|Tractate Peah, Chapter 1
A person gives Peah (corners of the field) from the beginning of the field,2 and in the middle [of the field], and in the end [of the field].3 But if he gave either [only] in the beginning [of the field], or [only] in the middle [of the field], or [only] in the end [of the field], he has fulfilled his obligation [of giving Peah to the poor].4 Rebbi Shimon says, “If he gave either [only] in the beginning [of the field], or [only] in the middle [of the field], or [only] in the end [of the field] it is considered to be Peah, but he [still] needs to give the proper amount5 [of Peah] in the end [of the field].”6 Rebbi Yehudah says, “If he left [at least] one stalk [in the end of the field,] he can add to it [from other parts of the field to make up the minimum amount and] it counts for him as Peah. But if [he did] not [leave even one stalk at the end of the field] he only gives [what he left in the beginning and the middle of the field [to the poor] as ownerless [produce, but not as Peah].” Rebbi Yehudah said, “When do we say this [that he can add the produce in the end of the field to the produce left in other parts of the field and all of it counts as Peah]? At the time that he [actually] gave Peah [by leaving at least one stock in the end of the field] and then he wants to add [to it more produce from other parts of the field].”7, 8
מסכת פאה פרק א
נותן אדם פיאה מתחילת השדה ובאמצע ובסוף. ואם נתן בין בתחילה בין באמצע בין בסוף יצא. רבי שמעון אומר אם נתן בין בתחילה בין באמצע בין בסוף הרי זו פיאה וצריך שיתן בסוף כשיעור. רבי יהודה אומר אם שייר קלח אחד סומך לו משום פיאה ואם לאו אין נותן אלא משום הפקר. אמר רבי יהודה במה דברים אמורים? בזמן שנתן פיאה ומבקש להוסיף.
- Mishna Peah 1:3 mentions an argument between the Tanna Kama, Rebbi Shimon and Rebbi Yehudah about which parts of the field qualify as Peah. This Tosefta mentions the same argument with some additional clarifications.
- The Tosefta says explicitly that when it says beginning, middle and end it is referring to the locations of produce inside the field. However the Beraita in the Sifra (Kedoshim 1) says the same law as our Tosefta without the word “field” in it. Based on the text in the Sifra, Saul Lieberman in his commentary Tosefta Kepshuta (on this Tosefta), claims that some Rishonim (medieval authorities) explain that it is referring to the time of the harvest (i.e. beginning of the harvest, middle of the harvest and end of the harvest) and not to the physical location of the produce in the field. See Rashi (Shabbat 23a, Lesof Sadehu) and Rabeinu Hillel (Sifra, Kedoshim 1, Daf 40a, Veein Peah Ela Lebesof). However it seems to me that that is not the intent of these Rishonim, but rather they learn the Sifra in the same manner as this Tosefta as I will explain further. From the Tosefta it is clear that that is not the meaning of this law and that it is referring to the location of the left produce in the field, because the Tosefta says the word “field”. In fact, most other Rishonim learn it to mean exactly that. See Rambam and Rash Mishantz on Mishna Peah 1:3. According to this explanation it is a little difficult to understand what is meant by “the beginning of the field”, since fields do not really have a beginning and an end, but rather the center and the edges. Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 1:3, Daf 6a) implies that these three locations are relative to where the person began harvesting his field and they do not refer to constant points in the field. So the beginning of the field means the place in the field where the person began harvesting the crops, the middle of the field refers to the spot where he has harvested half of the crops and the other half still remains, and the end of the field refers to the spot where the last of the crops have remained after the rest of the field has been already harvested. This explanation is preferred by Rash Sirillio in his commentary on the Yerushalmi. The Ralbag in his commentary on the Torah (Vayikra 19:9) explains this logic of the Yerushalmi as follows. He says that the Torah does not care where the person started and ended harvesting his field. He could have started harvesting it from a corner in a spiral circle and the last patch of produce that remained from the harvest ended up smack in the center of the field, which is the location of the field which is most difficult to access. Still the Torah prefers this last remaining produce to be Peah despite the difficulty of access to it. The Torah does not care how hard it is for the poor people to get to the left produce as long as they can get to it. All the Torah is concerned with is that the farmer leaves the last of his produce for the poor. The Torah did not want the farmer to feel that his top priority is taking care of the poor and not of himself; therefore he is only required to leave the last of his harvested produce and not the first of it. In fact Tosefta 1:7 points out four reasons why the Torah preferred that Peah should be left in end of the harvest path. Physical accessibility to the produce is not one of those reasons. Therefore Rashi and Rabeinu Hillel that are mentioned by Lieberman mention the beginning of the harvest not because they were talking about the time of the harvest season, but rather the location of the produce in the field where the farmer began harvesting it.
- This first statement of the Tosefta teaches us that a person can give Peah in the same field in many different locations simultaneously. He can leave some Peah in the beginning of the field, where he began harvesting, then leave some more in the middle, after he harvested half of the field, and the leave some more in the end where he finished harvesting the field.
- The second statement of the Tosefta clarifies that even if the person left Peah only in one location in the field he has fulfilled his obligation of giving Peah regardless where that locations happens to be and he does not have to give any additional produce in the end of the field. The Tanna Kama (the first anonymous opinion) holds that not only by Rabbinical law, but even by Torah law there is no specific location in the field where the person must leave Peah. Therefore regardless where he left Peah he has fulfilled his obligation both according to the Torah and according to the Rabbis.
- See above Tosefta 1:1, note 8. Rebbi Shimon holds that the whole amount required by the Rabbis – 1/60th of the produce of that field must be located in the end of the field and not in some other location.
- Rebbi Shimon argues on the Tanna Kama and says that both by Torah law and by Rabbinical law he must give Peah in the end of the field (i.e. where he finished harvesting) and if he did not do so he did not fulfill the obligation of giving Peah. Therefore the whole amount required by the Rabbis must be located in the end of the field. However the person is allowed to add to the basic amount of Peah required by the Rabbis (1/60th) additional crops. These additional crops can be located anywhere in the field, even in the beginning or in the middle relative to where he began harvesting, and they are considered to be Peah, as opposed to just Hefker – ownerless produce. The difference is that Peah can only be collected by the poor, where as ownerless produce can be taken by anyone, even the rich.
- Rebbi Yehudah’s opinion is in between the Tanna Kama’s and Rebbi Shimon’s. Rebbi Yehudah holds that by Torah law the person must leave Peah in the end of the field (i.e. where he finished harvesting), however that applies only to the minimum amount required by the Torah, which is a single stock. The rest of it up to 1/60th is only required Rabbinically and the Rabbis did not require Peah to be left in the end of the field, but rather anywhere in the field. Therefore as long as the farmer left one stock in the end of the field he has fulfilled the Torah obligation and now he can leave the rest of it up to 1/60th in any location. However if he did not leave anything in the end of the field then he did not fulfill his Torah obligation of giving Peah and it is impossible to fulfill the Rabbinical obligation without fulfilling the Torah obligation first. Therefore none of the produce left counts as Peah, but rather as ownerless produce, which can be taken by either poor or rich. Obviously if the person wants to leave additional produce beyond 1/60th for Peah he can do so and it will also be considered to be Peah and not just ownerless produce, but only as long as the minimum requirements of Torah and Rabbinical law have been fulfilled.
- It should be noted that there are other explanations of the argument between the Tanna Kama, Rebbi Shimon and Rebbi Yehudah. For example, see the commentary of Rash Mishantz on the Mishna (Mishna Peah 1:3). I have explained their argument in a way which fits best into the language of the Tosefta.