|Tractate Peah, Chapter 2
A [single] stalk [of grain] that is [lying on the ground]2 among the standing crops [that have not been harvested yet] belongs to the owner [of the field, and is not considered to be Leket (fallen stalks)].3 [A single stalk of grain that is still standing attached to the ground]4 in the harvested area belongs to the poor people, [because it is considered to be Leket. However, if] a single stalk of grain is lying on the ground] half way among standing crops and half way in the harvested area, [then] he (i.e. the farmer) should take it and throw it behind him5 [so that it will land in the harvested area and it will be obvious to the poor people that it is Leket], because [something that is in reality] doubtfully Leket,6 is [officially considered to be] Leket.7
מסכת פאה פרק ב
.וֹלֶת שֶׁבַּקָּמָה הֲרֵי הִיא שֶׁל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת, שֶׁבַּקָּצִיר הֲרֵי הִיא שֶׁל עֲנִיִּים, חֶצְיָהּ בַּקָּמָה וְחֶצְיָהּ בַּקָּצִיר נוֹטְלָהּ וּמַשְׁלִיכָהּ לַאֲחוֹרָיו שֶׁסָּפֵק לֶקֶט לֶקֶט
1. Due to the vague language of this Tosefta it can possibly be related to one of two different Mishnayot, Mishna Peah 4:10 and 5:2. Based on the order of the Toseftot it should be related to Mishna Peah 4:10, because the next Tosefta is clearly related to Mishna Peah 4:11. However based on the wording of this Tosefta it does not really match the language of Mishna Peah 4:10 and instead more fits with the Mishna Peah 5:2. Since the language of our Tosefta is really vague it can be interpreted in a number of ways and can be made to fit with either of the Mishnayot. I have decided to explain this Tosefta in a way that fits its language best without trying to work it out with the expressions of the Mishna on which it comments.
Mishna Peah 4:10 states that classification of stalks as Leket depends on the way the stalks were harvested. The Mishna is very vague in its classification and there are multiple of ways of understanding it, but in general the classification of stalks as Leket depends on whether they were harvested in a normal fashion which indicates that the owner intended to harvest them in that way as they accidentally were dropped. However, if the stalks were harvested in an abnormal fashion, such as with the back of a sickle instead of with its cutting part then the dropped stalks are not considered to be Leket, because we assume that the owner did not mean to cut them that way and therefore they were not considered to be properly harvested, which makes them still belong to the owner and they are not Leket. This Mishna does not say anything about where the stalks have landed physically in the field after they were cut off.
Mishna Peah 5:2 states that if there is a single standing stalk in the harvested area then its designation as Leket depends on how close it is to the remaining standing crops that have not been harvested yet. If it is close enough to the unharvested standing crops that it can be cut off with a sickle in one swing together with some of the standing crops then it belongs to the owner and is not considered to be Leket. However, if it is further away from the unharvested standing crops that it can only be cut off by itself without any other crops then it belongs to the poor people and is considered to be Leket.
According to my explanation of this Tosefta, the Tosefta states the rules for the classification of fallen stalks as Leket based on the location of the stalk in the field after the harvest relative to the areas which have been harvested already and have not been harvested yet. All three cases in the Tosefta are talking about a stalk which has been accidentally bypassed by the farmer during the harvest, either as a stalk dropped on the ground during the harvest or a stalk that was simply left standing by itself, because the farmer missed it with his sickle as he was cutting the crops.
Partially harvested wheat. Photo: Lars Plougmann. Notice the still standing unharvested crops in the left upper corner of the image and a harvested area on the bottom and the right sides if the image. The three cases of the Tosefta discuss stalks in these two areas.
2. If this stalk is located among the still standing crops that have not been harvested yet then the only way for it to be identifiable is Leket is if it is detached and lying on the ground among the standing stalks. If this stalk is still attached to the ground then it is simply a part of the unharvested standing stalks and obviously belongs to the owner.
3. The reason that a fallen stalk in the unharvested area is not considered to be Leket is because we assume that it did not fall there due to the farmer harvesting the crops in a neighboring area, but rather for some other reason. Fallen stalks can be classified as Leket only if they fell as a result of the farmer harvesting the crops, however if they fell for any other reason they are not Leket and still belong to the owner.
