Dayeinu — Enough Already!

Dayeinu — Enough Already!

Elliott batTzedek

In traditional haggadot, Dayeinu (meaning “it would have been sufficient”) expresses gratitude for all that was done for our people from the time we fled Mitzrayim until the Temple was built in Israel — that is, as we moved from slavery through the wilderness to the promised homeland.

The entire concept of “enough” is alien to our current capitalist empire, which is built on having more than anyone could ever need — “more” that is made by theft from the natural world, from poorer nations and oppressed people, and from future generations.

At this seder, we recite this new dayeinu, to help us remember there is a different way to live within the world:

If we had enough clothes to wear, and not closets and drawers and bins of extra — dayeinu

If we had enough food to eat and did not discard billions of tons of food — dayeinu

If we had safe, warm, homes and did not build ever more just for the sake of building —  dayeinu

If our food was grown with respect for the earth, processed by people paid living wages, and purchased from markets that support our communities — dayeinu

If we could purchase necessary items that were made to last, by people paid fair wages, and if repairing them did not cost more  than buying replacements — dayeinu

If our happiness came from what we did, not what we bought — dayeinu

If time spent dreaming, resting, connecting and creating was understood as holy, not wasteful — dayeinu

If a successful life was measured by restoring and giving, not taking and hoarding — dayeinu

Illustration note – from a collection at the Bodleian library. This lovely moment from an illustrated haggadah shows us the answer to the Talmudic question of what to do if a mouse brings a bread crumb into your house during Pesach:

In some medieval miniatures of Seder feast, feline creatures appear under the table at the feet of the celebrating family.

What do these animals do at such an occasion?

The Pesahim tractate of the Babylonian Talmud discusses at length what to do if a mouse runs into the searched house with a bread crumb in its mouth (bPes 10b). The question is if the house has to be searched again or not.

In the Second Nuremberg Haggadah, the cat itself comments on its task: “Behold, I bite the mouse, lest he eat the grain” (הנני נושך בעכבר פן יאכל את הבר). Another image on the same folio depicts a man pouring the content of a bowl into a big vessel. The caption says: “One hides the leaven and the grain, lest the mouse drag it away.” Thus it seems that cats are “invited” to catch mice which might bring in some leavened bread crumbs to the searched and already ritually clean house.