This Monday night, we are all going to read and discuss the story of Pesach using the Haggadah as the basis for the discussion. As part of this story, we will learn about fifteen acts of kindness that Hashem did for Bnei Yisrael. These kind acts range from taking us out of Egypt, to giving the Torah, and then to building the Beit Hamikdash once Bnei Yisrael enters Eretz Yisrael. After mentioning each act we then say “Dayenu,” that had this been the only kindness that Hashem had done for us it would have been sufficient. However, how could it have been enough if Hashem only took us out of Mitzrayim, and had not given Bnei Yisrael the Torah or allowed them to build the Beit Hamikdash? Wasn’t the whole purpose of Yetziat Mitzrayim to give us the Torah and build the Beit Hamikdash?
A common answer to this question is given by the Malbim, who says that “Dayenu” really means that even if Hashem only performed this one act it would have been enough to require us to say Hallel. Thus, the real purpose of Dayenu is to prepare us for the recitation of Hallel, and if one of these kindnesses would have merited a recitation of Hallel how much more so should fifteen acts of kindness necessitate Hallel.
The Vilna Gaon writes that the “song” of Dayenu is very similar to the fifteen generations between Avraham Avinu and Shlomo Hamelech, the constructor of the Beit Hamikdash. It is also similar to the fifteen steps in the Beit Hamikdash that led up to the Chatzer Hapinimit, the inner courtyard. In each of these examples there are fifteen steps leading up to an ultimate goal. Similarly, Rav Menachem Leibtag says that the lesson of Dayenu is that we must try to see the importance of each individual step, rather then just viewing the Beit Hamikdash as the only goal.