Every Passover we sing a beautiful song towards the end of the Seder. The refrain of the song is “Dayenu”, which means “it would be enough for us”. The song enumerates the great miracles performed for the Jewish people from the Exodus until their entrance into the Land of Israel and after each one proclaims “Dayenu”. For example, “If God had just taken us out of Egypt but not split the sea, that would have been enough for us”.
The obvious question regarding “Dayenu” is, would it really have been enough? Would it have been enough if God took us out of Egypt but did not split the sea or if God had split the sea but had not brought us to Mt. Sinai or given us the Torah etc.? For example, if you gave me a brand new car but didn’t give me the keys, would that be enough? Of course not! Then what does this song really mean?
The Dayenu is a love song written by the Jewish people to God, their beloved. In fact, most of the psalms and prayers that we recite can be viewed as love songs and poems to a beloved. This is also why it is the custom of many to recite the Song of Songs, the ultimate love song between God and the Jewish People, after the Seder.
When a person is in love with someone, every moment spent with their beloved is precious to them. Of course they would rather have that moment last a lifetime, yet they are willing to accept even just a moment to be with them. Every moment with them is so precious that it stands alone in importance regardless of what the next moment might bring.
The Jewish People are so in love with God that every moment in His presence is precious to them. Although we hope and yearn for the full redemption we still cherish and treasure every step towards that goal. Although we continue to strive for more we rejoice in every moment of love that God grants us.
This is the true meaning of Dayenu.
With this new understanding of Dayenu we can reach a more meaningful understanding of the entire Seder and possibly the entire Torah. If our relationship with God is comparable to a relationship between lovers then every mitzvah that we perform is really an act of love. All love relationships have low points, when we feel distant from, or apathetic towards, our lover, but true love overcomes these downswings and remains as strong as ever. So too does our relationship with God remain forever strong even if we sometimes feel distant and “unloved”.