I was tucking in my toddler to bed today, and she wanted her giant stuffed penguin. Then she wanted her water. Then she wanted a particular book. It went on and on. Finally I told her I was all done finding things for her, and she started to cry. I played a brief game with her, sort of like peek-a-boo, that got her laughing again. And then it was time for me to leave, and.. she started to scream again.
As I finally left the room, I found myself thinking grumpily, “What more do you want? I got your penguin, your water, you have tons of books, you even have a toy crib inside *your* crib to put your precious penguin to bed in! You have everything you need, but you always want something more!”
This really got me thinking, because it’s the Passover season and all, about God and our demands on him. I can just imagine him looking down on us and saying, “I gave you a house. I gave you a car. I gave you a husband. I gave you kids. And now you’re grumpy because you have too much laundry to do??? You always want something more!” We really are all Israelites in our hearts, aren’t we?
Maybe this Passover and Easter season, we should be saying, “Dayenu!” For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jewish Passover, “Dayenu” is a song of thanks for all the things that God has given us. The song goes something like, “If you had brought us out of Egypt, but not executed judgment against the Egyptians, *it would have been enough*. If you had executed judgment against the Egyptians but not executed judgment against their gods, *it would have been enough*. If you had executed judgment against their gods but not slain their first-born, *it would have been enough*.” And it goes on and on. “It would have been enough” or “it would have sufficed” is “dayenu” in Hebrew.
In other words, God didn’t just perform a single miracle to save us from bondage in Egypt. He performed a whole series of miracles and actions of grace. Any one of those would have been enough, would have shown us that God loved us, would have left us better off than we had been. But he didn’t just perform one, or two. He performed them over and over again, from rescuing us from slavery, parting the Red Sea so that we could cross in safety, giving us the Torah, and leading us to the Land of Israel. We complained and whined every step of the way about all the things that God *wasn’t* doing for us, or wasn’t doing the way we expected Him to. But all the while, we should have been singing, “Dayenu.” “It would have sufficed.”