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Haggadah: Discoverers Print E-mail

Haggadah“Kama Ma’alot Tovot Hamakom Aleinu!” This is usually translated as, “The Ominipresent has bestowed so may favors upon us!” However, a more accurate translation would be, “How many Higher Levels of Goodness does the Omnipresent possess over us?”

 

I’ll readily admit that the usual translation, as inaccurate as it is, is easier to understand. This introduction to Dayeinu is to present how many favors God did for us over the process of Redemption.

However, the words remind me of a different approach: In Arthur C. Clarke’s story “The Nine Billion Names of God,” a group of computer experts is engaged by a Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Their assignment is to use an automatic sequencing computer to list all the possible names for God. According to the monks, when all the names have been recorded they will no longer need to be spoken and God’s purpose will have been achieved and humankind and the cosmos will come to an end.

As the project draws to a close, the computer specialists decide it would be wise for them to leave the monastery, even though they do not subscribe to the monk’s apocalyptic myth.

As they secretly make their way toward an airfield where they will be picked up and whisked back to civilization, they look up at the night sky and realize that one by one, the stars are going out.

We know that even if all the computers in the world would work for eternity that they would not discover all the names of God, Who is Infinite. Our lives are a process of discovery, and with each revelation of God, we discover more about Him. With each discovery, we rise to a higher level on the ladder of the Infinite.

Each step of the Dayeinu was a step in the Revelation of the Infinite. We discovered more about God after each gift, we rose and touched an ever increasing level of the Infinite, only to experience our own limitations; “Dayeinu,” “Up to here, but we will never reach all the way.”

Dayeinu is a reminder that the process of Revelation and Discovery that began with the Exodus, continued with Sinai, then Israel and then the Beit Hamikdash, continues in everything we do. We continue to reach for the Infinite despite knowing that Dayeinu, there will always be more.

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