I wrote this midrash on the 5th of Sheva 5782 (January 8, 2022) as my Dvar Torah for Parashat Bo, and in particular chapters 11-12 of Exodus, which introduce and lead into and through the last of the ten plagues in Egypt. I was thinking about issues of collective accountability and responsibility, which are the ethical and spiritual dilemmas of the plague narrative. And I was thinking about how to tie this part of the Torah to everything going on right now, the pandemic and politics. This is what emerged. I could have written more and better, but was working on a deadline and also wanted to keep this particular version to less than 15 minutes (it's about 13m30s). It's a bit clunky in all kinds of ways, but it is certainly better than the expository Dvar Torah I had in mind. If anyone wants to take this and rework it, make it your own, you have my complete permission -- all I'd love is some reference to "from an idea by Rabbi Jon Spira-Savett."
Sabba and Savta are Hebrew/Aramaic for grandma and grandpa, which is a bit anachronistic. Rechavia is the name of one of Moshe's grandsons, reference once in the Torah as having many children. I had never known his name, much less thought about him, until I needed another character for this midrash.
Here's a video of me reading it (recorded not on Shabbat), and my text follows.
Rechavia was standing in the doorway of his grandfather Moshe’s home. It was night time in Goshen, and quiet -- more quiet than usual for a night with a moon that was almost full. Even in the worst of slavery, bright spring nights were when children wandered the alleys of Goshen with their littlest lambs and sang songs -- Peh Peh, Hashem Ayeh? Poh, Poh, Hayom Yavo. Rechavia was forty when he had to learn these songs for the first time for his grandchildren, starting a year ago when Sabba Moshe announced that the whole family was leaving Midyan and going to Goshen to rescue their people. Peh Peh, Hashem Ayeh -- it was a kids’ song about Yosef’s bones and the secret code that would lead back to them, on the day Hashem would come out of hiding and lead them out of Egypt -- Poh Poh Yavo Hayom; here, here, it’s coming today.
But no singing tonight. Going out was not safe, not a day before everyone would be slaughtering the sheep or goat they were keeping, and every home would be in danger, Egyptian and Israelite, from the plague of death that Sabba had announced two weeks before. Rechavia was full of thoughts, but his house was full of kids, twelve of them! So he snuck out to go see the one person who was always willing to talk with him. Or, brood with him.
Sabba? Rechavia called out again, quietly on this quiet night, but in his firm voice. For a few seconds Rechavia stood by himself in the entrance, a hand on each doorpost. His right hand could feel a spot that was smoother than the rest, it was about a third of the way down from the lintel. He knew his Sabba had smoothed it, probably stood there for an hour each day since the new moon, contemplating this spot where the blood would be tomorrow, which later they would all remember by putting a scroll of Torah in such a place in their desert tents and their eventual homes.
Savta Tzippora saw him standing there. Rechavia, what are you doing here?
I’m looking for Sabba. I wanted to ta.... I think he wants to talk.
You think he wants to talk? No, Sabba is all talked out. To me, to you, to Pharaoh. He just wants to be out of here. He’s hardly said a word the past week. That’s not true, I heard him the other day muttering -- keep the lamb from the tenth day until the fourteenth day and then slaughter it, why five days’ waiting inside? Wouldn’t two or three have been enough? Oh well, once a shepherd, always a shepherd, your Sabba. And me too, I’m named for the birds after all. And you Rechavia -- your name means wide open space. Look at you, standing in that cramped doorway of all places, what kind of a place for a man with such a name?
Rechavia tapped his hand. I like the doorway. I like to look in, and out. It’s important what we do in here, what we say inside. It’s all perfectly clear when we can talk ,and ask all our questions, and address all points of view. Everything makes sense. Everyone knows what they’re accountable for. If only that were good enough, to get it right in here. But we’re connected to what’s going on out there. The other families in Goshen, the homes in the rest of Egypt. I wish I could be in all of their conversations and not have to wonder what they’re thinking and planning.... When I’m out I need to come in and when I’m in I need to go out. So, I like standing in the doorway.
Rechavia closed his lips and bobbed his head, down once and back. End of speech. Then he tilted his head, gave a little shrug. Tzippora smiled at him.
Ah, this is why you are such a blessing to us, Rechavia, she said. Sometimes I think your Sabba is still trapped in that little box his mother saved him in, even when we was roaming the hills in Midian with my father’s sheep for all those years.
