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Zeraim (Agriculture) The Portion Of The Poor (Tractate Peah), The Babylonian Talmud In Selection

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The Babylonian Talmud in Selection, by Leo Auerbach, [1944] THE following have no prescribed measure: Peah, * First-Fruits, Festival-Offerings, deeds of kindness, and the study of the Law. And the following are the things the fruit of which a man enjoys in this world, but the capital fund of which remains for him in the world to come: The honoring of father and mother, deeds of kindness, and the making of peace between one man and another, but the study of the Law is greater than any of them. One should not leave Peah less than one-sixth of the field. And although there is no prescribed measure it should be fixed according to the size of the field, the number of the poor, and the need. One may leave Peah in the beginning or in the middle of the field. Rabbi Simon says: As long as he leaves at the end the prescribed measure. Rabbi Yehuda says: [paragraph continues] If he leaves but one stalk at the end, he has fulfilled his obligation as to Peah; but if not, whatever he left at the beginning or at the end is regarded as abandoned property. A ruling has been established as regards Peah: whatever is used as food, and has to be tended, and is raised from the soil, and is reaped at one time, and is brought in for storage, requires the leaving of Peah; and this includes grain and pulse. Of the trees, sumach, carob, nut trees, the almond, vines, the pomegranate, the olive, and date palm are all subject to Peah.   THE following serve as boundaries for a field, in all that concerns Peah: A river, a pond, a private road, a public road, and a public path. Also a private path that is used during the summer and during the rainy-season, uncultivated soil, fallow-land, and a different variety of crop. If one cuts the produce of one field for fodder, he makes thereby a boundary, this is according to Rabbi Meir, but the Sages say: It does not act as a boundary unless he ploughed it up. A stream, both sides of which cannot be cut in one operation serves as a boundary, according to Rabbi Yehuda. The hills that can be ploughed by a mattock, though the oxen cannot go through them with their plough, is considered one field, and is subject to only one Peah. Everything serves as a boundary for a sown field, but for trees a fence only serves as a boundary, but if the branches of the trees intertwine, then the fence does not constitute a boundary, and all is subject to only one Peah. FROM CHAPTER I   PEAH is given from what is attached to the soil. From vines and date palms, the owner takes down some fruit and distributes it to the poor. Rabbi Simon says: This applies also to nut trees. If ninety-nine of the poor vote that Peah be distributed, and one says that it should be left for them to help themselves, it is to be done according to the one because the law is in agreement with him. But it is not so with vines and date palms; if ninety-nine vote for helping themselves and one says it should be distributed, he is followed, because the law is in agreement with him. If one took some of the Peah and threw it over the rest, none of it belongs to him. If he fell upon it or spread his cloak over it, it must be taken away from him. The same applies to Gleaning and to Forgotten Sheaf. Peah must not be cut with a sickle and must not be uprooted with a hatchet, so that one will not hurt his neighbor. If a heathen reaped his field and then became a proselyte, he is exempt from Gleaning, from Forgotten Sheaf, and from Peah. Rabbi Yehuda says: He is subject to the Forgotten Sheaf, because this is given at the time of binding. What constitutes Gleaning? Whatever falls down at the time of reaping. If one cut a handful, or pulled up a handful, and a thorn pricked him and it fell from his hands to the ground, it belongs to the owner. If it fell on the inside of the hand or the inside of the sickle, it belongs to the poor; if it fell on the outside of the hand or the back of the sickle, it belongs to the owner. If it fell over the top of the hand or the top of the sickle, Rabbi Ishmael says: It belongs to the poor. Rabbi Akiba says: It belongs to the owner. FROM CHAPTER II   FROM a stack of sheaves beneath which no Gleaning has been taken, everything that touches the ground belongs to the poor. If the wind scattered the sheaves from the stack, one must estimate the amount of gleanings that would be gathered from the field and give it to the poor. Rabbi Simon ben Gamaliel says: One gives in proportion to the yield of the field. If a man sells a field the seller may take the gleanings, but the buyer must not take any. One must not hire workers with the stipulation that the worker's son shall gather the gleanings behind him. One who does not allow the poor to gather, or allows one, and does not allow another; or if he aids one of them, he is robbing the poor. Of such a one it was said: (Proverbs xxii, 28) Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set. (The Mishna reads the word "Olam" as "Olim" and translates the second part of the verse: for those that come up.) FROM CHAPTER VII   A POOR man who goes from one place to another should be given not less than a loaf worth one Pandion, and one Selah's worth of grain. If he stays for the night, he should be given his needs for the night. On the Sabbath he should be given three meals. If a man has food for two meals, he should not take any food from the public kitchen. If he has food enough for fourteen meals, he should not take anything from the charity chest. Money for the charity chest is to be collected by two, and should be distributed by three. If a man has two hundred Zuz, he must not take Gleanings, Forgotten-Sheaf, Peah, and Poor-man's Tithe. But if he has two hundred less one Denar, even if a thousand was given to him at one time, he may still take everything that is allowed to a poor man. If his money is pledged to a debtor, or for his wife's marriage contract, he may take of the poor man's portions. A man must not be compelled to sell his house or his tools. If one has fifty Zuz, and he trades with them, he must not take of the poor man's portions. He who does not need and takes will not die of old age, until he has been compelled to seek the aid of his fellow man. But one who needs and does not take any, will not die of old age, till he shall be in a position to aid others. Of him it was said: (Jeremiah xvii, 7) Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. And this applies also to the judge who renders a true verdict according to the evidence. And every person who is not lame, blind or dumb, but pretends that he is; shall not die of old age before he does become like one of them, for it was said: (Proverbs xi, 27) He that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him. And it was also said: (Deuteronomy xvi, 20) That which is altogether just shalt thou follow. A judge who accepts a bribe and perverts a decision shall not die from old age until his eyes have become blinded, for it was said: (Exodus xxiii, 8) And thou shalt take no gift, for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. FROM CHAPTER VIII 49:* Peah: corner of the field, the portion of the crop that must be left by the owner to the poor. See Leviticus xix, 9, xxiii, 22.

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The Portion Of The Poor (Tractate Peah)

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1 Ahmed M = "Many people think of Judaism as the religion of cold, harsh laws, to be contrasted with Christianity, the religion of love and brotherhood. This is an unfair characterization of both Judaism and Jewish Law."
2 Ahmed M = "A large part of Jewish law is about treating people with kindness. The same body of Jewish law that commands Jews to eat only kosher food and not to turn on lights on shabbat, also commands to love both Jews and strangers."
3 Ahmed M = "Give tzedakah (charity) to the poor and needy, and not to wrong anyone in speech or in business."