Tractate Peah, Chapter 3
What is [the case mentioned in the Mishna titled as] “a sheaf that is in front of it proves [that it is not considered to be Shikcha”]?2 Someone who had 10 rows [of sheaves with] 10 sheaves in each row, and he stooked3 one of [the rows in the direction] from North to South, and [then] forgot [the last sheaf in that row.] It is not [considered to be] Shikcha (forgotten sheaf), because [that sheaf] can be counted [as a part of the last row that goes] from East to West.4, 5
מסכת פאה פרק ג
הָעוֹמֶר שֶׁכְּנֶגְדּוֹ מוֹכִיחַ. כֵּיצָד? מִי שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ עֶשֶֹר שורות שֶל עֲשָׂרָה עֲשָׂרָה עוֹמָרִין וְעִימֵּר אַחַד מֵהֶן לַצָּפוֹן וְלַדָּרוֹם, וְשָׁכַח, אֵין שִׁכְחָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּידּוֹן בַּמִּזְרָח וּבַמַּעֲרָב.
Mishna Peah 6:3 lists three unrelated cases of forgotten sheaves in which Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel agree that the forgotten sheaf is not considered to be Shikcha. The third case is self-explanatory. The first case is worded in an obscure fashion, but the Mishna explains it in Mishna Peah 6:4. However, the second case is also worded in a very obscure fashion and the Mishna does not explain what it is. Our Tosefta comes to explain what this second case of the Mishna is. It is not clear why the Mishna does not explain this case. This Tosefta is one of those clear cases that show that the Tosefta was written later than the Mishna and was used as a commentary on it.
The Mishna words the case in this obscure fashion: “The sheaf that is in front of it proves that it is not Shikcha.” However, it does not explain the sheaf in front of what, how many sheaves there are, and what the farmer was doing with those sheaves. So the Tosefta goes on to describe this case in more details.
For the exact meaning of the word עִימֵּר (Imer) see note 2 on the previous Tosefta.
The Tosefta is talking about a field where the sheaves were lined up neatly in rows. For an example of such a field see the last picture in note 3 on the previous Tosefta. It is best to illustrate this case with diagrams.
There were 10 rows of sheaves in the field with 10 sheaves in each row, as shown on diagram 1.
Diagram 1. Sheaves neatly laid out in 10 rows of 10 sheaves each.
Then the farmer took away the sheaves in the first row from North to South, bur forgot the last sheaf, as shown on diagram 2.
Diagram 2. The first row from North to South has been collected, but the last sheaf was forgotten.
Since the last sheaf forms a complete row with the remaining sheaves from West to East it is not considered to be Shikcha, as shown on diagram 3.
The reason for this is because the forgotten sheaf forms a complete row of sheaves from West to East and therefore it appears to the poor as if that sheaf has never been forgotten in the first place. Since it is a case of questionable appearance it cannot be considered Shikcha, since Shikcha requires the poor to be 100% sure that the sheaf in question has been forgotten, as I already explained in the previous Tosefta at the end of note 4.
Diagram 3. The forgotten sheaf forms a complete row from West to East with the other sheaves.
To clarify this point I would like demonstrate what would happen if the farmer would keep on going and stook the remaining rows. He can do it in two possible ways. He can keep collecting the sheaves from North to South always returning to row 1, thus forgetting the last sheaf in row 10, as shown on diagram 4. In this case none of the sheaves are considered to be Shikcha since they form a new row, and it appears to the poor as if that row has never been collected in the first place.
Diagram 4. The farmer kept collecting the sheaves from North to South and kept forgetting the last sheaf in each row. The forgotten sheaves have formed a new row from West to East.
However, let us suppose that the farmer kept collecting the sheaves in a more efficient manner and instead of coming back to row 1 he kept going back and forth, first from North to South and then back from South to North, and forgot the last sheaf in each row, as shown on diagram 5. In such a case none of the sheaves form a complete row and they appear as randomly scattered sheaves that have been forgotten, therefore qualifying to be considered Shikcha.
Diagram 5. The farmer kept collecting the sheaves from North to South and then back South to North and kept forgetting the last sheaf in each row. The forgotten sheaves did not form a new row from West to East, since the row in incomplete and therefore all sheaves qualify to be considered Shikcha.
It should be noted that in the Erfurt manuscript the reading is reversed and instead of saying אֵין שִׁכְחָה (Ein Shikcha), “it is not Shikcha”, it says הרי זה שכחה (Harei Zu Shikcha), “it is Shikcha”. However that reading is clearly a mistake made by the copyist of the manuscript, since it contradicts the Mishna and does not make any sense as far as the case goes. I have kept the reading as it appears in the Vienna manuscript in compliance with the Mishna.