|Tractate Peah, Chapter 1
Tosefta 131[A farmer] who selectively picks2 [some produce from his field early for immediate sale and leaves the remaining produce to ripen further for storage] is obligated [to leave Peah (corners of the field)] in the beginning [after he picks some of the produce for immediate sale] and [also] he is obligated [to leave Peah] in the end [after he harvests the remaining produce for storage].3 [If a farmer] had [in his vineyard only] four or five4 grape vines, [and then] he harvested them and brought [the harvested grapes] inside his house [in order to eat them, and not inside the wine press in order to press them into wine], he is exempt from [leaving] Peret (individual fallen grapes),5 from [leaving] Shikcha (forgotten produce),6 from [leaving] Peah (corners of the field), but he is obligated in [leaving] Olelot (incompletely formed grape clusters).7 [However,] if [after the farmer brought some grapes into his house to eat, he also] left [more grapes in the vineyard in order to press them into wine] he gives [Peah] from what has remained [in the vineyard] for that which he has left [there to be pressed into wine, but not for what he already brought into his house to eat, because that part is exempt from Peah].8 And [a farmer] who plucks (thins) [some grapes from the vineyard in order to give the remaining grapes more room to grow does not leave any Peah from the plucked grapes, but rather] he gives [Peah only] from what has remained [in the vineyard] for that which he has left [there to be pressed into wine].9 Rebbi Yehudah said, “When do we say that [that the farmer only gives Peah from what he has left in the vineyard for only that which he has left to be pressed into wine later, and not for what he has plucked]? When [the farmer] plucked [the grapes] in [order to sell them on] the market. But [if] he plucked [them in order to eat them] inside his house [and not sell them] he has to give [Peah] from what has remained [in the vineyard] for everything, [including what he has left to be pressed into wine and what he has plucked in order to eat himself.]”10
מסכת פאה פרק א
המארג חייב בתחילתו וחייב בסופו. היו לו ארבעה או חמשה גפנים, בוצרן ומכניסן לתוך ביתו ופטור מן הפרט מן השכחה ומן הפיאה וחייב בעוללות. אם שייר נותן מן המשויר על מה ששייר. והמֵידַל נותן מן המשוייר על מה ששייר. אמר רבי יהודה במה דברים אמורים? במידל לשוק אבל המידל לתוך ביתו נותן מן המשוייר על הכל.
- Mishna Peah 3:2 mentions an argument between Rebbi Akiva and the Chachamim (sages) in a case where the farmer selectively picks some crops from his field and leaves other crops, whether he is obligated to leave Peah separately for each section of produce or from the remaining section for all of the produce. This Tosefta expands on this case. Also, Mishna Peah 3:3 mentions a case of a farmer who picked some onions to be sold in the market and left some onions for storage that he is obligated to leave Peah separately from each section of produce, and adds that the same would apply to peas and grapes. The Mishna also adds that if the farmer picks some produce in order to give more room for the remaining produce to grow, he only has to leave Peah for the produce that is left in the field and not for what has been picked. This Tosefta expands on these laws.
- Aramaic word מארג (Meareg), sometimes spelled as מריג (Marig), used by the Tosefta means the same as the Hebrew word מנמר (Menamer), used by the Mishna (Peah 3:2), which is “to leave spots” or “to make something spotted”. In this case it is referring to selectively picking the produce from the field. Since the produce is picked randomly from among the remaining produce empty spots are created in the field. Therefore this procedure of selective picking is called by the Mishna and the Tosefta “spotting”.
