“The Mishnah Says” (REVISION)


The Mishnah Says”

oolphi rov ha’anavah

… and according to the abundance of generosity [lit. humility].

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.”

In Parshah Emor we read about the mitzvah of the ‘corners of the field’ [which must be left for the poor and the stranger]:

Parshah EmorVaYikrah (Leviticus) 23.22 “When you reap the harvest of your Land, you shall not completely remove the corner of your field during your harvesting, and you shall not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. [Rather,] you shall עָזַב azav (leave or ABANDON) these for the poor person and for the stranger. I am the L-RD, your G-D.”

Here, the Torah is discussing a particular mitzvah within the overall mitzvah of helping the poor: that of leaving leket, shich’chah and peah; while warning against theft by the inclusion of the phrase: “I am the L-RD, your G-D;” as will be explained below. Leket is the mitzvah of leaving fallen sheaves, shich’chah is the mitzvah of leaving forgotten bundles, and peah is the mitzvah of leaving a portion of the field of standing grain.

Six Categories

The Mishnayoth discusses the gifts due to the poor when fields, vineyards or trees are harvested, and the laws of giving charity in general. Six categories of obligations are discussed in the tractate, as follows:

  1. Pe’ah: “corner” – the portion of the crop that must be left standing for the poor, in accordance with Lev. 19:9 and Lev. 23:22
  2. “Leket”: “gleanings” – ears of grain that fell from the reaper’s hand or the sickle while the grain is being gathered during the harvest, as described in Lev. 19:9 and Lev. 23:22)
  3. “Shich’chah”: “forgotten sheaves” – sheaves left and forgotten in the field while the harvest is being brought to the threshing floor, as well as attached produce overlooked by the harvesters, as in Deut. 24:19
  4. “Olelot” – immature clusters of grapes, as in Lev. 19:10 and Deut. 24:21
  5. “Peret” – grapes that fall from their clusters while being plucked from the vine, as in Lev. 19:10
  6. Ma’aser ani” – the tithe for the poor, every third and sixth year of the tithing cycle, as in Deut. 14:28-29 and Deut. 26:12-13[1]

There are three gifts to the poor from the field: Pe’ah, Leket and Shich’chah; four gifts from the vineyard: Pe’ah, Shich’chah, Peret, and Olelot; and two from the trees: Pe’ah and Shich’chah. These gifts apply every year. In addition, in the third and sixth year of the Shmita cycle, a person is required to set aside the ma’aser ani (tithe for the poor).

The Mishnah teaches that the Torah defines no minimum or maximum for the donation of the corners of one’s field to the poor.[127] But the Mishnah also teaches that one should not make the amount left to the poor less than one-sixtieth of the entire crop. And even though no definite amount is given, the amount given should accord with the size of the field, the number of poor people, and the extent of the yield.[128]

The Mishnah says, HaKol l’phi godeel ha’sadeeh “It is all according to the largeness of the field”:

RAMBAM explains this to mean “according to the response” aynyah, and translates aynvah as yield.

“That is, if a person’s crop is bountiful and produces a greater yield than expected, he should respond to this Heaven sent blessing by increasing his peah allotment accordingly beyond the mandatory minimum [of 1/60th ].” Yad Avraham, Mishnayoth Seder Zaraim Volume II(a), (Pe’ah) Artscroll Mishnah Series, Mesorah, Page 22.

Rabbi Eliezer taught that one who cultivates land in which one can plant a quarter kav of seed is obligated to give a corner to the poor. Rabbi Joshua said land that yields two seah of grain. Rabbi Tarfon said land of at least six handbreadths by six handbreadths. Rabbi Judah ben Betera said land that requires two strokes of a sickle to harvest, and the law is as he spoke. Rabbi Akiva said that one who cultivates land of any size is obligated to give a corner to the poor and the first fruits.[129]

The Mishnah teaches that the poor could enter a field to collect three times a day — in the morning, at midday, and in the afternoon. Rabban Gamliel taught that they said this only so that landowners should not reduce the number of times that the poor could enter. Rabbi Akiva taught that they said this only so that landowners should not increase the number of times that the poor had to enter. The landowners of Beit Namer used to harvest along a rope and allowed the poor to collect a corner from every row.[130]

Mesechet Pe’ah [30 a] (of Yerushalmi)

In Mesechet Pe’ah [30 a] (of Yerushalmi) there is a debate between Baith Hillel and Baith Shammai as to which has more significance, Peah of VaYikrah (19.9, 10) or Peah of Devarim (24.19)?

