If God had made judgments against the Egyptians, and did not split the sea for us, it would have been enough.

Hmm, enraging the Egyptians and not giving us a way out of their land would most probably NOT have been enough!

But the whole song of Dayenu is very consistent with the overall themes of Pesach: journey. Transition. Process. This is borne out by the choice of Torah text that becomes the centerpiece of the seder: Arami Oved Avi, My Father was a Wandering Aramean, or, as the Midrash in the Haggadah interprets it, An Aramean Tried to Destroy my Father (Devarim/Deuteronomy 26:5-8):

My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt, and sojourned there in meager numbers. And there, he became a great, populous, and mighty nation. The Egyptians were cruel to us and oppressed us, and they burdened us with hard labor. We cried out to the Eternal, the God of our ancestors, and The Eternal heard our voice, and saw our suffering and our labor and our oppression. And the Eternal took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great terror, and with signs, and with wonders.

It is very telling that the Haggadah eliminates the following verse:

And He brought us to this place (the Land of Israel), and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

On Pesach, we are not landed. We eat matzah, the bread of journeying, a bread that is baked quickly, with no time to rise. Dayenu is a series of expressions of gratitude, “it would have been enough for us,” for things that in no practical way could ever possibly have been enough. Arami Oved Avi, as presented by the Haggadah does not have us settled in our land, but in the process of leaving slavery. On Pesach, we are wandering Jews, as our father, Jacob, was a wandering Aramean.

It is also telling that the other holiday among the shalosh regalim, the three pilgrimage holidays, that is long enough to have a chol hamoed, a time in the holiday during which some amount of work is permitted, is Sukkot: a commemoration of wandering in the desert, when we live in temporary dwellings.

There is a time to find our homes in transition. We are asked to root ourselves, both communally and spiritually, in rootlessness, in wandering, in process and journey. To find God, we must avoid tangible signs and representations of a deity. We do not have a god of unmoving, solid rock. We are committed to the indescribable, invisible, creative force of being itself. Our people and our religion began with Abraham leaving home, not settling. We need to take comfort in, and root ourselves in, the fact of our incompleteness.

“Even if we were all wise, all scholars, all learned in the Torah, we would still have an obligation to retell the story of the Exodus.” There is no point at which we have acquired that story, and learned it, or anything else, completely. We will never have “arrived.” That is why if God had taken us out of Egypt, but not done anything for us afterwards, it would have been enough.

Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Kasher VeSameach!

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