|Tractate Peah, Chapter 2
What is Leket (fallen stalks)?2 It is what is left over [in the field] as a result of reaping [with a tool]3 and as a result of detachment [of produce by hand] (i.e. handpicking).4 Rebbi Yossi says, “Leket is only what is left [in the field] as a result of reaping [with a tool and not what is left from handpicking], as it says, ‘… and you should not pick up the fallen [stalks] of your reaping.’ (Vayikra 19:9 and 23:22)”5,6
|מסכת פאה פרק ב
אֵיזֶהוּ לֶקֶט? זֶה הַנּוֹשֵׁר בִּשְׁעַת קּצִירה וּבִשְׁעַת תְּלִישָׁה. רבי יוֹסֶי אוֹמֵר אֵין לֶקֶט אֶלָּא הַנּוֹשֵׁר בִּשְׁעַת קְּצִירָה בִּלְבָד שֶׁנֶּאמר (ויקרא יט:ט, כג:כב) וְלֶקֶט קְצִירְךָ לֹא תְלַקֵּט.
- Mishna Peah 4:10 defines in anonymous statement that Leket is something that is left over in the field as a result of harvesting. Our Tosefta clarifies that the statement in the Mishna is really the opinion of Rebbi Yossi, but there is another opinion which includes also the produce that was left in the field is a result of handpicking.It was already mentioned above in Tosefta Peah 1:14 that the obligation of all of the gifts to the poor depends on the manner of harvesting the produce and if the farmer harvested them in an abnormal manner then the produce is exempt from all of the gifts to the poor. In the case of grain in order for it to be obligated in the gifts to the poor it has to be reaped with a tool and not plucked out of the ground by hand. Our Tosefta does not mention whether it is specifically talking about grain that is normally reaped or if it is also talking about other types of produce, such as beans, which are also obligated in Leket (see note 6 below), but are normally picked by hand. If we would assume that our Tosefta is only talking about grain then the opinion of the Tanna Kama would be in contradiction with Tosefta Peah 1:14, which said that grain which was plucked by hand is exempt from Leket, because that is not the normal manner in which it should be harvested. Only the opinion of Rebbi Yossi would be in agreement with that Tosefta. However if we were to assume that this Tosefta is not specifically referring to grain, but to all produce which is obligated in Leket, including things that are normally picked by hand, then it is possible to explain it in a way that both the Tanna Kama and Rebbi Yossi agree with the Tosefta Peah 1:14 and their argument has nothing to do with the normal manner of harvesting, but rather with the derivation from the verse mentioned in this Tosefta and if it should be taken literally or not. According to this explanation, both of them agree that if produce was not harvested in the normal manner, such as if grain was plucked out of the ground by hand, then it is exempt from all of the gifts to the poor. However they argue whether produce that is normally picked by hand is obligated in Leket or not. The Tanna Kama holds that it is, but Rebbi Yossi holds that only produce that is harvested with a tool, such as grain, is obligated in Leket, but not produce that is normally picked by hand, such as fruit or beans. Since the verse which Rebbi Yossi mentions and learns literally is only talking about Leket then their argument is only applicable to Leket and not to other gifts to the poor.I have chosen to explain this Tosefta according to the last explanation in order to prevent the possible contradiction. I would like to immediately point out that it is not the way it is explained by many commentators, such as Minchat Yitzchak and Chazon Yechezkel, who explain it based on the way Talmud Bavli (Chulin 137a) explains a similar Beraita. Talmud Bavli’s explanation of that Beraita cannot be applied to this Tosefta, because that Beraita is radically different in its wording and opinions from this Tosefta as was already pointed out by Higayon Aryeh and Tosefta Kifshuta.
- For a description of what Leket is see above Tosefta Peah 1:13, note 5.
- Although generally the Hebrew word קצירה (Ketzira) is translated as “harvesting”, it literally means “reaping”. Reaping is the step of the actual harvesting where the stocks of grain are cutoff using a tool, such as scythe or a sickle. The normal process of reaping grain is only done using such a tool. The Tosefta at this point is specifically referring to reaping with a tool.
- Detachment refers to harvesting any produce by hand by ripping it off the stalk. As I already explained above in note 1, the Tanna Kama holds that when the Torah says וְלֶקֶט קְצִירְךָ (literally: the fallen [stalks] of your reaping), it means “the fallen stalks of your harvest”. The word קְצִירְךָ (Ketzircha) here means “your harvest” in a general sense without a specific reference to the reaping of grain, and therefore it includes in the commandment of Leket produce that is normally picked by hand, as well.
- Rebbi Yossi chooses to translate the word קְצִירְךָ (Ketzircha) as “your reaping”, as opposed to “your harvest”, and therefore the verse is only referring to produce which reaped, such as grain. According to him any produce that is not normally reaped would be exempt from Leket.
- My whole explanation of this Tosefta was built on the assumption that other produce, besides grain is obligated in Leket. The problem with this assumption is that there is no explicit source for it from Talmudic literature. It was already mentioned above in Tosefta Peah 2:13 that Leket applies to grain, but does not apply to fruit. However the Tosefta left open the question whether Leket applies to other things, which are not fruit and are not grain, such as legumes and vegetables. From the Rishonim (medieval authorities) it is implied that Leket applies to legumes as well. For example, see Sefer Hachinuch 218, Smag (Lo Taaseh 284), and the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam (Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 4:2) where he explicitly says that Leket applies to other types of produce besides grain which are normally picked by hand. Aruch Hashulchan Haatid (Hilchot Peah 1:7) discusses this issue and concludes that it is basically an assumption of all of the early and late authorities based on scriptural references, but there is no explicit Talmudic source that clearly states that Leket applies to anything else besides grain. He mentions that Sifra (Kedoshim, Parshitta 1, Perek 1) states that legumes are compared to grain and therefore should have the same law apply to them with regard to all gifts to the poor, however a careful analysis of the Sifra shows that it is only talking about Peah and not about Leket. Some commentators (see Ohr Pnei Melech on the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam (Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 4:2) and Smag (Lo Taaseh 284)) suggest that the source for this law is Mishna Peah 4:10, which is talking about Leket and says that if a person “picked by hand”, which they say is not referring to grain, but rather to another type of produce which is normally picked by hand. This suggestions is however very difficult to accept, because the Mishna itself says that if a person picked it by hand then it is not Leket and still belongs to the owner, implying that it is talking about grain and the reason that it is not Leket, because it was not harvested in the normal manner of harvesting grain. Unfortunately, I was not able to come up with a solid source for this law and therefore I admit that my whole explanation of this Tosefta hangs by a thread and could be easily refuted.