|Tractate Peah, Chapter 2
Tosefta 11[If a poor person] took a section of Peah (corners of the field) [that was standing in the field] and threw it on the remaining [Peah that is still standing2 in order to cover it up so that other poor people would not see it],3 he does not get [to keep] any of it (i.e. standing Peah on top of which he threw the Peah which he already took).4 Rebbi Meir says, “We5 fine him and take away from him [both] this (i.e. Peah which he took legitimately) and this (i.e. Peah on top of which he threw his legitimate Peah in order to steal it from other poor people).”6
מסכת פאה פרק ב
נָטַל מִקְצָת פֵּאָה וְזָרַק עַל הַשְּׁאָר אֵין לוֹ בָהּ כְּלוּם. רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר קוֹנְסִין אוֹתוֹ וְנוֹטְלִין הֵימֶנּוּ זוֹ וָזוֹ.
- Mishna Peah 4:3 states that if a poor person already took some Peah from the field and then decided to steal more Peah from other poor people by taking the stalks that he already took and throwing them on top of Peah that is still standing in the field in order to cover it up and this way preventing others from taking it, he does not get to keep it. Our Tosefta restates the Mishna’s law and adds to it the opinion of Rebbi Meir regarding this case.
- This particular case is talking about produce that can be covered up by other stalks, such as grains. It would be possible to throw a bunch of cutoff grain on top grain that is still growing and this way concealing it from passersby.
- Poor people are only allowed to take as much Peah as they can carry away in a single shot, meaning that they must detach it from the ground in order to acquire it. They are not allowed to try to hide some of it in the field while it is still attached to the ground in order to take it later. This law is explained in more details in the next Tosefta. However, it is implied from this and the next Toseftot that if a poor person was to cut off a lot of produce and pile it up on the ground, he would be allowed to keep it and no one else would be allowed to take it away from him since by detaching it he acquired it, even though technically he is not able to carry all of it away in one shot. Since there is no limit on how much Peah a single poor person is allowed to take at a given time the Tosefta must be talking about a case when a poor person simply was not able to carry away all of the Peah and did not want to or think about that he could have detached it and piled it up on the side of the field to carry away later. He took as much as he possibly could and then he wanted to bring that back home and come back and take more Peah. However he wanted to make sure that while he is walking back and forth no one else comes and takes the Peah that is still standing in the field. Therefore he decided to hide it from others by covering it up with some Peah that he already took. It is also possible that after he saw how much Peah was still available he went to get some kind of a wagon or a cart in order to be able to carry more away, so he took the Peah that he was holding in his hands and used it to cover up the Peah that was still standing so that no one would take it until he comes back for it.
- I have explained the meaning of this phrase according to the explanation of the Rash Mishantz in his commentary on Mishna Peah 4:3. When the Tosefta says that he does not get any of it, it is referring only to the Peah that is still standing that he covered up. However the Peah that he already cut off and used to cover up the standing Peah belongs to him legitimately and he gets to keep it. The reason I have chosen this explanation is because it makes more sense in the text, since the Tosefta implies that Rebbi Meir comes to argue on this statement of the Tanna Kama. Since Rebbi Meir says that he does not get to keep both Peahs due to a fine it must mean that the Tanna Kama meant that he does get to keep the Peah that he took legitimately. Also the phrase Ein Lo Ba Klum literally means “he does not have anything in it”, which implies that the word “it” is referring to the last object of discussion, namely the Peah that is still standing that was covered up.
- “We” is used here as a royal we, referring to the court. If other poor people would go to court and complain that this particular individual tried to hide Peah from them the court would fine him and order him to return back to the field both the Peah that he took legitimately and the Peah that he tried to hide. After he returns it, it can be retaken again by other poor people.
- Rebbi Meir argues on the Tanna Kama and says that since this person tried to steal Peah from other poor people by hiding it he gets fined and he does not get to keep any Peah, not the one that he took legitimately and not the one that he tried to hide.
The Rambam in his commentary on the Mishna (Peah 4:3) and in the Mishneh Torah (Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 2:18) seems to imply that Rebbi Meir is not arguing on the Tanna Kama, but rather comes to explain what the Tanna Kama meant to say. The way this is implied by the Rambam is because the Rambam quotes Rebbi Meir’s Halacha (law) as if it was the Mishna’s main intent and not an argument between them. According to this explanation the Tanna Kama also meant to say that he gets fined and does not get any Peah at all. Since the phrase that the Tanna Kama used is obscure Rebbi Meir had to clarify it. I have to admit that this explanation does not fit very well with the structure of the Tosefta, since the Tosefta seems to imply that Rebbi Meir argues on the Tanna Kama as I already mentioned in the previous note. It is possible that the reason the Rambam explained the Mishna this way is because Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 4:2, Daf 21a) quotes his opinion as a comment upon the Mishna and not as a descending opinion, although technically the Yerushalmi could be viewed either way. The Yerushalmi does not quote our whole Tosefta, but only Rebbi Meir’s opinion thus implying that the Halacha follows Rebbi Meir, which pushed the Rambam to rule like him. I would to suggest that the argument between the Rash Mishantz and the Rambam is really an argument between the Tosefta and the Yerushalmi. Since the Yerushalmi does not quote the whole Tosefta, but only Rebbi Meir’s opinion and begins its quote with the words Tanni Beshem Rebbi Meir (it was taught in a Beraita in the name of Rebbi Meir), it is not quoting the Tosefta, but rather a different Beraita and uses it to argue on the Tosefta, that Rebbi Meir is really only explaining the Mishna and is not arguing on it, as opposed to the Tosefta which quotes both opinions one after the other to imply that they are arguing on each other.