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PE'AH ("Corner," or "Corner of the Field"):

Table of Contents

Name of a treatise of the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and the Palestinian Talmud, defining the laws set forth in Lev. xix. 9, 10, xxiii. 22, and Deut. xxiv. 19-22 which relate to the portion of the harvest to be given to the poor, and deal with the rights of the poor in general. In the Mishnah this treatise stands second in the order Zera'im, and is divided into eight chapters containing sixty-nine paragraphs in all.

Contents.
  • Ch. i.: Enumeration of things which, like the pe'ah, are not strictly defined in the written law. In this connection a list is given of the good deeds for which one is rewarded in this life, though this recompense is only an earnest of the real requital in the future world; e.g., making peace among men is one of such good deeds (§ 1); the amount of the pe'ah determined by the Rabbis (§ 2); the places where the pe'ah may be given (§ 3); field produce of which the pe'ah must be given (§§ 4-5); limit of time within which the pe'ah may be given (§ 6).
  • Ch. ii.: Means of separating fields or orchards from one another, so that they may not be considered as one field or one orchard in reference to the pe'ah (§§ 1-3); exceptions and special regulations, such as those concerning St. John's-bread-trees, two thrashing-floors, and two kinds of grain (§§ 4-6); cases in which the grain in the field has been cut by thieves, or uprooted and destroyed by the wind (§§ 7-8).
  • Ch. iii.: Special cases; fields of small area, partial harvesting at different times, common holdings (§§ 1-5); the size of a field which renders it liable both to pe'ah and, in many other respects, to the laws governing real estate (§ 6); how the validity of numerous regulations is dependent on the circumstance that a portion of a field has been retained (§§ 7-8).
  • Ch. iv.: Manner and time of day of giving the pe'ah (§§ 1-5); case of a non-Jew who adopts Judaism after his field is harvested (§ 6); cases in which the harvest is dedicated to the sanctuary and then redeemed (§§ 7-8); whether the pe'ah may be claimed for an individual (§ 9); concerning the gleaning ("leḳeṭ"; § 10); regarding grain in anthills (§ 11).
  • Ch. v.: Further details concerning the gleaning (§§ 1-3); whether a wealthy traveler who is forced to take pe'ah, etc., is obliged to return it when he reaches home (§ 4); the owner of a field may not prefer one poor person to another, nor help any one in gleaning, since this would be to the detriment of the rest (§ 6); things which are forgotten "shikḥah"; §§ 7-8).
  • Ch. vi.: Further regulations concerning things forgotten; things which come under this category, and cases in which they do so.
  • Ch. vii.: Rights of the poor in regard to fruit-trees and vineyards.
  • Ch. viii.: Time after which gleaning is permitted to all, even to those who are not poor (§ 1); credentials of the poor regarding their rights (§§ 2-4); the tithes for the poor and their minimum amount (§§ 5-6); the minimum which must be given to a poor traveler (§ 7); those who may claim the privileges of the poor-laws (§ 8); whoever accepts aid without needing it will become so reduced in circumstances that in time he will be obliged to accept relief; and in like manner he who, for the purpose of receiving aid, shams some physical defect or ailment will be afflicted in time with such defect or ailment; but he who tries to subsist without aid, even though he needs it, will in time become so prosperous that he will be able to aid others (§ 9).

The Tosefta to this treatise, which is divided into only four chapters, contains many details which supplement and explain the mishnaic treatise, and it also includes several stories and a number of ethical sentences, some of which may be quoted here.

Tosefta and Gemara.

A good intention, even if it has not been carried out, is credited to a person as though it had resulted in a good deed, while an evil intention is not charged to him so long as it is not carried out (i. 4). Lev. iv. 2 furnishes a basis for the remark that if he who sins unwittingly is considered a sinner, how much more evil is he who commits sin intentionally (iii. 8). Beneficence and kindness are worth as much as the fulfilment of all the other commandments of the Torah put together; but he who does not give to the poor is no better than an idolater (iv. 19-20).

The Gemara of the Palestinian Talmud discusses and explains the several sentences of the Mishnah and contains in addition a number of stories, sentences, and haggadic interpretations, of which the following may serve as examples: Hos. viii. 12 is interpreted to mean: "Though I had written for him the greater part of the Law, he would still be counted as a stranger." Israel is preferred above the other peoples since it has the Oral Law, which they may not easily obtain (ii. 4). Although all the people were very pious at the time of David, yet they suffered defeat in war because there was treason among them; but in the time of Ahab, although all the people were idolaters, they were victorious in their battles because there was unity among them and there were no traitors in the midst of them (i. 1).

W. B. J. Z. L.
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