4. It is possible to explain this particular case in two ways, either that it is referring to a fallen stalk lying on the ground or to a standing stalk still attached to the ground which was accidentally kipped over by the farmer. The first possibility is that the stalk was cut off by the farmer, fell on the ground and is now lying in the harvested area where there are no more crops. This by definition is the classic case of Leket to which the Torah refers, and therefore it is my humble opinion that there is no need for the Tosefta to state this case since it is directly meant by the Torah in its definition of Leket and is obvious to everyone. Therefore it seems to me that the Tosefta is referring to the other possibility where the stalk was accidentally missed by the farmer and it is still standing attached to the ground. Since the stalk was technically never cut off we might think that it still belongs to the owner and is not Leket. Therefore the Tosefta is coming to teach us that since this stalk ended up in the harvested area as a result of the harvesting process it is considered to be Leket and therefore belongs to the poor people.
If we follow this explanation then the Tosefta is arguing on Mishna Peah 5:2. The Mishna says that such a stalk would be considered Leket only if it is far away from the still standing crops that it cannot be cut off together with them, but if it is close then it is not considered to be Leket. However the Tosefta does not make such a differentiation and implies that regardless of this stalks location relative to the unharvested area it is still considered to be Leket. To me this seems to be even a greater proof why the Tosefta specifically had to mention this case. Obviously it wanted to emphasize its different position on this law from the Mishna. Saul Lieberman in Tosefta Kifshuta points out a problem with this explanation. Most commentators on the Mishna consider this particular case to be a case of Shikcha (forgotten sheaves) and not of Leket, because the stalk was literally forgotten standing in the field as opposed to being dropped. However our Tosefta in its last statement implies that it is talking about Leket and not Shikcha. However, I am not sure that this is a real issue, because the Tosefta states three different cases and it specifically does not say what the first two cases are cases of Shikcha or Leket. Only the last case is clearly a case of Leket. It is possible that the Tosefta included a case of Shikcha among two cases of Leket, because of the similar situation in which they occurred. It is also possible that the Tosefta does not agree with this explanation that this particular case is a case of Shikcha and instead it holds that this is a case of Leket since it was a stalk that was bypassed accidentally as a result of the harvesting process, as opposed to Shikcha which generally refers to crops that already have been harvested, but not yet brought into the silo from the field and were forgotten by the farmer in the field.
If these problems presented by Lieberman bother you then you can always fall back on the basic explanation that the Tosefta is merely talking about the classic case of Leket where the fallen stalk simply fell in the harvested area and is therefore Leket. In this case the Tosefta would be in agreement with the Mishna regarding the case of a single standing stalk, since it is not talking about that case at all. However, to me that explanation is inadequate for the reasons that I already mentioned.
5. The Tosefta uses the expression “behind him” to emphasize that such a stalk can be noticed by the farmer as he cuts his last batch of crops and then stops for the day leaving the rest of the crops still standing in the field, thus unharvested crops being in front of him and harvested area being behind him. The Tosefta emphasizes that the farmer should take notice and should make sure that the poor people would not be confused by such a stalk thinking that maybe it still belongs to the owner, but rather the farmer should pick the stalk up and throw it in the harvested area so that it would be clear to the poor people collecting Leket that this stalk is left there for them as Leket.
6. Since a stalk in the unharvested area belongs to the owner and a stalk in the harvested area belongs to the poor people, a stalk which lying half way in each zone is technically in a doubtful situation and has a special status of doubtfully Leket.
7. The Tosefta states a rule that any case in which a stalk has the special status of being doubtfully Leket, we always consider it as if it is really Leket and therefore it has to be left for the poor. Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 4:7, Daf 24b) lists three possible reasons for this rule, all of which are based on derivations from verses from the Tanach, which are obviously not real derivations, but rather Asmachtot (references from the Tanach for a Rabbinical law). The Rabbis had enacted such a rule in order to make sure that the farmers respect the poor and properly treat them, especially since the amount of crops in question is really miniscule.
In Mishna Peah 4:11 this rule that what is doubtfully Leket is considered to be actual Leket is stated in the name of Rebbi Meir. Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 4:7, Daf 24a-b) in its discussion of Rebbi Meir’s opinion implies that the Chachamim (Sages) argue on him and do not hold of this rule, leaving crops in this doubtful status as such. However, the Tosefta by quoting this rule anonymously implies that this is a universal opinion accepted by everyone and therefore not being disputed.