives, getting clear about what we want to learn or work on. Dayenu.
If we could give and receive all of the intimacy, affection, support, nurturance, and sex we need on an ongoing basis, to and from appropriate sources. Dayenu.
If we could have fulfilling work, exciting play, creative endeavors, and no boredom. Dayenu.
If the children of the world could receive the good-enough parenting, schooling, and feeding that would allow them to grow into healthy and stable adults. Dayenu.
If the fears of ill health, loneliness, and poverty could be dispelled so that aging would be seen as part of the process of living as opposed to being something to be feared. Dayenu.
If the commitment to lifetime learning, growth, risk taking, and expanded consciousness could become intense enough to allow for a critical mass of awakened, concerned, and fully alive human beings to once again walk the planet at the same time. Dayenu.
If we could then see Tikkun Olam, universal healing, in our lifetimes. Dayenu.
If we could go out into the world and share the joyous message of the Haggadah and the redemption and the way we feel tonight celebrating Passover together. Dayenu. Dayenu.

Buy the "Santa Cruz Haggadah"
or "The Santa Cruz Haggadah--Leader's Edition.

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"A Seder for the Children of Abraham" (Dedicated to Mideast Peace)

If only there had not been mistrust: OyLanu.
If only there had not been a Holocaust: OyLanu.
If only there had not been so many soldiers killed: OyLanu.
If only there had not been so many made homeless: OyLanu.
If only there had not been so many massacres: OyLanu.
If only there had not been so many terrorist attacks: OyLanu.
If only there had not been so many bombings: OyLanu.
If only so many children had not died: OyLanu.

If only both peoples would renounce violence: Dayenu.
If only both peoples would talk to one another: Dayenu.
If only both peoples would recognize each other's rights: Dayenu.
If only they would appreciate each other's culture: Dayenu.
If only they would recognize their common origin and destiny: Dayenu.
If only the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael could live face to face: Dayenu.
If only they could beat their swords into plowshares: Dayenu.
If only both people could share the land: Dayenu.
There are possibilities for peace. The rest of the seder will explore them.

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"The Gates of Freedom Haggadah"

Had we been brought out of Egypt and not been supported in the wilderness, it would have been enough.
Had we been supported in the wilderness and not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough.
Had we been given the Sabbath and not been given the Torah, it would have been enough.
Had we been given the Torah and not been brought to the land of Israel, it would have been enough.
Had we been brought to the land of Israel and not been sent the prophets, it would have been enough.
Had we been sent the prophets and not been called to be a light to the nations, it would have been enough.
Had we been called to be a light to the nations and not been sustained wherever we have dwelt, it would have been enough.
Had we been sustained wherever we have dwelt and not been returned to the land of our ancestors, it would have been enough.
Had we been returned to the land of our ancestors and not been summoned to perfect this world, it would have been enough.

If we were delivered from bondage while others remained enslaved, could we say "Dayenu"?
If we could be at peace while others died in wars, could we say "Dayenu"?
If we were born to prosper while others were born to weep, could we say "Dayenu"?
If we alone where chosen while others were forgotten, could we say "Dayenu"?
And if we have enough to eat while others starve, can we say "Dayenu"?
And if our houses are safe while others live in fear, can we say "Dayenu"?
And if we have a land to live on while others are far from home, can we say "Dayenu"?

Buy the "Gates of Freedom Haggadah."

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"Next Year in Lhasa: Seders for Tibet"

After a traditional rendition of "Dayenus, this Haggadah adds the following:
Reader: What does this mean, "It would have been enough?" Surely no single of these would have been enough. It means to celebrate each step toward freedom as if it were enough, then to start out on the next step. It means that if we reject each step because it is not the whole liberation, we will never be able to achieve the whole liberation. It means to sing each verse as if it were the whole song--and then to sing the next verse!

Reader: It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too. I can feel the sufferings of millions, and yet if I look up into the heavens, I think it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out. (Anne Frank, "The Diary of Anne Frank")

Read the "Seders for Tibet" Haggadah online.

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"The Anonymous Haggadah" (for Twelve Step programs)

Dayenu does not mean it would have been enough. Rather, it would have been more than we deserved.

If we count our blessings, here we find 15 reasons for being grateful.

