|Tractate Peah, Chapter 1
These [landmarks] interrupt [the field] regarding Peah (corners of the field) [and obligate the owner to give Peah again from the second half of the field]:2 a stream,3 a water reservoir,4 a private road,5 a public road,5 a private path,6 a permanent public path [regardless if it was established] in the summer time or in the winter time,7 [a section of] fallow land,8 [a section of] newly broken land,9 [a section with] a different [type of planted] seed [than the rest of the field],10 [a section of] harvested [land] for [the purpose of] destruction [of the produce prior to its ripening],11 three ridges of a furrowed field,12 and a ditch with water [that is wide enough that both sides of it] cannot be harvested simultaneously [by standing on one side of it and harvesting the opposite side].13 Rebbi Yehudah says, “If [a person must] stand in the middle [of the ditch even if it is without water in order that] he [is able to] harvest on this [side of the ditch] and on the opposite [side of the ditch, then it] interrupts [the field with regard to Peah], but if [he does] not [need to stand in the middle of the ditch in order to harvest on both sides of it, then the ditch does] not interrupt [the field with regard to Peah].”14 [If a section of the field] was eaten by grasshoppers,15 was eaten by locusts,16 was plucked by ants,17 was broken by wind or animals, everyone agrees18 that [if afterwards it was] ploughed over [then] it interrupts [the field with regard to Peah], but if [afterwards] it was not [ploughed over, but rather was left as it was after the damage, then] it does not interrupt [the field with regard to Peah].19
|מסכת פאה פרק א
אילו מפסיקין לפיאה: הנחל, והשלולית, דרך היחיד, ודרך הרבים, ושביל היחיד, ושביל הרבים הקבוע בימות החמה ובימות הגשמים, הבּוּר, והניר, וזרע אחר, וקוצר לשחת, ושלשה תלמים של פתיח, ואמת המים שאינה יכולה ליקצר כאחת. רבי יהודה אומר אם עומד באמצע וקוצר מכאן ומכאן מפסיק, ואם לאו אין מפסיק. אכלה חגב, אכלה גובאי, קירסמוה נמלים, שברתה הרוח או בהמה הכל מודים שאם חרש מפסיק ואם לאו אינו מפסיק.
- Mishnayot Peah 2:1 and 2:2 mention different landmarks that interrupt a field and obligate the owner to give Peah twice from both sections of the field, before and after the landmark. This Tosefta expands on that law.
- The Torah says regarding the Mitzvah (commandment) of Peah, “… you should not cut the corners of your field …” See Vayikra 19:9. Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 2:1, Daf 10b) learns out from the fact that the verse says “your field” that Peah must be left separately for each particular field. Meaning that if a person has two fields he is not allowed not to leave any Peah in one field and then leave double the amount of Peah in the second field, but rather he must leave the proper amount of Peah in each field. The Tosefta lists a list of landmarks that cut a single field in half therefore comprising two separate fields as far as the Mitzvah of Peah is concerned.
- Hebrew word נחל (Nachal) means a stream that does not necessarily flow with water all year around, as opposed to a נהר (Nahar) – a river, which does flow constantly. In the land of Israel there are a lot of streams, known by their Arabic name – Wadi, that are dry most of the year, but fill up with water in the winter during the rainy season. There is only one real river (Nahar) in Israel and that is the Jordan (Nahar Hayarden). The Tosefta is referring to the Wadi type of a stream. Obviously if a river would cut a field in half it would constitute a divider with regard to Peah as well, but the Tosefta mentions the stream, because it is less obvious of the two.
- There is an argument in Talmud Bavli (Bava Kama 61a) about what type of water reservoir שלולית (Shlulit) is. The Babylonian opinion of Rav Yehudah in the name of Shmuel explains that it is a place where rain water collects. The Palestinian opinion of Rav Bibi in the name of Rav Yochanan is that it is the main reservoir with water that feeds water to other ditches in the field. The name Shlulit comes from the Hebrew word שלל (Shalal) which means “booty” or “something that is gathered” and therefore makes sense according to both opinions. According to Shmuel it refers to the collected rain water and according to Rav Yochanan it refers to the water that is collected by the pits from the reservoir. According to Rav Yochanan the reservoir could be full with water all year around due to some underground source and therefore permanent, whereas according to Shmuel the reservoir only gets filled up when it rains and is therefore temporary. Shmuel’s explanation makes more sense, because it is obvious that a permanent water reservoir would constitute a divider of the field. However if the reservoir is only temporary then it is similar to the Wadi stream listed before and needs to be listed in the Tosefta since we might think that it does not constitute a divider of the field since it is not there most of the year when it does not rain. The modern use of the word Shlulit in Hebrew follows Shmuel’s opinion that it is a temporary body of water created by rain regardless of its size, such as a small puddle or a large flooded area.