I can see you need to talk and so does your Sabba. Go out and find him. He also couldn’t stay inside tonight. I’d have gone out with him, but someone had to watch this lamb, Hashem forbid she escapes! How would it look if this was the one house without blood on our doorpost and lintel tomorrow. I saw him go out and head left, just after sunset. Stay safe, Rechavia. See you when we’re free.
Rechavia blew her a kiss, turned around, held his hand one more second on the smooth of the doorpost -- then out and to the left. It wasn’t hard to find Sabba Moshe, at the end of their alley on a small hill looking out toward the Nile.
Oh, Rechavia! You shouldn’t be out. I shouldn’t be out. Ha -- of course we all should be out! I can’t wait until we are out, tomorrow night finally.
But something tells me Sabba you’re not quite ready.
.... No, I’m ready. But I just keep asking myself: Does it have to be like this? Is this how we get our freedom -- someone in every one of their homes dies? Someone in Goshen forgets and maybe one of us dies too?
I know Sabba. I’ve been thinking about that too. I don’t know many Egyptians -- we’ve only been here the year. I know the taskmasters but it’s hard to believe that’s all they are.
Moshe gestured toward the Nile -- the shimmer of the moon over the wide waters. See Rechavia, right below the hill here, that’s where my Imma put me in the water, in a basket. And just over there is where Pharaoh’s daughter found me, and it wasn’t just her but the girls with her. You’ve heard the story. They decided together to save me. They knew it was right. They knew it together.
And Rechavia, so many hated us, or went along. I never knew until I turned thirteen. But from the start I always judged them one by one. You know this, I taught you about this when you were little.
That’s right Sabba. When you killed the Egyptian it was one man, threatening the life of another. You made me repeat it: No one shall die for the sins of his father, but only for his own sin.
Yes Rechavia. So why not that way tomorrow? Why can’t Hashem just punish the homes of the taskmasters, or the magicians advising Pharoah, and the king himself? I ask Hashem. I ask the one known to Avraham, and I get no answer.
Sabba, do you remember the day I turned thirteen? You said: Today you come out to the sheep with me, just like your father and uncle when they were your age. You said: I want you to watch carefully and understand. Sometimes a sheep runs away, and even if you can’t remember ever noticing a special streak of color in their wool, you know it is this one sheep, this particular sheep, whom you love and you do anything to bring it back. Then there are other times, when the sheep move together to water or pasture, it’s so miraculous-- how they change the shape of the flock to grip the hills so no one falls, protecting and nurturing each other, and in those moments there is no such thing as a single sheep, there is only a flock. In those moments no one sheep would ever consider running away. And a shepherd learns to know ahead of time the moment just before a flock becomes sheep or sheep become a flock again.
That is what you taught me Sabba. I think this is why Hashem chose you. You always knew long before the moment a flock turns into sheep and long before the moment sheep become a flock. All I ever wanted was to know this as you do.
But Rechavia, tonight I am having trouble with the difference. I know the Egyptians are like a flock of evil sheep -- they lose themselves as they oppress us, they are responsible together. They won’t save each other’s lives let alone ours. We gave them so many chances to run away and I, I myself would have taken any of them in, even if I couldn’t have recognized a single streak in them from before. None of them did. They are responsible, every one of them. So why am I still troubled? Why do I sit like a shepherd on a hill under the moon and look at them still?
The other night, Rechavia, I dreamed of a day I am even older, and we are far along out of this place, and our people are thirsty and I help them find water. And all of a sudden I am sitting right here looking down at this Nile and I am seeing the girls lifting a baby up out of a basket -- and then I hear their cries at the death of their firstborn. In the dream it is too much for me, and I shriek and lash out with this staff and then everything disappears.
Rechavia looked out toward the Nile for a long moment. Then he gestured with his head back, toward the houses, and said: Come on. I have something to show you. They stood up and Rechavia led them back to Moshe’s home.
Rechavia stood in the door frame, felt the smooth part of the post on his right, then moved inside and said: Sabba, stand here. Stand here, and feel this right here.
Moshe took his spot, and Rechavia held his hand and placed it so it touched the part that Moshe had made smooth.