Baith Hillel argues VaYikrah (Parshah Kedoshim, not Parshah Emor) while Baith Shammai argues Devarim.

VaYikrah (19.9, 10) reads, “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corner 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.”

Devarim (24.19) reads, “When thou reapest thy harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go back to fetch it; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow; that the L-RD thy G-D may bless thee in all the work of thy hands.”

According to Baith Hillel, the Sefer VaYikra text is the fundamental source text. It identifies two beneficiary groups. The Sefer Devarim text only intends to delineate more fully the members included in the beneficiary group that Sefer VaYikra refers to as “the poor”. Baith Shammai disagrees. It argues that the Sefer Devarim text is more significant. It delineates three beneficiary groups. The Sefer VaYikra text abbreviates its list of beneficiaries by referring to widows and orphans with a single descriptive term – ani the poor.

In considering this dispute it is important to note an observation made by the commentator on Talmud Yerushalmi, P’nai Moshe. He explains that the dispute between Baith Hillel and Baith Shammai does not suggest any actual contradiction between the passages. The convert, orphan, and widow are all entitled to Leket and the other agricultural gifts. However, the passage in Sefer Devarim mentions each beneficiary group specifically. The Sefer VaYikra passage combines the orphan and widow into a single group – the poor. P’nai Moshe further explains that the dispute between Baith Hillel and Baith Shammai is over which passage is more fundamental to the commandments discussed in the passages.

I suggest that Sefer VaYikrah is the more significant, fundamental text because it repetes the laws of Peah in Parshah Kedoshim and Emor, and, TWICE it contains the phrase or warning, – “I am the L-RD your G-D;” (See below, Rashi’s Commentary on this phrase @ page 11) whereas Sefer Devarim only includes the laws of shich’chah once (although admittedly with a promise of Blessing)! VaYikrah (19.9, 10) lists, Pe’ah, Shich’chah and Leket while Devarim singles out Shich’chah. However, this does not exclude Baith Shammai’s argument since he raises a case of doubt as will be explained below @ pages 7-8, and the Torah gives a stern warning concerning theft or oppression of the poor!

**** This bring us to an important question:

What is the mitzvah of leket, shich’chah and peah doing in this section of Parshat Emor which deals primarily with the Jewish Calendar and sanctification of holy days?

The Midrash (Torat Kohanim) asks this question, and it appears in Rashi’s commentary on the Torah:

Why did the Torah write of these in between the Regalim holidays? To teach you that whoever practices Leket [gleaning], Shikheha [forgetting], and Pe’ah [corners] and Ma’aser Ani [poor tithe] is regarded as having the Temple exist in his day and having sacrificed his offerings in it, whereas whoever does not practice these is regarded as having the Temple exist in his day and not having sacrificed his offerings in it.

Rabbi Benayahu Bruner is a Zohar rabbi who heads the Beit Midrash of Safed’s Academic College. He is the rabbi of several communities in Safed, and formerly headed the local Yeshivat Hesder.



This is one of three references in the Torah to pe’ah  and to gleaning (leket) and to forgotten produce (shikhhah).[1]  Pe’ah refers to the corners of a field; leket to material left after a harvest;[2] and to produce forgotten during the harvesting process.  They represent the three portions of a harvest that the Talmud requires be left for the poor, the widow and strangers in the community.  However, the laws originate from text in the Torah.  Indeed, they first appear in almost identical words just a few chapters earlier in Leviticus 19:9-10.  Moreover, similar verses on gleanings, with an extension to include olive trees and another to cover forgotten produce, will appear later in Deuteronomy 24:19-21.  These two occurrences are easy to explain.  The former is part of the Holiness Code where many rules are presented for a life that is both divinely inspired and humanely ethical; the latter appears in a place where many rules are recapitulated (and, in this case, extended).

