Compiled by Dina Fraenkel

During the Pesach Seder, we recite a series of passages commonly referred to as “Dayenu.” The passages begin with the declaration: “How many are the Good Things that the almighty has showered upon us!” and continues to enumerate 14 kindnesses that Hashem showed the Jewish people. at the end of each declaration, we say, “Dayenu – it would have been enough!”

The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, used to stop often during the recital of the Haggadah at his Pesach Seder in order to offer explanations on the different passages, and especially to share Chassidic insights. When he came to the “Dayenu,” the Previous Rebbe made a point to read through the entire section without stopping. He elaborated on the passages either before beginning “How many are the Good Things…” or after finishing all 14 kindnesses.

What was the Previous Rebbe trying to show by not interrupting the “Dayenu” with explanations?

The Baal Shem Tov often shared a story that can lead us to an answer for our question.

“There was a King who possessed a beautiful palace that had many chambers, one within the other. Numerous guards prevented people from entering or leaving without the King’s permission.”

“Among those who desired to enter the King’s inner chamber, there were different types of people. One group, of the lower-classes, were immediately terrified by the King’s guards and fled from them. They are not the ones whom G-d desires.”

“A second group did not fear the outer guards, because they had schemed to bribe the guards with money – like those who give a coin to charity before prayer. They get past the guards, but something else holds them back from reaching the inner chamber and seeing the King’s face. When they enter the palace and see the King’s private collections…they get such pleasure from feasting their eyes that they lose themselves there, forfeiting the great opportunity to see the King himself, in all his glory.”

“The most outstanding group was not concerned with their own pleasures, and desired only to see the King in his inner chamber. So even when their eyes feasted on all the magnificent things…it was totally insignificant to them in the face of their will and desire to see the glory of the King himself.” 1

Often, we get stuck on a certain level of Torah observance, like the second group in the Baal Shem Tov’s story, and do not bring the idea of a full connection with Hashem to fruition. At some point, we say, “Dayenu! This is enough for me! I’ve come a long way; I’ve overcome so many hurdles…to reach where I am today. I have truly “left Egypt” in the sense that spirituality is meaningful for me in everyday life. But I already have enough…inspiration from my Judaism, so I’m reluctant [to seek]…a higher level…”

This reaction is a very natural one, for all of us have natural limitations and growth spurts (physical or spiritual) that can be very tiring! But, the Baal Shem Tov teaches that even when we feel we are at our limit, we can dig a little deeper into ourselves and find the strength and courage to take the next step.

By reciting the full “Dayenu” without interruption, the Previous Rebbe was telling us not to stop, even when we feel like screaming “Dayenu” and taking a break from spiritual growth. Even when we are content with where we are holding, we can always reach higher because Hashem created us to always desire to be closer to Him.

This year, as we recite the “Dayenu” at our Pesach Sedarim, may each of us tap into our inner strength and fight the urge to say “Dayenu” in our own journey of growth and attachment to Hashem. In the merit o f our renewed energy and commitment to reaching higher, may Hashem respond with the ultimate “Good Thing,” the final Redemption and the reunification of all Jews with Hashem through the immediate coming of Moshiach.

1: Ohr ha-Meir, Parshas Vayishlach