- The Tosefta follows the opinion of Rebbi Akiva mentioned in Mishna Peah 3:2 that Peah has to be left from each group of produce separately. The reason is because according to him each picking is considered to be a separate harvest which is begun and completed, therefore requiring Peah to be left in the end of each harvest for the produce that was harvested in that batch. However the Chachamim say that Peah should be left from the remaining crops to cover everything, including the crops that were harvested earlier. The reason is that they hold that this initial harvest is not considered to be a separate harvest but rather the beginning of the main harvest which is one complete cycle. Therefore Peah would have to be left only at the end of the harvest cycle from the crops that remain last. Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 3:1, Daf 14b) points out an important detail regarding this argument. It explains that Rebbi Akiva and the Chachamim argue only in a case where the farmer had different intent for the usage of the produce. For example, if the farmer plucked the initial produce in order to sell it on the market and he planned to keep the remaining produce for storage, then it is considered to be different usage of the produce. However if some of the produce simply ripened a little earlier than the rest and the farmer picked these ripe fruit or vegetables early and then later he harvested the remaining produce, but he intended to keep both of them for storage, then both, Rebbi Akiva and the Chachamim agree that this is considered to be a single harvest and Peah needs to be left only from the remaining crops in the very end to cover the whole harvest, including the crops that ripened and were picked early. I have emphasized this point in the translation of the Tosefta and pointed out that the case which the Tosefta is referring to is only the case where the farmer selectively picked some of the produce to sell right away on the market and kept the remaining produce for storage and not the case where all of the produce was intended to be used in the same manner but since some of it ripened earlier than the rest the farmer had some of it picked early.
- The Tosefta simply means that the farmer did not have a very large vineyard, but rather he only had a few vines. It is a common expression in the Talmudic literature to say “four or five” when a few are being meant. The reason that the Tosefta uses a case of a farmer with only a few vines is because it is referring to a common case where the farmer grew the grapes in order to eat them straight and not to make wine out of them, which normally was the main purpose of grape growing. In order to produce wine the farmer must have a large vineyard so that he can press enough grape juice that it would be worth for him to make wine. However if he only has a few vines then their purpose would be to eat the grapes and not to make wine. For a discussion of various cases in the Mishna and the Tosefta where the expression “four or five” is used see the article, Tzvi Novick, “Crafting Legal Language: Four or Five in the Mishnah and the Tosefta”, Jewish Quarterly Review, Volume 98, Number 3, Summer 2008, pp. 289-304.
- The Torah commands that the farmer is not allowed to pick individual fallen grapes during grape harvest, because he has to leave them for the poor. See Vayikra 19:10. This particular gift to the poor is known as Peret, meaning “individual”. Mishna Peah 6:5 points out that this applies only to individual grapes, such as one or two, but not to whole grape clusters with at least three grapes on them, which the farmer is allowed to pick up in case they fall. Peret is the same thing as Leket (fallen stalks), just that Peret refers to grapes and Leket refers to grain.
- The Torah commands that the farmer is not allowed to go back and pick up forgotten sheaves of grain in the field, forgotten olives and forgotten grapes. See Devarim 24:19-21. This particular gift to the poor is known as Shikcha, meaning “forgotten”. Tosefta Peah 3:10 says that by grapes this applies to two whole vines of grapes that grow separately from each other, meaning that they are not intertwined, that have not been picked. However if three vines have been forgotten to be picked then the farmer can go back and pick them.
- The Torah commands that the farmer is not allowed to pick incompletely formed grape clusters during harvest, because he has to leave them for the poor. See Vayikra 19:10. Mishna Peah 7:4 explains that an incomplete grape cluster is a cluster which either does not have grapes attached to a central stem, or does not have grapes lying one on top of the other, or has a single grape growing on it. The Rambam (Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 4:16) explains that the reason such clusters are called Olelot (singular: Olelet) is because the name comes from the word עולל (Olal) meaning “an infant”, since the cluster never fully developed compared to other clusters it is just like an infant compared to grown men. The term Olelot is often translated as “gleanings” however that is not accurate, since gleanings are left over crops which are left by the farmers after the harvest. All gifts to the poor, Peah, Shikcha, Leket, Peret, and Olelot would qualify as gleanings since they are left on purpose by the farmers in the fields to be collected by the poor.In order to understand what Olelot are it is critical to understand how the grapevine grows and develops. There are 7 stages in the annual growth of a grapevine: bud break, flowering, fruit set, Veraison (ripening), harvest, leaf fall, and winter dormancy. In the Northern Hemisphere, and therefore in the Land of Israel, bud break begins in March, when the vine begins to bleed water and small buds form on the vine from which shoots begin to grow. 40-80 days after bud break, around May time, flowers appear on the tips of the new shoots. Almost immediately after flowering the fruit set stage begins, also in the month of May. The flowers that have been fertilized begin to turn into small berries, where as unfertilized flowers fall off the vine. This is the critical stage which determines the potential crop yield of the vine. It is during this stage that some clusters do not form properly and become designated as Olelot. Olelot clusters are deformed from the very beginning of fruit set and are not something that occurs later during the harvest of the grapes. This is the reason why Tosefta Peah 3:19 states that Olelot belong to the poor from the beginning of their formation and not from the time of the harvest as other gifts do, such as Peah or Shikcha. Following fruit set, the grape berries are green and hard to the touch. They begin to grow to about half of their final size during the stage of Veraison, which begins 40-50 days after fruit set, around the end of July and the beginning of August. During this stage the final color of the grapes takes form. Once the grapes are fully ripe harvest begins, roughly in the month of September. Following the harvest the leaves turn from green to yellow and eventually when it gets colder fall off. The vine remains dormant during the winter until it begins the annual cycle again in the beginning of spring.
