Dear Rabbi Simon
We read that one is not allowed to eat peas from a pod on Shabbos? How is this different from peeling a banana on Shabbos, which is allowed?
Yosef and Levia
Dear Yosef & Levia
TY for your sophisticated question.
The Talmud (Beitzah 13b) teaches that mefarek (extracting) is a toldah (derivative) of dash (threshing). This refers to the act of removing a kernel of grain from the chaff which surrounds it. The Shulkhan ‘Arukh (OH 319:6) says that one who would like to eat fresh grain on Shabbos may do so only if s/he removes the chaff by rolling it with his fingertips, ie departing from the usual way (shinui). This restriction only applies when the shell/chaff/husk is inedible. So sugar snaps, for example would not be subject to this restriction. One may also rely on the opinions that the melakhah is not applicable when the nut or legume (for example) is not attached to the shell. This would allow one to shell and eat (without extended delay) peanuts, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds, etc. on Shabbat (Responsa Tzitz Eliezer 10:24 and others).
The prohibition only applies to grains, legumes, etc. of a sort which are generally supplied to the consumer unshelled (or unpeeled). In such a case, the shelling is similar to threshing, which is a component of the processing of grain, for the purpose of (ultimately) baking bread. This is the reason that satsumas, bananas, etc., are not subject to this prohibition. Removing the fruit from the peel (or the peel from the fruit) is “in the manner of eating,” rather than an early stage in bread production. Peas, however, are a bit similar to grain, as the shelling is generally done by the supplier, rather than the consumer, and as such bears similarity to dash (threshing), as above.
Finally, an interesting question to consider would be the status of edamame (soy) beans. Are they similar to peanuts in that they are opened by hand, one by one, at the time of eating (and therefor allowed)? Or like peas, generally shelled by the manufacturer? (But aren’t peanuts like that, too?) For further study.
Bottom line: Don’t eat peas from a pod on Shabbos, but pray for the peas of Israel.
Rabbi Rashi Simon