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Tractate Peah, Chapter 2, Tosefta 18

Tractate Peah, Chapter 2

Tosefta 181

[If] the owner [of the field]2 gave a container3 [with produce]4 to a poor person [in order that the poor person will go] to fill it up with water5 for him (i.e. the owner) [and in return for this favor the poor person gets to keep the produce that was in the container], [then this produce] is not [assumed to be taken by the owner from the produce that was already left in the field to be] Leket (fallen stalks), Shikcha (forgotten sheaves) and Peah (corners of the field), [and therefore] it is obligated in Maaserot (tithes).6

מסכת פאה פרק ב

תוספתא יח

בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁנָּתַן כְּלִיבָה לֶעָנִי לְמַלּוֹת לוֹ מַיִם אֵין בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם לֶקֶט שִׁכְחָה וּפֵיאָה וְחַיָּיב בַּמַּעַשְׂרוֹת

Notes:

    1. The Tosefta states a new law regarding gifts to the poor. It is not related to any Mishna.

    2. Literally: the owner of the house.

    3. The word כְּלִיבָה (Kliva), “box” or “container”, is an original Hebrew word which is a feminine form of the word כלוב (Kluv), meaning “cage” or “coop”. It seems that both of these words come from the root כלב (Kalav), which means “to stitch” or “twist together”. The reason that both of these words come from this root is because in ancient times most cages or containers were made by stitching or weaving branches together, usually reeds, into basket like containers. If the vessel had to be made waterproof, as in our case, then it would be covered with pitch or tree resin. It is also possible to weave a basket so tightly that it will be waterproof without a pitch or resin coating. There are variant spellings of the word Kliva, such as כליבא (Kliva) and כליכא (Klicha), however it seems to me that the spelling from the Vienna manuscript which I have quoted in the main text is the most correct spelling since it properly reflects the Hebrew origin of the word by having the letter ה (Heh) in the end and reflecting the root from which it comes from.

    Water Basket from the 19th century made by Paiute Indians from Oregon. Oregon Historical Society Museum. Catalog Number: OHS Mus 73-126.9. Similar baskets were probably made in ancient Middle East as well.

    4. It is obvious that the container has to have some produce in it which the owner gave the poor person as a gift in return for fetching him water, because if the container would be empty then the whole Tosefta would not make any sense. However, see below in the middle of note 5 where I propose a different explanation according to the Erfurt manuscript reading where the container would be indeed empty.

    5. In the Erfurt manuscript the word “water” is missing. Due to this reading Cheshek Shlomo explains the Tosefta in a different fashion. He says that the owner gave the poor person a basket of produce as a gift, not as a reward for doing him a favor of fetching water, but rather because he felt bad for him that that particular poor person did not get to collect as much of the produce left as Leket, Shikcha and Peah, as other poor people did that day. According to this explanation the Tosefta is teaching us that even though the owner intended to give this produce to the poor person as a part of the official gifts to the poor that he was not able to collect himself it is still not considered to be a gift to the poor, which is exempt from tithes, but rather regular produce, which is obligated in tithes. The reason that this produce is not considered to be a gift to the poor is because all gifts to the poor have to be left in the field by the farmer to be collected by the poor themselves and not proactively collected by him and given to the poor, as I already explained earlier on a few occasions. This concept is implied in the Torah (see Vayikra 19:9 and 23:22) where the Torah uses the expression תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם (Taazov Otam), “leave them”, meaning that the gifts to the poor should be left in the field for the poor to collect themselves. See above Tosefta Peah 2:13, note 12. However, Cheshek Shlomo’s explanation still has a linguistic problem, because if it is not talking about water, but rather simply a basket of produce, it would be much better to skip the words “to fill it up for him”, because it implies that the poor person had to go and fill up the basket with something for the owner.

    I would like to propose another explanation according to the Erfurt manuscript reading which skips the word “water” that would resolve this linguistic problem. The phrase לְמַלּוֹת לוֹ (Lemalot lo) could also be translated as “to fill it up for himself”, meaning for the poor person, and not “for him” meaning the owner. Then the case is that the owner gave the poor person an empty basket and told him that he is allowed to go into the field and fill up the basket from the regular crops, which belong to the owner, since there were no official Leket, Shikcha and Peah crops left in the field, because all of them were already taken by other poor people. Since these crops are regular crops that belong to the owner this particular present that the owner gave him is considered to be regular produce and is therefore obligated in tithes.

    According to the reading of the Vienna manuscript which has the word “water” in it the Tosefta’s point would be different. The Tosefta is teaching us that we do not suspect the owner to have taken this produce from produce which was already designated in the field as Leket, Shikcha, or Peah and belongs to the poor people, but rather the owner took it from his personal produce and therefore the poor person is obligated to separate tithes from it as from any regular produce. Another possible interpretation would be that since in this case the owner literally made a gift to the poor person as a thanks for fetching him water, the poor person might think that this gift qualifies to be an official “gift to the poor”, such as Leket, Shikcha or Peah, and therefore the Tosefta has to teach us that it is not so. Since both explanations are plausible I have decided to keep the word “water” in the main text as it appears in the Vienna manuscript.

    6. As was already explained many times, all gifts to the poor are exempt from all tithes. See Mishna Chala 1:3. Since this produce is not considered to be in the special category of “gifts to the poor” the poor person would have to separate all tithes from it. For an explanation of what the different tithes are see above Tosefta Peah 1:6, note 7.

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