I like the doorway, Rechavia said. What happens inside is important. We talk in here about all the things you asked outside. Who is responsible, for their own actions and for the actions of their nation or their friends, when are you responsible for your own sins and when for the sins of your fathers, and we address all points of view. We decide in here how we will act if this is the truth or if that is the truth. In here, we figure out how to hold each other accountable.
Now Sabba, keep your hand where it is, and turn around. Moshe turned carefully, holding his hand against the doorpost and looking out.
We look outside, Rechavia said, and we hope that inside other doorways it’s the same as in here. But we know it’s not. Not in too many Egyptians homes, and not even in all Israelite homes. It’s all right to wish that other homes would be like ours. When they aren’t, people die. The wrong people are punished.
If we only look out, all we will see is that the wrong people die, how they are all responsible and they are never accountable. We’ll think that is all there is. So each time we look out, we have to look back in here.
Sabba, we have to stand right here, and look both ways. How did you tell it to me once -- when you are sitting in your home and when you are out on your way. A doorpost that shows blood, a doorpost with Hashem.
It was midnight now. Moshe held his arms against the posts. How did you know, Rechavia, that I have been standing here an hour every day since the new moon, feeling this spot over and over, trying to smooth what won’t ever be smooth enough.
He looked at Tzippora, with her hand on the lamb. Moshe thought: Today each of us is a precious lamb, and I do know the moment in twenty-four hours exactly when we will become a flock, losing ourselves as we protect each other on the way out of here.
You know, said Sabba Moshe, I still have my sources still down the Nile. There are Egyptians who today want to come with us, and I have heard that on their doorposts they put up a sign, in our own language as a code to find each other: V’erev rav alah itam. I sent them a message today -- take down the note and put up blood instead and meet us tomorrow after midnight.
Maybe it’s the grandchildren of the women who fished you out, Sabba.
Do you think their homes will be spared from the plague?
I hope they will, Rechavia. When we talk of these things in the future, to your grandchildren -- that’s how we should want them to remember it. It was good to talk, Rechavia. I needed to talk before we left.
Not talk, said Rechavia. Teach. You just needed to teach. See you when we’re free.
Rechavia walked out, under the almost full moon. And without realizing it, he was humming a child’s song, peh peh Hashem ayeh, about the secret hiding place of Yosef’s bones and the day coming when Hashem would no longer hide but redeem them, and if not everyone in Egypt at least many more would be free tomorrow -- poh poh, yavo hayom.
I wrote and posted this a few years ago about this week's Torah reading -- one of my favorite things I've written. Hardly original, but still good!
This is the note I sent out to our congregation on Friday, March 26, 2021 as we get ready for Pesach to begin.
I have a short Pesach agenda to share with you below, but first: I realized a couple days ago how much I want Pesach this year to be like Chanukkah.
There's no way, at least for me, that everything meaningful is going to happen in the few hours of the two Seders. Chanukkah is something we anticipate, we prepare for, and it's not over all at once. We come back for something each day; we do something each day.
Actually that's been a theme of the Jewish year of 5781. I wanted to teach you to think not about just Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but about the season of Elul and Tishrei. I put out a dozen daily teachings before and after Purim last month.
Truth be told, I've been having trouble planning my Seders this year. This year there's so much to reflect on through the lens of the Exodus story and rituals. So much to teach the next generation. And that's compounded by the disappointment of not being able to have Seders the way I love to yet again, and the complexity of orchestrating the usual conversation around my Seder tables at home and at the synagogue.
What unlocked me, finally, is realizing that Pesach is not just a day or two. The Seders can plant some spiritual spring seeds for each of us to tend and nurture during the whole week of Pesach. Here are my suggestions for the coming week:
1. Whatever you do for Seder this year is what you are supposed to be doing.
Whether you're Zooming, or gathering with a small group safely, or having a quiet meal and reading something meaningful to yourself, it will be special because you're able to do it.
If you'd like some help, our Pesach page is full of resources that literally lead you through a Seder, by audio or video, whether it's for half an hour or a couple of hours.
2. However you mark the Seder, keep in mind the people who are having Seders differently.
In Egypt on the night of the very first Pesach, people were separated into households or maybe ate with one other family. But they knew they were part of a whole nation doing that, and that they would see everyone else in the morning in a great march.
