Meryl Danziger
Author, Educator, Creator of "Music House"

Peas and Proprieties

Unpacking my groceries and loading up the fridge, I realized I’d forgotten to buy mangos. Back to the Carmel Market I went.

While paying for the mangos, I was distracted by an attractive display of fresh peas in their pods. The vendor saw me staring.

“How many—half a kilo?” he asked, reaching for a bag to fill up.
“Thanks, I’m just looking.”
“These are very special” he exclaimed.
“Yes, they look really nice.”
“You’ve never had peas like this.”
“I’m sure.”
He picked up a pod, opened it, and nudged it toward me.
“Well, I don’t really…”
“Take!” he commanded.
I looked around furtively—no idea why—then selected a pea and popped it into my mouth.

If a pea could be life changing… Earthy, green, just a tad sweet. “This is incredible!” I gushed while helping myself to a few more. The vendor seemed genuinely touched and bursting with pride, delighted to have found someone capable of truly appreciating the peas—his peas.

With three peas left in the pod, I wondered how to proceed. Consuming them might obligate me to buy some, and there was no room in my overstuffed fridge. On the other hand, discarding them would be wasteful. I tried to invoke a group of Rabbis discussing the dilemma. What would they say?

Just then a woman pulling a shopping trolley came up behind me and called to the vendor.

“Menachem, did the new parsley come in?”
“Tomorrow, Rivka.”
“You said that yesterday.”
“Tomorrow—trust me!”

Rivka shrugged in resignation and was about to leave when I turned to her with an outstretched arm and an open pea pod. “You have to taste these. They’re unbelievable.” She hesitated, then daintily picked a pea from the pod. “It’s very good,” she acknowledged, a bit reluctantly I thought. “Please,” I said, indicating the two remaining peas. Rivka looked around, then gobbled them.

Meanwhile, Menachem stood with folded arms, watching and waiting. The moment of truth had arrived. Trying to sound cheerful but firm, I declared, “Not today, but next time for sure—trust me!” Had this been the Israel of the 1970s, Menachem might have lost his temper, guilted me into buying, or even chased me through the market, a sales strategy used on occasion back then. Instead, he gave a little bow, smiled, and said. “Have a wonderful day!”

The only remaining question: What to do with the empty pod? Since I compost religiously, disposing of vegetable matter in a trash can seemed sinful. But composting would mean that I’d have to carry the pod around between thumb and forefinger for quite a while until I got home.

What would the Rabbis say…?

About the Author
Meryl Danziger grew up in NYC. During her time living in Israel Meryl pursued a career as a violinist, and taught at the American International School in Kfar Shmaryahu. Returning to NYC, she taught at the Little Red School House in Greenwich Village. Meryl’s career continues to reach into every corner of music from performance to education to writing. Her presentation at the 2019 Carnegie Hall Summer Music Teachers Institute explored a cornerstone of her Music House approach: teaching through relatable imagery. Her book "Sing It! A Biography of Pete Seeger" (2016, Seven Stories Press), the first bio of Pete for young readers, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and has been a feature of numerous festivals and radio appearances. Several of Meryl’s city blogs have appeared in the New York Times “Metropolitan Diary.” A published songwriter, her original songs, stories and plays are regularly performed by children of all ages. Her articles on education and music education have appeared in NEA Today as well as in Homeschooling journals nationwide. .
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