There are a couple of stichs in Dayeinu which seem to be patently false. We say that it "would have been enough" without them, yet we find Bnei Yisrael demanding that they receive them. How could it have been enough for us without them, when we demanded that we get them?

אִלּוּ הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה וְלֹא שִׁקַּע צָרֵנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ דַּיֵּנוּ.

If He had passed us through it on dry land and not drowned our enemies in it, it would have been enough for us.

Yet, Bnei Yisrael demanded proof that their former oppressors were actually dead (Arachin 15a):

בעלייה כדרב הונא דא"ר הונא ישראל שבאותו הדור מקטני אמנה היו כדרבה בר מרי דאמר רבה בר מרי מאי דכתיב {תהילים קי} וימרו על ים בים סוף ויושיעם למען שמו מלמד שהיו ישראל ממרים באותה שעה ואומרים כשם שאנו עולים מצד זה כך מצרים עולים מצד אחר אמר לו הקב"ה לשר של ים פלוט אותם ליבשה אמר לפניו רבש"ע כלום יש עבד נותן לו רבו מתנה וחוזר ונוטלה הימנו אמר לו אני נותן לך אחד ומחצה שבהם אמר לפניו רבש"ע כלום יש עבד שתובע את רבו אמר לו נחל קישון יהיה ערב מיד פלטן ליבשה דכתיב (שמות יד, ל) וירא ישראל את מצרים מת על וגו'‏

[Bnei Yisrael tested Hashem once] in ascending [from the Sea], as that which Rav Huna [said], for Rav Huna said, "The Jews of that generation were of those of little faith." [This is] like that which Rabbah bar Mari [said], for Rabbah bar Mari said, "What is that which is written, 'And they rebelled regarding the sea at the Yam Suf, and He saved them for His name'? This teaches that the Jews were rebelling at that time, and they were saying, 'Just like we are ascending on this side, so, too, Mitzraim is ascending from another side.' Hashem said to the angel of the sea, 'Spit them onto dry land.' He said before Him, 'Master of the world! Is there a slave whose master gives him a gift and returns and takes it from him?' He said to him, 'I am giving to you one and a half times them.' He said before Him, 'Master of the world! Is there a slave who claims from his master?' He said to him, 'The Nachal Kishon will be a guarantor.' Immediately, it spit them onto dry land, as it is written, 'And the Jews saw Mitzraim dead on [the edge of the sea].'"

How can we say that it would have been enough had the Mitzri'im not drowned in the sea, when the Jews clearly demanded proof that the Mitzri'im were dead?

אִלּוּ שִׁקַּע צָרֵנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ וְלֹא סִפֵּק צָרְכֵּנוּ בַּמִדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה דַּיֵּנוּ. אִלּוּ סִפֵּק צָרְכֵּנוּ בְּמִדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה וְלֹא הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת־הַמָּן דַּיֵּנוּ.

If He had drowned our enemies in it and not provided our needs in the desert for forty years, it would have been enough for us. If He had provided our needs in the desert for forty years and not fed us the mann, it would have been enough for us.

Yet, Bnei Yisrael demanded that Hashem provide for their needs on several occasions:

Shemos 15:24:

וַיִּלֹּנוּ הָעָם עַל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר מַה־נִּשְׁתֶּה׃

And the nation complained against Moshe, saying, "What will we drink?"

Shemos 16:2-3:

וַיִּלּוֹנוּ כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל־מֹשֶׁה וְעַל־אַהֲרֹן בַּמִּדְבָּר׃ וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִי־יִתֵּן מוּתֵנוּ בְיַד־יְהוָה בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בְּשִׁבְתֵּנוּ עַל־סִיר הַבָּשָׂר בְּאָכְלֵנוּ לֶחֶם לָשֹׂבַע כִּי־הוֹצֵאתֶם אֹתָנוּ אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה לְהָמִית אֶת־כָּל־הַקָּהָל הַזֶּה בָּרָעָב׃

And the entire congregation of Bnei Yisrael complained against Moshe and Aharon in the desert, and Bnei Yisrael said to them, "If only we died by the hand of Hashem in the land of Mitzraim, when we sat by the fleshpots, when we ate bread to satiety, for you took us to this desert, to kill this entire congregation by starvation!"

Bamidbar 20:2-5:

וְלֹא־הָיָה מַיִם לָעֵדָה וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ עַל־מֹשֶׁה וְעַל־אַהֲרֹן׃ וַיָּרֶב הָעָם עִם־מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֵאמֹר וְלוּ גָוַעְנוּ בִּגְוַע אַחֵינוּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה׃ וְלָמָה הֲבֵאתֶם אֶת־קְהַל יְהוָה אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה לָמוּת שָׁם אֲנַחְנוּ וּבְעִירֵנוּ׃ וְלָמָה הֶעֱלִיתֻנוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם לְהָבִיא אֹתָנוּ אֶל־הַמָּקוֹם הָרָע הַזֶּה לֹא מְקוֹם זֶרַע וּתְאֵנָה וְגֶפֶן וְרִמּוֹן וּמַיִם אַיִן לִשְׁתּוֹת׃

There was not water for the congregation, and they congregated against Moshe and Aharon. The nation fought with Moshe, and they said, saying, "If only we perished like our brothers perished before Hashem. Why have you brought the congregation of Hashem to this desert to die there – we, and our animals? Why have you brought us up from Mitzraim to bring us to this bad place? It is not a place of seed, fig, grape, and pomegranate, and there is no water to drink!"

(I don't count Bamidbar 11:5-7, which explicitly says that they desired food, not that it was their "needs" which they desired.)

In all of these places, the Bnei Yisrael demanded that they receive food and water; how can we say that it would have been enough for them had Hashem not provided?

  • 1
    Hindsight .....
    – sam
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 13:23
  • Acc. to Joel's answer I think your Q is built on "what does enough mean?". You should explain what do you think it means for you.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:46
  • I think the following verse "עַל אַחַת, כַּמָה וְכַּמָה, טוֹבָה כְפוּלָה וּמְכֻפֶּלֶת לַמָּקוֹם עָלֵינוּ:" proves Joel's point (?).
    – Al Berko
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:56
  • Need and demand are two different things. One is grateful for having his basic needs met, even if the full extent of one's more extravagant expectations is not met; e.g., a pauper dreaming of winning the lottery might nevertheless be deeply thankful to one's benefactor for being given something as trivial as a loaf of bread.
    – user18041
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 18:29

2 Answers 2


(Pseudo-)Malbim in Midrash Haggadah explains that Dayenu means, 'It would have been enough for us to be obligated in thanking Hashem'.

Although he doesn't address your specific question here, I think we can apply his approach.

Even if Hashem had only performed certain acts on our behalf, and had not done the things that Bnei Yisrael demanded of Him, we would still have to thank Him for what He had done.

  • Good point, I think it does answer the Q as Doniel didn't explain what "enough" means for him.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:47

I heard from a student of Rav Soloveitchik that he used to explain that "it would have been enough" means that even if Hashem had not gone the next step, we would have benefited from that step. Each step "would have been enough" on its own to have something meaningfully necessitating acknowledgement.

R' Soloveitchik then went on to explain how some of the less obvious stitches were valuable in a vacuum. For example, he explained that had Hashem brought us to Har Sinai and not given us the Torah, we still would have benefited from becoming a nation, as "ויחן העם כנגד ההר - כאיש אחד בלב אחד", that the Jewish people became a unit, was accomplished by gathering at Har Sinai, even before the Torah was given.

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