In this Tosefta there is a word in Syriac. Those readers who do not see this word properly displayed on their screens need to download the Estrangelo Edessa Syriac font here or OpenType Syriac fonts here.
|Tractate Peah, Chapter 2
Tosefta 21[If] the owner [of the field]2 gave3 Peah (corners of the field) to [specific] poor people and [before they physically took the produce] another poor person came and took [this Peah] from behind them, he [has legally] acquired it [and gets to keep it].4 [If] two poor people were [trying to] drive each other off5 from the bundled sheath6 [of Peah] and [another] poor person came and took it (i.e. the sheath of Peah that they were fighting over) from behind them,7 he [has legally] acquired it [and gets to keep it], because a poor person does not [get to] take [home] Leket (fallen stalks),8 Shikcha (forgotten produce)9 and Peah,10 until it falls into his hand (i.e. he physically takes it into his hands).11
מסכת פאה פרק ב
בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁנָּתַן פֵּיאָה לַעֲנִיִּים וּבָא עָנִי אָחֵר וּנְטָלָהּ מֵאָחוֹרֵיהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה זָכָה. שְׁנֵי עֲנִיִּים שֶׁהָיוּ מִתְכַּשִׁין עַל הַעוֹמֶר וּבָא עָנִי אֶחָד וּנְטָלוֹ מֵאָחוֹרֵיהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה זָכָה שֶׁאֵין הֶעָנִי לוֹקֵט בַּלֶּקֶט בַּשִׁכְחָה וּבַפֵּיאָה עַד שֶׁתִּפּוֹל לְתוֹךְ יָדוֹ.
- This Tosefta continues from the previous Tosefta with the discussion of the procedure how the poor people acquire Peah. It is not related to any Mishna.
- Literally: the owner of the house.
- The Tosefta does not specify how the owner of the field gave the produce to these poor people. It could have been done verbally, that the owner merely told them that they can take it or it could have been done physically, where the owner cut off the Peah from the ground himself and bundled it up all ready to be taken by the poor people. The Tosefta leaves it open on purpose, because its main point is to emphasize regardless how far the owner went to prepare this Peah for these particular people, as long as they did not physically take it themselves they did not acquire it and it can be taken by any other poor person.
- The Tosefta will explain in its next statement why this other poor person gets to keep it despite the fact that the owner promised it to someone else.
- The word מתכשין (Mitkashin) is an Aramaic word which comes from the Aramaic root כשש (Kashash) which means to drive someone off or chase away by hitting them. This word is closely related to the Syriac word ܟܬܫ (Katash), which means “to fight” or “be driven about”. In fact, in the first edition of the Tosefta this word is spelled מכתשין (Mekatshin), which looks exactly like the Syriac word. Saul Lieberman in Tosefta Kepshuta suggests that the correct spelling of the word in this Tosefta should be the way it appears in Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 4:2, Daf 21b) which is מתכתשין (Mitkatshin). All 3 forms of this word mean the same thing and I have left it in the main text the way it appears in the Vienna manuscript.
- In the Vienna manuscript this word is spelled עמור (Imur). Imur is the process of carrying bundles or sheathes of grain. Since the Tosefta is not referring to the process of carrying the bundles, but rather to the bundle itself, over which the poor people are fighting, it would make a lot more sense if the reading would be עומר (Omer), which means the sheath itself. In fact this is the reading that appears in the Geniza fragment, ENA 3630.7. Therefore I have changed this word in the main text according to the Geniza fragment.
- The Tosefta implies that the sheath of Peah was already lying on the ground all ready to be taken from before the poor people got there and they began to fight over it before any of them picked it up. This goes along with the explanation of the previous statement in the Tosefta regarding the owner of the field who set aside a bunch of Peah for specific poor people. With this illustration the Tosefta wants to emphasize that even if the owner of the field physically set aside bundles of Peah ready to be taken by these specific poor people, the bundles do not belong to them until they physically pick them up.
- For a description of what Leket is see above, Tosefta 1:13, note 5.
- For a description of what Shikcha is see above, Tosefta 1:13, note 6.
- In the Vienna manuscript the text appears as I have quoted it above. However, in the Erfurt manuscript and in the Geniza fragment, ENA 3630.7, there is an extra item added to this list and that is ובסלע של מציאה, and a Selah (type of coin) of a finding, meaning that if a person found a coin on the street he does not acquire it until he physically picks it up. I did not include this phrase into the main text, because it does not fit well here for a few reasons. First of all, it has nothing to do with a poor person since anyone can find a coin on the street. Second of all, it does not totally make sense why the Rabbis would enact that a person cannot acquire a found object by a verbal proclamation as is the basic Torah law, as I will explain in the next note. It is possible to resolve both of these questions. Perhaps only a poor person would pick up a Selah that he finds on the street, where as a rich person would not bother and would simply leave it lying there, although this is not compelling since a Selah is a relatively large coin in value. The Mishna (Bava Metzia 5:2) says that a monthly rent for a courtyard was a Selah, which makes it such a substantial sum of money that even a rich person would definitely pick it up. Also, the reason that the Rabbis would enact such a law by a lost object is because the Rabbis wanted to avoid disputes and court cases between people. So they enacted that only a physical acquisition gives a person the right to keep a found object, since then it is obvious that he is the new owner, where as a verbal acquisition can be easily disputed by another party. Since the text of the Tosefta flows much better without this phrase I have decided to leave it out from the main text of the Tosefta, based on the reading in the Vienna manuscript.
- It is not clear if this requirement of needing to physically take the gifts to the poor in order to acquire them is a Torah law or a Rabbinical law. It seems to me that it is a Rabbinical enactment which was done in order to make sure that all poor people would be able to get the gifts to the poor based on a first come first serve basis. If not for this enactment there would be a constant problem of where the owners of the fields would play favorites with the poor people who are their friends and save all of these gifts for them, thus leaving out many poor people without a means for sustenance. The reason I do not think that it is a Torah law is because by Torah law a person can acquire an object with a verbal proclamation of his intent without an action of acquisition (Kinyan), as stated by the Mishna (Bava Metzia 1:3) and explained further in Talmud Bavli (Bava Metzia 10a). Therefore by Torah law there should be no reason why a poor person cannot come over to the field and from a distance say that this Peah that is still standing there belongs to him. Obviously, by Torah law if the owner of the field specifically set it aside for him he should acquire it as well, since the whole discussion in Talmud Bavli (Bava Metzia 10a and Beitza 39b) if a person can acquire a lost object for someone else seems to imply that there is a potential Rabbinical enactment which prevents a person from doing so, however by Torah law there should not be any problem of one person acquiring an object for another person. It should be noted that there is an argument between Rebbi Eliezer and the Chachamim in Mishna (Peah 4:9) whether a rich person who is not eligible for Peah himself, and who is not the owner of the field, can acquire Peah for a specific poor person. Although the Talmud Bavli (Bava Metzia 9b) assigns complicated logical explanations for both opinions, from the gist of the argument it can be easily inferred that everyone agrees that by Torah law the rich person should be able to acquire Peah for the poor person and only due to a Rabbinical enactment he is not able to do so.