|Tractate Peah, Chapter 2
Workers that were doing [work] by the owner [of the field]2 are not allowed to finish [harvesting] the whole field, but rather they have to leave the proper amount [of crops] for Peah (corners of the field).3 However it is not considered to be Peah until the owner [of the field] separates it for the sake of Peah.4
מסכת פאה פרק ב
פּוֹעֲלִין שֶׁהָיוּ עוֹשִׂין אֵצֶל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת אֵינָן רַשָּׁאִין לִגְמוֹר אֶת כָּל הַשָּׂדֶה אֶלָּא מְשַׁיְּרִין כְּדֵי פֵיאָה. וְאֵינָה פֵיאָה עַד שֶׁיַּפְרִישֶׁנָּה בַּעַל הַבַּית לְשֵׁם פֵּאָה.
- The Tosefta states a new law regarding Peah. It is not related to any Mishna.
- Literally: the owner of the house.
- See above Tosefta Peah 2:3, note 4 regarding the workers’ obligation to leave Leket. Although their obligation to leave Leket is of rabbinical origin, as I explained above in that Tosefta, their obligation to leave Peah seems to be of Torah origin. The Torah commands that the workers are responsible for ensuring that the poor people will get Peah, as much as the owner. Chasdei David proposes that the source of this law is the specific wording in the verses that command the Mitzvah (commandment) of Peah, which say וּבְקֻצְרְכֶם (Uvekutzrechem), “and during your harvest”. See Vayikra 19:9 and 23:22. The Hebrew expression “your” is written in the plural form referring to many people. If it would have been written in the singular form then it would obviously refer only to the owner of the field, however since it is written in the plural form, it must also be referring to someone else besides the owner, and that have to be the workers. The fact that it is a Torah obligation also seems to be implied by the wording of the Tosefta. By Leket the Tosefta said that if the workers do not allow Leket to fall then “we”, referring to the court, fire them. This is an obvious reference to the rabbinical origin of the law. However, here the Tosefta does not refer to the court in any way, but rather it says that the workers “are not allowed” to harvest the whole field and not leave anything for Peah. This implies that this prohibition is of Torah origin. You may wonder that may be the Tosefta could not say in this case by Peah “we fire the workers” since the crops were already cut and there is nothing to be done about that. However that is not an issue, because Bediavad (post factum) Peah can even be given to the poor from cut crops if it was not left standing in the field during the harvest, as was already mentioned above in Tosefta Peah 1:6. Therefore the Tosefta could have said that if the workers harvested the whole field and did not leave anything for Peah, then we fire them, so that they do not do this again on the next field or a separate section of it which may be obligated in a separate portion of Peah, and make the owner give Peah to the poor from harvested crops. However, since the Tosefta did not say that it makes sense that it tried to emphasize that it is a Torah obligation for the workers to make sure that they leave Peah. As with Leket, the workers are obligated to leave Peah even if the owner specifically told them not to do so, and if they do not then they violate a positive commandment of the Torah to leave Peah.
- The Tosefta clarifies that in order for Peah to be actually considered Peah the owner must designate it, verbally or in his mind, to be so. Even if the workers left Peah in the field, but the owner did not designate it to be Peah, such as in the case where he specifically told his workers not to leave Peah, then these crops do not become Peah, but rather they still belong to the owner and the poor people are not allowed to take them, as interpreted by the Rambam based on this and the next Toseftot. See Rambam (Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 2:14) and Kesef Mishna and Radvaz there. This is in contrast to Leket which becomes the property of the poor people as soon as the produce falls out of the farmer’s hands during the harvesting process and the owner does not need to designate it as such. See Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 7:3, Daf 32b and Terumot 6:2, Daf 34a) and Talmud Bavli (Temurah 25a). It is not explicitly stated anywhere that Shikcha also becomes the property of the poor automatically when it gets forgotten. Saul Lieberman in Tosefta Kifshuta writes that it does just like Leket and it is a reasonable assumption in my opinion.
Chasdei David suggests that the reason why Peah needs to be designated as such by the owner is because the Torah says (Vayikra 23:22) תַּעֲזֹב (Taazov), “leave” it to the poor people, implying that the owner must actively leave it to the poor and not just leave it in the field without a specific designation. However this explanation is not correct, because in that verse the Torah is talking about Peah and Leket together and it says תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם (Taazov Otam), “leave them”, meaning both Peah and Leket, for the poor people. So if his explanation would be correct then this law should apply to both Peah and Leket, however Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 7:3, Daf 32b and Terumot 6:2, Daf 34a) explicitly says that Leket does not require any designation by the owner and becomes the property of the poor automatically when it falls out of the farmer’s hands. I was not able to find another suggestion for a reason for this law or come up with my own.