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Sharona Margolin Halickman

Additions to ‘Dayenu’

Photo Courtesy Sharona Halickman

At the end of Parshat Shmini we learn about the types of animals which are permitted and forbidden to eat. We are told in Vayikra 11:43-45:

Do not make yourselves abominable by means of any teeming thing; do not contaminate yourselves through them lest you become contaminated through them. For I am HaShem, your God- you are to sanctify yourselves and you shall be holy, for I am holy; and you shall not contaminate yourselves through any teeming thing that creeps on the earth. For I am HaShem Who elevates you from the land of Egypt to be a God unto you; you shall be holy, for I am holy.

Rashi comments: I elevated you from Egypt on condition that you should accept My commandments.

Rashi also quotes the Talmud, Bava Metzia 61b: In all other places it is written, “I brought you forth”, and here it is written “Who elevates you” — in reference to this it was taught in the school of Rabbi Yishmael: If I had brought up Israel from Egypt only to effect this one thing — that they do not defile themselves by reptiles as do the other peoples, that should be sufficient for them and it should be regarded by them as an elevation for themselves — this is what is implied in the expression used here: Maaleh- I raised you above the people of the land of Egypt.

This sounds like the song “Dayenu”, “It would have been enough”, that we sing at the Passover seder.

In honor of Rabbi Yishmel, we could add a new stanza to “Dayenu”:

If You only elevated us from Egypt and brought us into Israel to keep us away from non-kosher food, it would have been enough!

Rav Shimshon Rephael Hirsch explains that the redemption from Egypt elevated us from the low moral values of the Egyptians. Moral freedom is the reason for why national freedom exists.

In honor of Rav Hirsch, we could add another stanza:

If You only elevated us from Egypt so that we could be on a higher moral level in Israel, it would have been enough!

This Pesach we all have one more additional stanza on our minds:

If You can help us win the war against our enemies that surround us and return all of our hostages it will be enough!

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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