Normal Chardonay grape cluster. Notice how the grapes overlap one another. Photo: TravessiaWineBlog.com Chardonay grape cluster with poor fruit set. Notice how the grapes do not overlap one another and most grapes on the cluster have not developed at all. Such cluster would be considered Olelot. Photo: TravessiaWineBlog.com
The Tosefta mentions all four gifts to the poor that apply to grapes: Peret, Shikcha, Peah and Olelot. The reason for this law is not explicitly stated in the Talmudic literature however it can be inferred from a Beraita quoted in Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 3:2, Daf 15a). The Beraita states that by Leket the Torah says (Vayikra 19:9) לקט קצירך – the individual fallen stalks of your harvest, meaning that the stalks have been harvested and not plucked. The Beraita implies that the stalks have to be harvested in the normal manner of harvesting, meaning that they have to be cut off using a harvesting tool such as a sickle and not simply plucked out of the ground. Based on this Beraita Higayon Aryeh (Peah chapter 3, note 10) explains that since by the regular harvest of grain there is a requirement that the harvest must be done in the normal manner and for the main purpose of that produce, it also applies to all types of produce as implied by the discussion in the Yerushalmi (ibid.). Therefore in order to become obligated in these gifts to the poor the grape harvest also has to be done not just in the normal way of harvesting grapes, but for the main purpose of harvesting grapes, which is making wine. Harvesting grapes in order to eat them is not considered to be the main purpose of grape harvest and therefore if the farmer harvested his grapes for direct consumption he is exempt from leaving Peret, Peah and Shikcha. However by Olelot the Torah does not explicitly say the word “harvest” (see Vayikra 19:10), and therefore even though the grapes were harvested for direct consumption and not for making wine they would still be obligated in Olelot. It should be pointed out that by Peret it also does not say the word harvest (see Vayikra 19:10), however that does not pose a problem, because Peret by grapes is the same as Leket by grain and by Leket the Torah does mention harvest as I already explained. Also the reader should not be confused by the verse by Shikcha of grapes (Devarim 24:21) which on the surface seems to mention grape harvest and Olelot, since it says לא תעולל אחריך, because it is not talking about Olelot but rather about grapes forgotten on the vine (Shikcha) as implied by the word אחריך – “after it”, meaning that the farmer should not go back to pick off the grapes that he forgot on the vine.
A different explanation for this law is proposed by Chazon Yechezkel. He says that the word harvest by Peret, Peah and Shikcha implies that the produce has to be able to be stored since the main reason why people harvest crops is in order to preserve them for later use. Since grapes cannot be stored in the form of grapes for a long time without refrigeration these gifts to the poor would not apply to them if they are harvested for direct consumption. The only way to obligate the farmer in these gifts to the poor is to harvest the grapes in order to make wine out of them which allows the grapes to be preserved for a long time. However Olelot are different from the other three gifts, because they belong to the poor from the very beginning of their formation, during the fruit set stage as I already explained above, and not from the beginning of the harvest as the other gifts, as implied by the Tosefta (Peah 3:19). Therefore the way the harvest is done does not have any effect on Olelot and the farmer is still obligated in leaving them for the poor regardless how and for what purpose he harvested the grapes.
- Since only the grapes intended for the wine press are obligated in Peah, as was explained above, the farmer has to leave Peah only at the very end of the harvest of the second group of grapes.
