|Tractate Peah, Chapter 1
Rebbi Shimon said, “Because of four things the Torah said [that] a person should only give Peah (corners of the field) in the end of his field [and not in the middle or in the beginning relative to where he began to harvest from].2 Because of theft from the poor, and because of wasting time of the poor, and because of suspicion, and because of cheaters.3 How so because of theft from the poor? That [the owner] should not see a time when there are no people there and he will say to a poor person who is his relative, ‘Come and take this Peah for yourself.’4 And how so because of wasting time of the poor? That the poor will not sit and watch [the field] the whole day and say, ‘Now he is giving Peah, now he is giving Peah’, but rather since [the owner] gives it in the end [of his harvest of the field, the poor person will] go and do his work, and [then] come and take [Peah] in the end [of his work day].5 And how so because of suspicion? That passersby should not say, ‘Look at so and so that he harvested his field and did not leave from it Peah, because so it says in the Torah, ‘You should not harvest the corners of your field …’ (Vayikra 19:9, 23:22)’6 And how so because of cheaters? That people should not say, ‘We already gave [Peah].’7 Another explanation.8 That he should not leave the good [portion of the crops for himself] and give [Peah] from the bad [portion of the crops].”9
מסכת פאה פרק א
אמר רבי שמעון מפני ארבעה דברים אמרה תורה לא יתן אדם פיאה אלא בסוף שדהו. מפני גזל עניים, ומפני בטול עניים, ומפני מראית העין, ומפני הרמאים. מפני גזל עניים כיצד? שלא יראה שעה שאין שם אדם ויאמר לעני קרובו בוא וטול לך פיאה זו. ומפני בטול עניים כיצד? שלא יהו עניים יושבין ומשמרין כל היום ואומרין עכשיו הוא נותן פיאה עכשיו הוא נותן פאה אלא מתוך שנותנה בסוף הולך ועושה מלאכתו ובא ונוטלה באחרונה. ומפני מראית העין כיצד? שלא יהו עוברין ושבין אומרין ראו פלוני שקצר את שדהו ולא הניח ממנו פיאה שכך כתוב בתורה (ויקרא יט:ט, כג:כב) לֹא תְכַלֶּה פְּאַת שָׂדְךָ. ומפני הרמאין כיצד? שלא יאמרו כבר נתננו. דבר אחר. שלא יניח את היפה ויתן מן הרע.
- The Tosefta explains now the opinion of Rebbi Shimon mentioned above in the Tosefta 1:5 and in the Mishna 1:3.
- As I already explained previously in Tosefta 1:5, note 6, Rebbi Shimon holds that both the Torah and the Rabbis required Peah to be given in the end of the field relative to where the person began harvesting from. Rebbi Shimon now explains that this was done for four good reasons.
- The Tosefta will now go into details and explain each of these four reasons.
- A person is not allowed to give preference to any particular poor person regarding the gifts to the poor. But rather all gifts to the poor are given on first come, first serve basis. Therefore if the owner of the field actually has told a particular poor person to take Peah or any other gifts to the poor it is considered as if he is stealing from other poor people. It should be pointed out that later on the Tosefta says (Tosefta Peah 4:2) that a person can give out Maaser Ani (Tithe to the Poor) to which ever poor person he wants as long as he gives him only a portion of it and not the whole tithe. Based on that Tosefta, Minchat Yitzchak in his commentary Shirei Mincha (on this Tosefta, Vayomer Leani) quotes the Or Zarua (Hilchot Tzedaka 22) who points out that this law must apply to Peah as well and to resolve the seeming contradiction between the two Toseftot he explains that Rebbi Shimon would agree that the farmer is allowed to give a portion of Peah that he has left from that field to a poor person of his choice, but he is not allowed to give all of the Peah to that poor person. When Rebbi Shimon forbids it, he must be talking about giving all of the available Peah to the poor relative of the farmer. I have to admit that since none of the other Rishonim (medieval authorities) mention this difference I am not sure if this law of Maaser Ani applies to Peah as well according to all opinions.
- This reason is puzzling, because it contradicts Mishna Peah 4:5. There the Mishna says that there were three designated times of the day when Peah was distributed, in the morning, at noon, and in the end of the day at Mincha time, which is about 1¼ hours before sunset. If there were designated times when Peah was distributed then there was no reason for the poor people to sit and watch the field the whole day so that they can take Peah as soon as possible. I would like to resolve this contradiction by proposing that Rebbi Shimon says these four reasons specifically according to Torah law, before any enactments of the Rabbis have been made. Therefore the Torah required that the farmer give Peah at the end of the field so that the poor do not have to wait the whole day. However the Mishna mentions a later enactment of the Rabbis who in order to improve the situation and reduce fights between the poor established three designated times when field owners would distribute Peah. Another possible explanation is that this enactment of the Rabbis mentioned in the Mishna was done not according to the opinion of Rebbi Shimon, but according to the opinion of the Tanna Kama mentioned earlier in Tosefta 1:5 that Peah can be distributed even in beginning or the middle of the field relative to the harvest. The Rambam rules according to both Mishna Peah 4:5 (Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 2:17) and the opinion of Rebbi Shimon in this Tosefta (Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 2:12) which implies that he did not hold like my second explanation, but rather these two opinions do not contradict each other.
- If the farmer would not consistently leave Peah in the end of the harvest then passersby would constantly suspect him of not leaving Peah. Obviously the assumption is that they would not judge him favorably and assume that he would leave Peah later, since that is not human nature. Rebbi Shimon mentioned in the quote of these passersby the verse from the Torah to emphasize how people think. They would look at another Jew and judge him that he is not fulfilling a commandment in the Torah and they would quote the verse in the Torah, because it would make themselves feel more religious as if they were saying, “Looks at us we are fulfilling a commandment in the Torah, but this guy is not.”
- This is referring tot the farmers who would cheat and not leave Peah at all. If Peah would not be left consistently in the end of the harvest then farmers can say that they already gave Peah and someone took it and therefore not leave any Peah at all. But since Peah was the last crops that they left in the field they would not have any excuse not to leave it.
- It is not clear if this second explanation for the forth reason is a part of the original statement of Rebbi Shimon or was added later by the editor of the Tosefta. I have assumed that it is a part of Rebbi Shimon’s statement.
- The farmer may encounter bad quality crops in his field throughout the process of the harvest. If he could leave Peah at any time, then he would always leave the bad crops as he encounters them. However since he had to leave the last remaining crops for Peah he could not leave bad crops, but rather had to leave whatever crops would be last. Obviously, if the last crops also happened to be bad crops then he could leave them for Peah, but the chances of that happening often were unlikely.