Friday, April 7, 2017

Dvar Torah for Pesach 5777-2017

      On Seder night, we will once again read through the Hagadah and the story of the Jewish People leaving slavery in Mitzrayim. While different parts of the Hagadah tend to draw more focus than others, every paragraph contains enough commentary to capture your interest for the entire holiday. In general, I try to focus on a different part of the Hagadah every year. This year we will discuss the song of Dayeinu.
       One of the highlights of the Seder for many people is the song “Dayeinu”. It contains fourteen stanzas, each one highlighting a different thing that Hashem did for us from our time in Mitzrayim until our arrival in Eretz Yisrael and the building of the Beis Hamikdash, officially ending our exile. After listing each act of Hashem, we say that each act alone would have been enough for us to receive; anything more would have been gravy. The fact that Hashem actually did do each subsequent act for us is a show of His kindness towards us.
       Even though it makes for a great song, the format of it is very strange. Dayeinu takes each event by itself, says that we would have been satisfied with that event alone, then immediately lists the subsequent one and says we would have been satisfied with only that one! The very next paragraph relists the same events and adds that the fact that Hashem ended up doing each additional act for us shows how much we owe Him. This seems like a much more productive and straightforward approach to use. Why doesn’t the Hagadah write only the second paragraph, especially when it seems to make Dayeinu unnecessary? What do we gain from the format of Dayeinu?
       Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, ZT”L, explains that there is an important idea we learn out from the concept of Dayeinu. Not only did each event listed in the song provide us with a new degree of freedom, it also gave us an increased level of spirituality. Even when some items on the list seem useless by themselves, like arriving at Har Sinai without receiving the Torah, there is a benefit to experiencing each individual event. What is that benefit?
       There are some people who reach a certain level of spirituality, of understanding and experiencing Hashem and His kindness towards us, and are completely satisfied. After a certain point, they see no reason to move forward. The song of Dayeinu teaches us that this is not true. While it may have truly been enough for Hashem to take us out of slavery without punishing the Egyptians, we cannot think like this. We must continue to the next stanza and the next stanza, and show that we are committed to growth in spirituality and appreciate all the kindnesses we get from Hashem as they lead us to a greater exposure to Him. We cannot stand still in our pursuit of spirituality even though where we are holding may be more than we ever imagined. The next paragraph then comes in and explains the message clearly; that each kindness that was done was appreciated and is something we need to thank Hashem for every chance we get since it was underserved. That is the lesson of Dayeinu.
       As we celebrate our freedom, we have to understand what it means to be free, what opportunities have been formed because of that freedom. One of those opportunities is the ability to experience Hashem in all His greatness. How can we let any sort of chance slip through our fingers! May we take the lesson of Dayeinu into the Seder and through the entire holiday of Pesach.

Chag Kosher V’Sameach!


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