- A road, known in Latin as Via, is a way where people could pass with carriages and animals in both directions. By differentiating between private and public roads the Tosefta is referring to the width of the road and not necessarily to its ownership. The Mishna (Bava Batra 6:7) states that a private road is 4 Amot wide and a public road is 16 Amot wide. Amah (plural: Amot) is a unit of measurement, usually translated as a cubit, used in the Talmudic times which approximately equals to 1.5 – 2 feet (55 – 70 cm). The measurement of the private road given by the Mishna is referring to the Roman law, known as the Law of Twelve Tables (Lex Duodecim Tabularum or Duodecim Tabulae). According to the Law of Twelve Tables (Table VIII, Law VIII) if a property owner was to make a road (i.e. a private road – Viae Privatae in Latin), “where a road runs in a straight line, it shall be 8 feet, and where it curves, it shall be 16 feet in width.” The Roman foot was approximately equal to 0.975 English feet (29.7 cm) (See William Smith, A dictionary of Greek and Roman antiquities, 2nd edition, 1859, entry Mensura, p. 757). Therefore 1 Roman foot roughly equals to ½ Amah, and 8 Roman feet equals to 4 Amot. The width of a public road (Viae Publicae in Latin) was not clearly defined in Roman law, so various public roads varied in width, but average Roman roads were only 16 Roman feet in width, not 32 Roman feet as would be implied by the Mishna (16 Amot = 32 Roman feet). For a discussion of the correlations between Roman road standards and the measurements given in the Mishna see Daniel Sperber, “The City in Roman Palestine”, Oxford University Press, 1998, chapter 7.
- A private path, known in Latin as Iter, is an unpaved narrow road across private land where people had the right to pass on foot to get to their fields. Travel on a path was intended only in one direction at any given time which is why the Roman law did not prescribe a minimum width for it. People could not pass on a private path with a carriage. Since the Tosefta says in the next statement that a public path had to be permanent it implies that a private path could even be temporary, meaning that it was not passable all year around, but only in certain months.
- A public path, known in Latin as Actus, is an unpaved narrow road across public land where people had the right to pass with a carriage. The Tosefta specifically states that the public path had to be permanent, meaning that it was passable all year around. It should be noted that in many editions of the Mishna this statement is reversed and the Mishna says that it is the private path that had to be permanent, but not the public path, in order to constitute a divider with regard to Peah. According to either reading it is not clear why a temporary path would constitute a divider for Peah in one case, whether it was private or public, but not in the other, since the width of either path was roughly the same.
- Fallow land is land where nothing has been planted during a particular season. If a field is planted with crops every single year non-stop then the soil gets depleted of its nutrients and crops do not grow well. Therefore farmers would leave whole fields or sections of fields fallow for a season so that the soil could replenish its nutrients.
- Newly broken land is referring to fallow land that has been ploughed for the first time. Such land does not produce very good harvests in the first season or two. Therefore it constitutes a divider with regard to Peah since agriculturally it is significantly different from the rest of the field.
- For example, if in a wheat field there was a strip of land which was planted with cucumbers it would constitute a divider with regard to Peah.
- Early harvested produce was unfit for human consumption and was used as feed for animals. Usually there were separate crops planted for human and animal consumption. However, I suspect that if in a particular year crops that have been intended for animal feed have been damaged, a farmer may end up harvesting regular crops early before they fully mature in order to provide enough food for his animals. This was considered to be harvesting in a destructive manner since the produce was not allowed to be fully mature and fit for human consumption. It should be noted that the Mishna quotes this statement regarding harvesting in a destructive manner in the name of Rebbi Meir, and it quotes the Chachamim (Sages) who argue on Rebbi Meir and say that such a strip of land does constitute an interruption of the field. Since the Chachamim are the majority the Halacha (law) would follow their opinion. However the Tosefta states this law anonymously implying that it is the Halacha.
- A ridge is a small bump that goes in a line across the field. A furrow is a dip in the ground created by the plough. The ridges and furrows were created by the plough since the traditional ploughs turned the soil over in one direction only and therefore when the soil was pushed to the side it created a ridge. Depending how deep the plough was pushed into the ground the furrow and ridge could have been made bigger or smaller. I would assume that farmers made three ridges next to each other in order to create some kind of a visible marker in the field that would divide two different plots. Since this was a division marker it also divided the field with regard to Peah.
- This is probably referring to the ditches that were used to irrigate the field. Since they were not used as dividers, but rather is pipes as long as they were narrow enough that a farmer could stand on one side of the ditch and harvest the crops on the opposite side of the ditch it was considered to be a part of the field and not a divider. However if the ditch was wide enough that farmer could not harvest the opposite side of the ditch from his side it was considered to be a divider with regard to Peah despite the fact that it was not intended to be so.