We are a community, and each of us is somewhere different on the long path to physical togetherness. Have other people and groups of us in your awareness, however you yourself are doing the Seder. We will one day march together, hopefully soon.
3. Learn and think this week about some nuance in the original story of the Exodus.
If you haven't done this in a while, take some time during the weekend or the week to read chapters 1-4 and 12 in the book of Exodus, the most important book in history. You will for sure find something that startles you -- about a character, a twist in the narrative, a motivation. You'll wonder why something is told in just this way. So much about our world and our own souls today is revealed in the wording on these verses.
4. Reflect on life during the pandemic in light of the metaphors and symbols of Pesach.
Remember when leavened products were hard to come by a year ago -- flour, pasta, bread? Each of the symbols of the Seder plate and many aspects of the Exodus narrative are a prompt to bore into some aspect of the pandemic experience. All you have to do is pick one of them and ask: how does this relate? How does this help me clarify something important in my life or my ethical philosophy?
5. Think about Exodus and something happening in the world now.
It’s been a remarkable year since last Pesach in terms of our awareness of issues of justice, oppression, freedom, and suffering. Who in the wider nation and world is profoundly in Egypt? Who in the world is most profoundly a Miryam or a Moshe right now?
* * * * *
Pesach is a great gift to us, and through us to our community and the world. The Seder nights whets our appetite with the Exodus story, and the week keeps us chewing on it.
Wishing you a zissen Pesach, a sweet Passover festival,
I've had fun making these, and hopefully you'll enjoy learning a bit about Purim and the month of Adar, one short bit at a time. A couple more are coming in the next few days. "Hamentashen for thought"!
You can click on the video and watch it here, expand it, or click on the three horizontal lines toward the top that appear, which will reveal the whole playlist.
If you don't have a Seder leader, don't want to join a remote Seder, and still want to have all or part of a Seder while at home, here are three Web links that provide you a pre-recorded leader.
1. Rabbi Jon
I recorded myself leading you through a Seder. Just click here whenever you are ready. It's an audio recording of 35 minutes. This is a Seder with the essential rituals and common songs and readings. You can play it through, pause, stop to eat or think or take a break, go back and forward.
2. Rabbinical Assembly -- 2-hour Seder
This complete traditional Seder is on YouTube. You can click here for the whole video or you can click here for a "playlist" with each part for you to select.
3. Rabbis around the country 30-minute Family Seder
Same idea -- click here for the video. There are different rabbis and their families, each doing a part.
I just finished these thoughts. They are a combination of commentaries, reflection pieces, discussion prompts related to the Seder text, the Pesach Haggadah. You could read them before or after a Seder, or even during. Wishing everyone a good festival and a Zissen (sweet) Pesach.
This is a version of the D'var Torah I gave on Saturday, April 4, 2020, Shabbat Hagadol 5780.
According to the Passover Haggadah:
“The Torah speaks of four children. One is wise, one is wicked, one is simple, and one does not know to ask. Echad chacham, v’echad rasha, v’echad tam, v’echad she-aino yod’ea lish’ol.”
I have been thinking about these four children as responses to COVID-19. The smart responses and the evil ones, the simplistic and the – what -- oblivious or simply dumbstruck. I think each of these children has two sides, a side that needs support and encouragement and a side that needs teaching and guidance.
The wise one asks: What are the specifics about this disease? What do we know about how it spreads? What steps have been effective in different countries or regions? What do the models say? Who are the chachamim, the experts and Sages, to whom we should be listening?
In the Seder, the wise child asks: Mah ha-eydot v’hachukim v’hamishpatim asher tsiva Adonai etchem? “What are the testimonies, the rules that you don’t ask questions about, and the rules whose reasoning is important, that Adonai has commanded?” What is based on well-attested research, what are the things we don’t have time to debate but simply all have to do, what are rules that will work better if we take the time to understand them?
That’s the chacham of today, and the more of this we have the better we will all be. We need to encourage more people to be both well-informed and trusting of the scientific policymakers and the officials who are listening to them.
The Haggadah says that you should give the chacham detailed answers, of the specifics of the laws of Passover. So too today, the chacham needs ways to be practical – things to know and to teach others, concrete ways of giving tzedakah and doing for people who are vulnerable in all the ways that people are at risk now.
