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Friday, April 22

Th Weekly Shtikle - Leil Seder

This year's thought on Seder Night draws its inspiration from a rather unlikely source. The Toronto Jewish Film Festival, whose existence was unknown to me until recently, has embarked on an advertising campaign which is admittedly quite entertaining. The clips feature various individuals who appear not the slightest bit Jewish but do something ever so slightly Jewish such as toasting a bagel for lunch or wishing someone "gezuntheit." The repeating tag line is "Jewish enough." My initial observation was the cute coincidence of this campaign intersecting with the Seder when we sing the famous song, Dayeinu. But then I realized that they have it all wrong.

At the seder, there are indeed two very opposite themes of "enoughness." The obvious one is of course the song of Dayeinu in which we declare that any single one of the multitude of acts of graciousness that HaShem bestowed upon us are each individually worthy of praise. Even a partial redemption would have demanded that we show gratitude to HaShem. We therefore view the totality of the exodus from Egypt and all its facets as far more than enough and perhaps even more than we deserve. This theme is already foreshadowed in the haftarah of Shabbas HaGadol, wherein we are promised that upon the proper performance of the mitzvos of terumah and ma'aser, HaShem will bestow upon us great blessing "ad beli dai." This term is interpreted in the gemara (Shabbos 32b) to mean until our lips become dry from repeatedly exclaiming "dai," enough.

But that is only regarding HaShem's dealings with us. But with regards to what is demanded of us, the very opposite is true. As we have discussed on different occasions, that one of the very central themes of the entire seder is that of praise and thanks and that is why we declare that even a sage who knows the whole story backwards and forwards must engage in the retelling of the story. And there is no upper limit whatsoever for the fulfillment of this requirement as any excess is praiseworthy. And finally, in the Hallel portion later on in the seder, we assert, "ein anachnu maspikim lehodos lecha, HaShem." Our praise and thanks to you, HaShem, is never sufficient.
So our relationship with HaShem as the beneficiaries of His kindness, demands that we always our contribution as lacking and insufficient. There is therefore no such thing as "Jewish enough."

Have a good Shabbos and Chag Kasher veSamei'ach!.

For a collection of previous seder night shtikles, please check out my archive of past Seder shtikles.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

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