"If He had brought us out of Egypt, and not
made us shlep
Excerpted from the Deluxe Edition of the Kvetcher's Haggadah, brought to you by Vexwell House:
"If He had brought us out of Egypt, and not made us shlep all their wealth - it would have been bad enough.
If He had made us shlep all their wealth, and had not frightened us at the sea - it would have been bad enough.
If He had frightened us at the sea, and not made us travel in the desert for 40 years - it would have been bad enough.
If He had made us travel in the desert for 40 years, and not made us eat that inedible manna - it would have been bad enough."
Of course, we know that the Dayeinu and the rest of the Passover Haggadah doesn't even closely resemble the above imaginary text. Instead, it is replete with statements thanking Hashem for all the miracles that He did for the generation of the exodus and subsequent ones, including the following passage borrowed from the Shabbat morning services:
"Were our mouth as full of song as the sea, and our tongue as full of joyous song as its multitude of waves, and our lips as full of praise as the breadth of the heavens, and our eyes as brilliant as the sun and the moon, and our hands as outspread as eagles of the sky and our feet as swift as hinds - we still could not thank You sufficiently for even one of the thousands and myriad of favors that You performed for our ancestors and for us."
In Temple times, giving thanks to Hashem was expressed by bringing a thanksgiving offering, the korban todah, as delineated in this week's Torah portion. There are two interesting laws that pertained to the offering: First, together with the offering, the person brought 40 loaves of bread and matzah. Four were given to the Kohanim (priests) and the other 36 were his to eat. Second, the offering and loaves could only be eaten on the day that the offering was brought and on the following night.
Unless the person bringing the offering had an Epicurean appetite, there was no feasible way for him to consume such a large amount within a matter of several hours. In order to answer this anomaly, we need to know a third law regarding the thanksgiving offering: Anyone who was ritually pure, even complete strangers, could partake in the offering.
The only possible way for him to finish all the food was to share it with others. Inevitably, as they were sitting around eating, they would ask their host why he brought the offering. Was it a dangerous operation from which he recovered, a perilous journey he survived, or some other precarious situation from which he escaped? The person would share with them what happened and thus thank Hashem and publicize his fortunate deliverance.
As we recite the Haggadah and munch on the matzah with family, friends, and maybe even strangers, we can all take the opportunity to focus on two words - Thank You!
Based on the classic 15th century commentary of the Sforno.
Rabbi Ariel Asa is an educator at Torah Day School of Atlanta and director of the Mitzvah Depot which incorporates Brit Milah, Shatnez checking, and Safrut.
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