Of course, it’s also hard to be chacham right now. The chacham is the one who knows more than most what there is to be frightened of, who has the burden of seeing the danger in a trip to the store or a walk in the park. Who worries about people who have no option of staying home to work safely, who has no one to go shopping for them. These aren’t reasons to avoid being the chacham. But the chacham needs support – so as not to become overwhelmed or burn out. So as not to become so worried or sad that it’s impossible to smile or laugh or share a good moment with someone.
The wicked one asks: What is the burden that you have all taken on? In most years at the Seder, we often call this rasha not wicked but rebellious, in a sort-of good way, and we have more understanding than the rabbis of old seemed to. We say it’s just a phase, or it’s a teenager, or there is value in critical thinking, and maybe we even admire the rasha for not going along with the crowd.
But today we can say that there are wicked people, and we see them all over. They are standing too close to other people in the supermarket. They are coughing without covering. Online they are suggesting that only older people will die and we shouldn’t all have to lose our jobs because of that. Or that this is all a hoax or a liberal conspiracy.
And the Haggadah’s answer to the rasha is no answer today – fling it in his teeth, fine, if that’s your position you will not be redeemed. That’s not going to work now. The hazard of their wickedness isn’t just to them but to the rest of us through them.
So we are in the position of what Judaism calls the mitzvah of tochacha, confronting and trying to correct someone’s behavior. Which means taking a stand in public and telling strangers to step back or get out of here, as evenly but firmly as we can.
And to anyone who expresses views that can make this all worse, we have respond calmly also – in the way we repeat the new mantras of safety, by combating the bad reads with good ones that aren’t angry or ideological but sensible and factual.
I think too that today’s rasha needs understanding. There may be terrible fear at the heart of this: a fear of confronting what is really happening, or of having one’s worldview suddenly challenged or possibly irrelevant to the day. The rasha needs comforting.
And the online rasha who says it’s really not that serious a disease has long ago become deeply mistrustful of knowledge and of political authority.
Now is a time for us to show that knowledge works. People who value knowledge are creative and faithful and tireless and compassionate. Now is a time for us to key in on figures in authority who are relentless about human life; who show what it means to take responsibility and be advised by those who know more; who admit error and move on because they are committed to the people who chose them. We have to notice all these people now, and talk about them to people we know who are stuck in rasha mode.
The simple one says: What is this? This tam is the one who doesn’t keep close tabs on the news; who isn’t intentionally going out unnecessarily or willfully misbehaving but is making do with a minimum of information and precautions while out.
Or maybe the tam is the one of few words. Cooped up in the house with everyone, this is the one who doesn’t really want to fill the time together with talk, or doesn’t want to talk about feelings or worries.
And the Haggadah says: Open up to this one: “With a strong hand did Adonai bring us out of Mitzrayim.” Don’t overwhelm with more than they want to talk about. Start with the big picture: We are in a tough time and we are fortunate that there are strong powers out there doing their best to keep us safe and guide us through. And I will be here for you, to answer whatever question you have, about what’s going on or about what this is like. To talk to you when you do want to talk.
There is one who does not know what to ask or how to ask – she-aino yode’a lish’ol. The Hebrew could mean: One who does not know how to ask anything at all, or one who doesn’t know that it’s okay just to have questions, or one who doesn’t know which of the many questions would be appropriate to ask at this moment.
I think about our actual children, who will have this interlude in their formative years that will shape them, or who are aware enough that this time will be something shadowing their adult lives. They must be so full of questions, and it’s hard to have answers we don’t know what the next few days are going to be like.
And I think of the teaching of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, who taught that the one who doesn’t know how to ask is the most profound of the four children: For who even knows what questions are worth asking?
What do we ask at a time like this? Sure, there’s a too-familiar script of questions from catastrophes past: Why is this happening, why did this person die, why did I get sick or why did I not, what kind of God is this?
Now on top of that: What will it be like to hug someone again, to be with a boyfriend or girlfriend, to put out a bowl of potato chips at a party? How do you talk if the only options are to be focused through a phone or screen, or not to talk at all? We used to sit around in a room, talk for bit, wander and in out, talk a bit and stop and talk again. If we spend two months seeing people only on screens except for those in our house plus the quickly cashier at the supermarket, what will be the impact on our friendships? On society?
