Lost in Translation CrankaTsuris, Part Two

In a little over a week, people of the Jewish Faith will begin to celebrate the holiday of Passover. For many of us, we will be be celebrating the first night by having a Seder. This is a time when we retell the story of the Jewish People being freed from slavery in the land of Egypt.

Of course, there is the Festive Meal which everyone waits anxiously for. There are four glasses of wine to drink. There is the search for a hidden piece of matzah that is rewarded with some sort of prize. There is also the Four Questions that is usually asked by the the children sitting at the table.

There are also the many songs that everyone sings. But, there is one in particular that we joyously sing almost in a very silly way, but the word gets lost in translation because it has a profound meaning that we should all think about this year.

The song in Hebrew is titled “Dayenu”. In English, it means “It would have been enough.” The verses go one by one, saying if you just did this one thing, but did not do the second thing, it would have been enough. If you did the second thing, but did not do the third thing, it would have been enough. The song keeps going on to the fourth, fifth to the twelfth, and on and on. Each one would have been enough.

Despite these profound words, we sing this in a silly half hazard way.

Die! Die! Yay! Nu! Die Die! Yay! Nu! Die! Die! Yay! Nu! Dieyaynu, Dieyaynu!

It has a real Hip Hip Hooray! feel. The profound words gets lost in translation.

I was thinking about this when I was about to do the Bookfest with my brilliant illustrator, Andy Case. I just had recently been to visit him in Nottingham, England, and it was for me a celebration. Collaborating with Andy to do children’s books is like being in the middle of the best buddy movie, and I never want the buddy movie to end.

Andy just had finished the fourth book we have done together “Snoodles in Space, Episode Two : The Zoodles Strike Back”. So, I began to think of the word “Dayenu.” It would have been enough. If Andy just did the first book, and not the second, it would have been enough. If Andy did the second book, and did not do the third, the second book would have been enough. Andy has already completed over 200 pages of amazing illustrations, and now, he is working on Book Five. Thinking about that which appears like a miracle to me, I have been infused with the sense of deep gratitude, I thought of that word Dayenu. It would have been enough.

Unfortunately, more often than not, we think of what other people do in the exact opposite way. “Yes. You did the first thing. But, you did not do the second thing. If you did the second thing, that is not good enough because you did not do the third thing. Nobody is satisfied, and it creates a CrankaTsuris for everyone that has both resentment and disatisfaction.

But, for a moment, think about the power of Dayenu. Think about the deep sense of gratitude. I got to experience this deep sense of gratitude. I noticed how energizing it was to feel both love and gratefulness, and with that, I was immersed in the desire to give back. I told Andy that he gave me many Dayenus, and my wish is that he can experience Dayenu as well.

Afterwards, it reminded me of all the Dayenus I have for loved ones, friends, family, colleagues. The feeling of Dayenu is the feeling of really being alive.

It is also a reminder of all those people in the world, the 136 hostages in Gaza, and beyond, all those people who are suffering, and they are going without a Dayenu.

This year, at the Passover Seder, when we say Dayenu (“It would have been enough”) to hold deep in our hearts those people as well.

May next year be the year when we can all say Dayenu.

Andy is also a musician blessed with an incredible voice. Check out his just released album on Spotify!


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