“In every generation we should see ourselves as if we had just come forth from Egypt.”
Rabbi Lee Diamond
We all love the song Dayanu. However I have always been troubled by the meaning of the words. Why should we be happy if we had only gotten to the shores of the Red Sea and not crossed it? Why should we be satisfied standing before Mt. Sinai and not receiving the Torah? What is the value of wandering in the desert for 40 years and not entering Eretz Israel? None of these achievements have value without completion. Yet we say Dayeynu: “that would have been enough.”
Perhaps the meaning is to be humble and appreciative all of God’s efforts on our behalf? Perhaps this poem comes to teach us to see the good and the blessing in every act of God and of man. Perhaps these words come to teach us not to complain about what we didn’t receive and to appreciate the miracles that were given us.
To live the moment; to live the exodus; to live the moment of Sinai; to appreciate the exodus from Aushwitz is what we are called upon to do. But no less significant than exodus from Egypt or the moment of Sinai is the greatest miracle of our time: The fulfillment of the dream of Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel. Medinat Yisrael.
How short our memories! It is so easy to take things for granted; to forget and to have our vision blurred and even blinded.
Just as we are commanded to relive the Exodus so that we include it our personal identity, so too is it crucial for us to enter into the miracle of Statehood and to include it into our personal Jewish identity.
Just as at the Red Sea, there were those who preferred to return to Egypt; Just as at Sinai many of us danced before a Golden Calf; so too is the miracle of Israel, imperfect. To judge the Exodus by its blemishes or to judge Sinai by those who preferred an idol is to misjudge and miss the moment. To judge the miracle of Israel and Zionism by its many challenges is to miss the moment and blind one self to the miracle which is happening daily in our view.
Israel needs to be lived by all Jews; Israel needs to be appreciated for what it has achieved in our history for all Jews—right, left and center whether in the Diaspora or in Israel. Israel needs to be celebrated by all Jews no less than the miracle of Exodus or the Giving of the Torah. This is required for the sake of Israel but even more so for our own Jewish souls and identity.
Just as the Exodus changed Jewish destiny for all times, so too does the State of Israel change us and the destiny of Jews for all time.
There is certainly place for self examination and improvement and things can, should and must improve, but we must learn to say: Dayeynu i.e. let’s appreciate the miracle for what it was; what it is and what it can be for all Jews in every generation.
In the closing words of the Hagada we declare: Next Year in Jerusalem. Let’s make this declaration this year with a full heart.
We look forward to living and reliving the miracle with you this year!
Rabbi Lee Diamond and Bob Cook
Israel Celebration Tours