What will be the effect of this big unplanned experiment in distance and togetherness? Will we find ways to be more close and more responsible for people we don’t usually see, but who are tied to us, who affect us, who feed and care for us? What will we discover that we cherish about our face-to-face, local communities?
You can go crazy thinking of questions. I am, a bit. Or you can be fascinated by them. I am, actually, a lot.
It’s appropriate to take time not to ask anything, just to deal with what is in front of you. It’s okay to be overwhelmed by so many questions that you just can’t ask anything.
It’s also important that we move from not-asking, or not-being able to ask, or knowing what to ask first.
The Haggadah says: When you don’t know what question to ask or answer, tell the story, and say: “This is something that Adonai did for me when I went out of Mitzrayim.” We’re going to have stories to tell. Don’t forget to put yourself at the center. How it affects you. How you are acting. Your part of the story matters no matter what. You are the person who deserves to be taken care of while we are in this Mitzrayim, and you are the person who deserves to be brought out from this Mitzrayim.
We are all children now, in the midst of a society of children who are wise and wicked, simple and overwhelmed. We will do our best to understand this story while we are in it, and to teach each child of any age according to the need they have right now. So that as many of us can come out as possible, as we once came out Mitzrayim.
May you all be well, Shabbat Shalom, and even in these times a Zissen (sweet) Pesach.
My Temple Beth Abraham bulletin column before Pesach in 2015, still spot on!
Why do we care about what's in the past? Why do beginnings interests us, whether it's the origins of the universe or the first lines of a book?We look to the beginning to give us the essence of the whole. Origin stories are about identity and values. Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt, is the story of the origin of the Jewish nation. And it doesn't disappoint.
We talk about being in Egypt – because who were are, are people who know how important a home is, and that you don't take that for granted. We talk about being slaves – because we are defined by our identification with people who are oppressed and not free.
We talk about God fighting on our behalf against Pharaoh – because we were the lowest on the ladder, worth nothing, yet we were designated to carry a message of hope and possibility into the world.
When the world looks at the Jewish people, it looks in the mirror. Our story reveals that there is Pharaoh in the world, and there is God. Our origin is testament to the idea that the Mishnah teaches about the story of Pesach. Mat'chil big'nut um'sayaym bish'vach – start with shame and end with glory. On the road from Egypt to Mt. Sinai, through the desert toward Israel, we taught the world that no people and no person is too broken to be a vessel for divine wisdom and compassion.
That's all right there, at the start of Jewish history. Almost everything else is commentary. The stories we tell on Pesach are the seed, the Big Bang, the constitutional convention for the Jewish people and Judaism itself.
At our Seders, we talk about this and act it out. For the rest of the week, we ingest it and digest it.
For a lot of people, the Seder is the big highlight and then there is a slog. Eight days of matzah in various forms – crunched, spread on, microwaved with sauce and cheese, crumbled into kugel.
This year, think different. First of all, think about difference itself. Why is this week different from all other weeks? We're sitting at work eating (making crumbs) different things from other people. Give an answer when they ask: Why are you doing that? It's because of what happened to me when I and my people went out of Egypt. It takes us a week to meditate on that, and we're using our bodies and not just our mouths and minds to sort out the meaning of it.
Second, don't get hung up on what a friend of mind calls the “Passover-industrial complex.” Ditch the boxes of cake mix and dissolving noodles, and eat simple.
Matzah itself a simple food, while chametz (leavened food) represents human complexity and arrogance. Did you know that according to the Torah, Pharaoh built his tyranny as a system of food production and distribution? Eating fresh produce and simple dairy products cleanses our bodies, humbles our souls, and collapses the distance between us and God, the Source of sustenance.
Once again, the American Jewish World Service and Equal Exchange are partnering on Fair Trade chocolate, which you can find in our Sisterhood Gift Shop. And don't forget tomatoes, which many American rabbis have adopted as our anti-slavery project. Try to eat.... (I need to add a couple sentences here, doing a little research)
And don't forget, as we say at the Seder, “let all who are hungry come and eat.” If you have a place at your Seder even now for someone who doesn't have one, let me know and I'll make the match. And while we focus on our own food, please remember to give to organizations like the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter especially at this time of year.
Pesach connects with us high and low – in stories and how we reflect on them, in food and how our bodies process them. There is a lot to chew on, in both senses!
Chag kasher v'samayach – Wishing you a joyful and kosher holy day,