- There are a few possible reasons why the farmer would pluck some grapes from the vine early. One reason is in order to improve his crop yield by a process known as “thinning”. There is a minimum requirement for the amount of leaf area required to acceptably ripen a grape crop. A value of 10 to 14 cm2 of leaf area per gram of fruit is often quoted as the minimum requirement for maturing a crop in a temperate climate. See Thomas J. Zabadal, “Crop Control in Grapevines”, Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center, Michigan State University, SWMREC Report #17, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/uploads/files/Vineyard_management/cropControl.pdf, Last accessed on 11/29/09. In order to meet this ratio sometimes clusters have to be physically removed from the vine in order to allow more leaves to grow. There are two kinds of thinning that are potentially done on grape clusters: flower cluster thinning and cluster thinning. Flower cluster thinning is when some of the flower clusters are cutoff the vine during the flowering stage, before fruit set. Cluster thinning is when almost mature grape clusters are removed during the Veraison stage. It is considered to be the easiest and best method of reducing the crop on overloaded vines. The Tosefta is referring to a case of cluster thinning during the Veraison stage. Since the grapes during Veraison are already eatable we may think that it would be considered to be a real harvest and therefore Peah would have to be left for it. Therefore the Tosefta teaches us that since the purpose of thinning is to improve yield and not to actually harvest the grapes it is not considered to be a real harvest and therefore Peah does not have to be left. For more information on the process of thinning see Albert Julius Winkler, “General Viticulture”, University of California Press, 1974, chapter 14: Means of Improving Grape Quality, p. 338-345. A second possible reason why the farmer would pluck some grape clusters from the vine early is a process known as “green harvest”, or in French “vendange verte”. A green harvest is the removal of immature grape bunches, typically for the purpose of decreasing yield. Removing the immature grapes while they are still green induces the vine to put all its energy into developing the remaining grapes. This results in better ripening and the development of more numerous and mature flavor compounds. In the absence of a green harvest, a healthy, vigorous vine can produce dilute, unripe grapes. This practice is done most often in order to produce fine wine. However, it is unlikely that the Tosefta is referring to green harvest, because it is done during the fruit set stage, before Veraison, and therefore the grapes are still completely inedible. It is also not clear how ancient this practice is since some sources claim that this is a relatively modern practice and may not have been done at the time of the Tosefta. Therefore I have translated the main text to refer to the process of thinning and not green harvest. There is also a third, although unlikely, possibility that the Tosefta is referring to removing complete vines and not just clusters, in order to reduce congestion in the vineyard or simply because he needs the wood. The word Hameidal is used in this way in Mishna Sheviit 4:4. However, I think it is really unlikely here, because in the next statement Rebbi Yehudah says that he removed the grapes in order to be sold or eaten, which implies that it is referring to just clusters and not complete vines. A forth reason could be because the farmer simply wants to eat some grapes or wants to make a little bit of money now by selling the grapes instead of waiting until he makes the wine and can sell the wine, as is implied by Rebbi Yehudah’s statement. According to this explanation it would have nothing to do with improving grape quality or crop yield, and therefore technically would be considered to be a part of the harvest.
- It is not clear if Rebbi Yehudah is arguing on the previous statement of the Tosefta, or just clarifying it. He says that it depends on whether the farmer is intending to somehow store the grapes or immediately sell them. If the farmer intends to immediately sell them then it is not considered a normal harvest and therefore he is exempt from leaving Peah. However if he intends to eat them at home that is considered to be a form of storage, although it is not as prolonged as storing wine, and therefore he would obligated in leaving Peah. Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 3:2, Daf 16b) also adds that even according to Rebbi Yehudah it depends on the farmers’ intent of why he plucked the grapes. If he thinned all of his vines in order to improve grape yield or grape quality then that is not considered to be a real harvest and therefore if he ended up selling the thinned grapes he is still exempt from leaving Peah for them. But if he ended up eating them then Rebbi Yehudah says that he has to leave Peah for them. However if his original intent had nothing to do with the improvement of the crop or the yield and he plucked some of the grapes in order to eat them or sell them, because he wanted to receive immediate payment or simply have some for dinner, then it is considered to be a harvest and he is obligated in leaving Peah on everything.