- It is not clear how Rebbi Yehudah argues on the Tanna Kama since both of them seem to say that if the farmer can stand on one side of the ditch and harvest the opposite side then it does not constitute a divider, but if the farmer cannot reach the opposite side of the ditch and must step inside the ditch itself in order to reach the opposite side then it does constitute a divider with regard to Peah. Due to this problem the Vilna Gaon adds an extra word into Rebbi Yehudah’s statement so it reads as follows: “אם עומד באמצע ואינו קוצר מכאן ומכאן מפסיק …” – If [the farmer] is standing in the middle [of the ditch] and he cannot harvest on both sides [because he cannot reach either side from the center of the ditch, then] it interrupts [the field with regard to Peah …], but if he can reach each side from the center of the ditch, even though he cannot reach the opposite side of the ditch from the other side of the ditch then it does not interrupt the field. However the Tanna Kama is more stringent than Rebbi Yehudah and holds that even if he can reach each side of the ditch by standing in its center and yet he cannot reach the opposite side of the ditch while standing on one side then it does interrupt the field with regard to Peah. However this textual emendation was the Vilna Gaon’s invention and is not supported by any manuscripts. Saul Lieberman in Tosefta Kepshuta solves the problem of this argument differently without any textual emendations. He says that they do not argue about the width of the ditch, but rather whether the ditch contains water in it or not. According to his explanation Rebbi Yehudah is more stringent than the Tanna Kama and he holds that the ditch interrupts the field if the farmer cannot reach the opposite side even if the ditch does not contain any water. However the Tanna Kama holds that in interrupts the field only if it has water in it, however if it does not have any water in it then it does not interrupt even if the farmer cannot reach from one side of the ditch to the other. I have chosen to explain the Tosefta according to Lieberman’s explanation, because it does not require any textual emendation, even though I admit that it is somewhat forced into the text.
- Hebrew word חגב (Chagav) refers generally to all short-horned grasshoppers of the family Acrididae that are Kosher, as mentioned by the Torah. See Vayikra 11:22. Talmud Bavli (Chulin 65a) quotes a Beraita that says that a Chagav is a נדיין (Nadyan), per the correct reading in the Aruch (entry נדיין) and not גדיאן as in the printed editions of Talmud Bavli. Aruch Hashalem (entry נדיין) says that Nadyan comes from the Persian word Nida which means “to call” referring to the grasshoppers chirping and twittering ability which is their mating call. This of course does not provide a specific hint to the particular species of grasshoppers. Tosefta Chulin 3:9 lists four identification marks of a Chagav that makes it Kosher. There are a bunch of different grasshopper species that live in the Land of Israel or migrate from Egypt or the Arabian peninsula and fit this description so there is simply not enough information to identify the specific species. Most probably the word Chagav refers to all species of grasshoppers that fit this vague description and therefore I have simply translated it as grasshopper.
- Aramaic word גובאי (Govai) refers generally to locust. The same Beraita in Talmud Bavli (Chulin 65a) identifies Govai with the ארבה (Arbeh), as mentioned by the Torah, which means locust. See Vayikra 11:22. Locust is the swarming phase of short-horned grasshoppers of the family Acrididae. It is simply a behavior of the grasshoppers when they gather in large groups and start consuming crops in large quantities, even though normally grasshoppers are solitary insects. As was mentioned in the previous note the word Govai does not refer to a particular species of locust, because the signs that define it are very vague.
- The Tosefta is most probably referring to the most common genus of ants found in Israel – Messor, known in Hebrew asנמלת הקציר – Harvester ant. These ants live in fields and collect seeds for their nests. There are a few species of the Messor genus of ants that live in Israel, such as Messor Semirufus, Messor Ebeninus, Messor Arenarius Ratus, Messor Aegyptiacus and Messor Arenarius, all of which exhibit similar behavior. They can cut down significant amounts of crops that contain seeds like wheat and barley.
- Since the Tosefta mentioned an argument between Rebbi Yehudah and the Tanna Kama it now clarifies that everyone agrees regarding this next statement.
- Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 2:1, Daf 11b) explains that the reason that he is only obligated in Peah if he ploughed the land afterwards is because in order to become obligated in Peah the farmer has to do an act of harvesting, as was explained earlier in Tosefta Peah 1:1, note 9. Since in this case the crops were not harvested by the farmer, but rather were damaged by some outside force they never became obligated in Peah and crops that themselves are not obligated in Peah cannot interrupt the field with regard to Peah. However a ploughed section of land does interrupt the field with regard to Peah was stated earlier in the Tosefta and therefore in order for this section of crops to interrupt the field it has to be ploughed over. Obviously the Tosefta is talking about that the damaged crops were the same kind of crops as the rest of the field, since a different kind of crops interrupts by itself was stated above.
Black Harvester ants from Israel. נמלת קציר שחורה – Messor Ebeninus. Photo: Amir Weinstein.