|Tractate Peah, Chapter 1
[These are the] things that do not have a fixed measurement [by Torah law]:2 the Peah (corners of the field),3 the Bikkurim (first fruits),4 the sacrifices of Reiyah (showing up in the Temple on three pilgrimage holidays),5 deeds of loving kindness,6 and the study of Torah.7 The Peah has a minimum measurement, but does not have a maximum measurement [by Rabbinical decree].8 [If a person] makes his whole field into Peah, it is not [considered to be] Peah.9
מסכת פאה פרק א
דברים שאין להן שיעור: הפיאה והבכורים והראיון וגמילות חסדים ותלמוד תורה. הפיאה יש לה שיעור מלמטה ואין לה שיעור מלמעלה. העושה כל שדהו פיאה אינה פיאה.
- Mishna Peah 1:1 lists five things that do not have a fixed measure by Torah law. This Tosefta repeats that list and adds some details regarding the fixed measure of Peah.
- Meaning that according to the Torah a person can do as little as he wants or as much as he wants of these things, as long as he does them.
- The Torah commands that a person must leave the corners of his field not harvested so that the poor can collect the produce from them instead. See Vayikra 19:9 and 23:22. However the Torah does not specify how much produce should be left on each corner. It is up to the discretion of every field owner to decide how much to leave. As the Tosefta comments further, the Rabbis have proscribed a minimum amount for Peah.
- The Torah commands that a person must bring as a gift to God the first fruits of the harvest from his fields. See Shemot 23:19 and Devarim 26:1-11. This commandment applies to the seven fruits for which the Land of Israel is blessed: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, dates and pomegranates. See Mishna Bikkurim 1:3. The first ripened fruits were gathered right before the holiday of Shavuot and brought to the Bet Hamikdash (the Temple) on Shavuot where a procedure of waiving was done with them, although technically they could be brought all the way until Sukkot. See Mishna Bikkurim 1:10. The Torah does not prescribe how many fruits of each kind had to be brought. By Torah law the person could bring as few as one of each kind or as many as he wanted to. However the Rabbis have proscribed for the Bikkurim a minimum amount of 1/60th of the total produce of each type of fruit. See Talmud Yerushalmi (Bikkurim 3:1, Daf 10b).
- The Torah commands that all Jewish men had to appear in the Bet Hamikdash three times a year on the pilgrimage holidays of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot and bring some kind of a gift to God. See Devarim 16:16-17. The “gift” consisted of two sacrifices, called Olat Reiyah – The Fiery Offering of Showing Up, and Shalmei Chagigah – The Peace Offerings of Celebration. See Tosefta Chagigah 1:6. According to the Torah law the person could walk into the courtyard of the Bet Hamikdash even for one second and fulfill his obligation of showing up. Also he could bring as little or as many of these sacrifices as he wanted to and pay for them as little as he wanted to or as much as he wanted to. However the Rabbis have proscribed for them a minimum amount of money that a person should spend on each type of sacrifice. See Mishna Chagigah 1:2 for various opinions on these values.
- There is no explicit commandment in the Torah to perform deeds of loving kindness. However the Torah implies such a commandment by general statements or by giving other specific commandments which in themselves are deeds of loving kindness. For example, the Torah commands that you should love another Jew as yourself. See Vayikra 19:18. This implies that a person is obligated to perform various deeds of kindness to others in the same way he would like others to perform similar deeds towards himself. Also, the Torah commands to give charity and help the poor, which is a deed of loving kindness. See Devarim 15:11. Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 1:1, Daf 2b) clarifies that although for deeds of loving kindness that a person does with his body, such as visiting the sick, the Rabbis have not proscribed a minimum amount, for charity since it is performed with money the Rabbis proscribed a minimum and a maximum amount. The minimum being either 1/100th (like Terumat Maaser) or 1/50th (like Terumah Gedolah) of the person’s wealth and the maximum being 1/5th of his wealth.
- The main commandment of studying Torah is not written in the Torah itself, but rather in the book of Yehoshua (1:8) where God commands Yehoshua to study Torah day and night. The Rabbis have always treated this commandment as a Torah obligation although it is not written in the Torah itself. The Torah did not prescribe how much Torah should a person study per day or even if it should be studied every single day. God’s commandment to Yehoshua of studying it day and night is not to be taken literally. It simply means that people should study the Torah a lot. However the Rabbis in ancient times already have set minimum amounts for Torah study. Either Moshe himself or Ezra instituted that the Torah should be publicly read every three days, on Mondays, Thursday, and on Shabbat. See Talmud Bavli (Bava Kama 82a).
- Mishna Peah 1:2 specifies that the Rabbis have instituted the minimum amount for Peah to be 1/60th of the person’s field, unless his field is really small in which case 1/60th would be a useless amount, so he should add to it accordingly so it would be useful for the poor to take. There is no specification how much produce should be allocated in each specific corner of the field. Rather the four corners together should add up to 1/60th.
- The Tosefta clarifies that even though a person can leave as much produce as he wants for Peah he cannot designate his whole field to be Peah without harvesting anything. The reason is explained by Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 1:1, Daf 1a) that a person is only obligated to give Peah after he begins harvesting his field, since the Torah explicitly says (Vayikra 23:22) that Peah should be given during the harvest. Therefore if he did not harvest anything from his field, not even one stock, then the obligation of Peah did not start. Therefore he must harvest at least one stock from his field in order to make the rest of it Peah. It should be noted that Talmud Bavli (Nedarim 6b) quotes a different Beraita that seems to be arguing on this Tosefta and says that a person can designate his whole field to be Peah, based on a different derivation from a verse in the Torah.