1. He brought us out of Egypt. Obviously our first gratitude is for the fact that we are no longer trapped, enslaved to substances and habits. There could be no growth so long as we were in Egypt.

2. It does not say He judged them, rather, He did judgments among them. The word "did," asa, refers to the most tangible form of creativity, the ultimate unfolding of Hashem's (God's) plans. Hashem is not judgmental simply for its own sake. His judgments are very creative. He did it for us, in order to show us the nature of our addiction and the power of the lie in which we lived. Hashem exposed both the Egyptians and their gods.

3. He "did" their gods. The creativity we refer to is undoubtedly the humor and playfulness in the humiliation of the Egyptian gods.

4. He killed their firstborn. This is the culmination of the first lesson. Slavery means death. Addiction means death. The worship of un-gods means death. Let this be clear and unequivocal.


5. He gave us their money. It does not say gave us their wealth, rather their money. The dollar, a medium of exchange, is a piece of green paper of little value. But it represents agreement amongst people to maintain a monetary system and all the cultural ramifications it carries. For the system to be successful, a stable balance of forces must exist in the marketplace.

The whole structure of economics that worked so well for the Egyptians now came to work for us. It was a sane, peaceful, rewarding system. The word chosen here to describe money, mammon, is unusual in this context. One might have expected the word keseph, silver, to be used. Mammon does not appear in the story of the Exodus, whereas keseph, silver, is mentioned often. We did not have to go through the hardship of developing our own through scarciity and hardship and want. We didn't need any more upheavals in our lives concerning mundane things. Poverty makes recovery difficult. We had enough on our hands without skyrocketing inflation and a forced return to the barter system.

6. He split the sea for us. We might have had to fight a pitched battle with them the way we did weeks later with the Amalekites. The Egyptians might have found themselves drawn away to fight elsewhere against marauders, or any number of other possibilities. Instead we were taught to surrender and turn our will over to Hashem. That was good for us.

7. We passed through it on dry land. We are not merely remarking that Hashem took care of details. When the Red Sea split and we passed through it, we did not walk through mud and swamp. Everything was as dry as a bone and the walk was comfortable. We are really pointing out that Hashem is loving and caring. The un-gods we served in Egypt were many things, none of them loving and caring or anticipating of our needs.

8. He drowned our oppressors in it. Apparently it was very important to us to see the Egyptians destroyed. Perhaps we were afraid that so long as they could chase us, they were incapable of letting go, and we would have to battle endlessly with them. Perhaps we ourselves could never let go until we saw them utterly defeated. Whatever the reason, Hashem did drown them all in the sea.

9. He took care of our needs. Forty years in the wilderness. Protected us from sun and wind, snow and rain, snakes and scorpions. We were surrounded by "Clouds of Glory" and never really lacked material things. We had our needs met.

10. He fed us manna. This was not just food. This was an entirely new creation. A whole new species of long molecule, this was not some growth or desert cacti. The manna gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "living by the word of Hashem."

11. He gave us the Shabbos. Shabbos is priceless. It is not a "Sabbath," or day of rest. Only those who live it know what it feels like. To describe it is fruitless. A marble statue has as much resemblance to a real person as the common notion has to the true meaning of Shabbos. It is the pearl of Hashem's treasury.

12. He brought us close to Mount Sinai. This in itself was an enormous step for us. We became willing to have all our defects of character removed. We were willing to go to any lengths to do Hashem's will. We were entirely ready. What higher spiritual peaks could we possibly have aimed for? We weren't just present at Mount Sinai, we were close.

13. He gave us the Torah. Not merely a jewel out of His treasury, Hashem gave us the whole treasury.

14. He entered us into the Land of Israel.

15. Built us the "Chosen House" (Temple) to atone for our sins. Who mentioned sins? Sin is implicit in the way we are. We aren't angels. We aren't expected to get it right the first time or even the second time. We are going to keep failing. What matters is progress, not perfection. The Hebrew words chosen here to mean Temple are Bais Habechira, literally translated as "House of Choice." An allusion to the end product of the Exodus.

We are no longer slaves because we have a choice. The real distinction between the using addict and the recovering addict is the power of choice. And so our gratitude list ends with thanks for the gift of what is more commonly referred to as free will, freedom to choose.

Read the "Anonymous Haggadah" online.

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