Mishneh Pe’ah (“Corners”)

I started reading Mishneh Pe’ah as in the passuk (verse) –

VaYikrah (Leviticus 19.9, 10) “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corner [pe’ah] of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather the fallen fruit of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the L-RD your G-D.”

It’s quite interesting how Jewish society regulated agriculture and charity as is related in this Mishneh!

During our morning prayers, each morning we read from Mishneh Peah [1.1] which says, “These are the precepts that have no prescribed measure, the corners of the field, the firstfruit offering, the pilgrimage, acts of kindness and Torah study.”

Although Mishneh Peah [1.1] says, “no prescribed measure,” the Sages instituted that one should leave at least 1/60th of one’s field as Pe’ah.

This is an interesting number: In Gematria we find 60=Samech. The word samech means “to support,” as it states in the Shemoneh Esreh:14 “Someich noflim—You support those who fall.” This is why Shlomo said, “Lovingkindness and truth preserve the king; he upholds his throne by lovingkindness.” (Mishlei/Prov. 20:28)

The Sages state that when we harvest our field, we must leave a minimum of 1/60th of the corner of a Jewish field in “support of the widow, the orphan, the poor and the stranger!”

The root Samech [support] is related to the word mispeak – the verbs הִסְפִּיק(hispík, “to be enough, to suffice”), סיפק / סִפֵּק(sipék, “to supply, to satisfy”), and הִסְתַּפֵּק(histapék, “to have enough, to be satisfied”) are all formed from the root ס־פ־ק(s-p-k), which forms words (among others) with meanings related to “enough”.

HERE, the Torah is telling us that there are times, (in this case a harvest) when we must curb our desire for wealth, when we must say “ENOUGH” – I have enough.

2 thoughts on “Mishneh Pe’ah (“Corners”)

  1. I was wondering why HaShem gave the mitzvah of Pe’ah & was thinking it is because Avinu Avraham muzzled his camels to keep them from grazing in other peoples fields as a means of preventing theft!
    So why did HaShem command the mitzvah of Pe’ah? I suggest that it was in the merit of Avinu Avraham who chose to muzzle his camels.
    (RASHI to B’rashith 24.32)

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  2. Mishnay’ot Seder Zeraim Vol. II(a) – Pe’ah – Yad Avraham Artscroll Mishneh Series it is related in Mishnah Pe’ah 1.3 Rabbi Yehudah says: “If he left over a single stalk he can attach to it….” This statement of R. Yehudah has a foot-note which states, “Thus, the words, Somech lo are to be rendered: he can attach it (see Rambam Comm.). Rav, however, seems to have taken them to mean: he relies upon it. See pages 25-26 Mishnay’ot Seder Zeraim Vol. II(a) – Pe’ah – Yad Avraham Artscroll Mishneh Series – R. Yehudah holds that some peah must be left at the very end of a field in order for peah left elsewhere to have validity. [….] It seems that the note says peah at the end of a field “supplements” peah left [Azav – “abandoned or left” – viz, designated] elsewhere according to R. Yehudah’s holding.

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