Ashni (ashnistrike) wrote,

Plagues and Dayenus

So this is what I posted on Twitter this morning:

Plagues so far: car shopping, insurance idiocy, broken oven, dog pee, chronic illness flare-ups. Dayenus: amazing householdmates, amazing landlord, & the realization that most of what we needed the oven for can be done on the grill if necessary. 

It continued to be a very concretely illustrative day--Passover prep is normally pretty intense, and having a non-functional oven when we were supposed to be feasting 16 people at sunset did not reduce the intensity. Our amazing landlord showed up around 2 with a new oven (because he's amazing), whereupon we had neither oven nor stovetop nor access to most ingredients for an hour or so while he got the thing installed. 

But he did get it installed and we did then have a working kitchen, and people's meds had mostly kicked in and Best Kitchen Housemate came back from the Kosher grocery (an hour away) with our last missing ingredients, and we got the eggs boiled and the matzoh made and the lamb in the oven and the quinoa in the rice cooker--and for all the stress, it was so good to be embedded in a community of people pitching in and making everything happen.

All of which is background to the seder itself, and one part of it in particular. Our household follows a tradition in which, after describing the 10 plagues visited on the Egyptians in Exodus, we list out modern plagues--for each one, dipping fingers in wine and leaving drops, bloodlike, along the rims of our plates. Then we sing "Dayenu," which lists the things G-d did for the Israelites, for each adding "it would have been enough." And we then list things we're grateful for now, saying after each one, "Dayenu."

Usually the two lists are about balanced--maybe 2-3 minutes going around the table and naming the world's ills, and then the comforts of family and community. Tonight, though, no one wanted to leave the Dayenus. We must have spent ten minutes naming things we were grateful for, responding with fervent Dayenus and thoughtful silences. Family and friends and community, but also resistance and protest, memory and foresight, and horrors pulled out the darkness where they've festered in safety. And specific glories: Librarians. Music. Electricity. 

Last year, newly launched into the work of resistance, we spent much of our seder on explicit discussion of that work, girding ourselves for the months and years to come. This year, it felt like we were more confident in that work--and hungrier for reminders of the things worth saving in the world. That place of focused gratitude was not something I expected to find tonight, but I hope to carry it with me into the coming year.


This post originally appeared at Comments are welcome both here and at There are comment count unavailable comments on Dreamwidth.
Tags: tikkun olam
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