Kenneth Cohen

Dayeinu – Enough Entitlement

Every year we try to emphasize the fact that the children are the most important people at the Seder. Many of the unusual customs are meant to keep the children involved.

We recline while eating Matza and drinking the four cups. We dip the Karpas into salt water. We wash our hands the first time without a blessing. We remove drops of wine when listing the Ten Plagues. And the children learn negotiating skills for the return of the missing Afikoman.

But the most important part of the Seder for everyone, is telling the Pesach story. We need to connect with our history and appreciate how special it is, to be part of the Jewish people.

I thought of a particularly relevant message, when we sing the classic “Dayenu” song. As we recount all of the specific kindnesses shown by Hashem to the Jewish people, we say “Dayenu,” it would have been enough.

This is the perfect time to emphatically emphasize that G-d owes us nothing. Everything He does for us is not because we deserve it. It is undeserved Chessed on His part.

We must similarly remind ourselves that nobody owes us anything. Dayenu is teaching us how wrong it is to feel a sense of entitlement. It is a very ugly trait to ever think that anyone owes them anything.

This is a healthy way of interacting with the world. Instead of feeling wronged by the world, it is far better to feel grateful for anything done on our behalf. And it is important to remember that any gift given to us, even if it is from a relative, is really from Hashem.

If all present at our Seder, come away with this message, we will have gained our freedom. We become dependent on G-d, and not man. This is the healthy way to look at things. The Seder is meant to uplift us. Appreciating all that we have, and leaving the sense of entitlement, is a good way to begin our spiritual climb.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at
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