But why is there a third mention here where it interrupts the instructions about how to celebrate Shavuot?  There are lots of explanations, but the simplest is likely the best: Shavuot is the first real harvest.  (Barley, which is harvested at Pesach, is regarded as an inferior grain – pace the Vegans among us – compared with the slower ripening wheat, which is harvested at Shavuot.).  It was particularly important that, at this time of joy, during the shortest of the three pilgrimage festivals (and therefore the one where men were least likely to come to Jerusalem), that farmers be reminded of their obligations to their poor neighbours as well as to their God.  The two are closely linked.  According to Hertz (522n), if they “failed to share God’s bounty with the poor, [their] observance of the festival would be unacceptable.”

<https://www.adath-shalom.ca/divrei/Emor2.htm> Failure to leave poor gifts causes an accuser!

Leket, Shich’chah and Peah are Time Dependent Mitzvot

leket, shich’chah and peah are included within Parshah Emor because the poor and stranger are “time dependent” on the landowner BEGINNING and ENDING his harvest, that he may bring Bikkurim and the priest may wave the Sh’tai HaLechem after the “two wave-loaves of two tenth parts of an ephah” have been brought from new grain and baked.

I suggest that the Torah is teaching us that even as Firstfruits Bikkurim, as well as Sh’tai HaLechem belong to HaShem, so to “the HarvestTime belong’s to HaShem!” When the corners of the field are left for the poor, the time of harvest is sanctified, and then time indeed, truly belongs to HaShem. For everything, EXCEPT HASHEM is dependent on someone or something else. HERE, the poor are dependent on the farmer for leket, shich’chah and peah, while the farmer is dependent on the early and late rains – that is, the farmer is dependent on the blessing of HaSHEM1 [as it says, “and I will provide rain for your land, the early and the late rains that you may gather in your grain, your wine and your oil!” Devarim 11.14] which is conditioned upon “love of HaShem,” as “and I will provide” follows after “And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the L-RD your G-D, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul,” Devarim 11.13.


Gershonides offers a[nother] perspective on the juxtaposition in our parasha. He observes that the festivals of Pesach and Shavuot both involve elements relating to the harvest season. On the “morrow after” Pesach, the Omer sacrifice is offered. This offering is brought from the first barley grain of the harvest. On Shavuot the Sh’tai HaLechem – the Two Loaves – are offered. This offering is the first grain offering of the harvest brought from fine wheat. Both offerings have a single theme. They are expressions of thanks to Hashem for the bounty of the harvest. They are intended to reinforce the recognition that we are dependant on Hashem for our wealth. Our wealth is not merely a result of our own wits and wisdom. We need the help of Hashem. Furthermore, Hashem does not bless us with this wealth so that we may do with it whatever we please. He requires that we use the wealth that He grants us as He directs. The mitzvot of Peah and Leket express the same theme. Hashem granted us this wealth. He granted it to us with the expectation that we will support the needy. It is not ours to use exclusively as we please.


The Minimum Area Peah is subject to: One sixtieth of a field.

R. Jacob b. Asher (a thirteenth-century Spanish commentator), the son of the Rosh and the author of the Arba’ah Turim, wrote in his commentary (Baal haTurim): וּבְקֻצְרְכֶם

“‘When you [plural] reap.’  Read it as ‘uv’kutzr–khem’ [separating the part indicating that the verb refers to ‘you’ in the plural] ‘in the harvest, khem [referring to the numerical value of the two Hebrew letters, khaf 20 and mem 40= 60]’ that one must leave 1/60 which is the minimum amount for pe’ah…

“To the poor and stranger leave them’ is put next to ‘You shall not steal’ to warn the owner not to steal from what belongs to the poor. Similarly, the poor person is warned not to steal from the owners by taking more than what is appropriate.” (Note: One must ask when is enough?)



Bikkurim, and Omer Offerings

In sanctifying time, the Torah includes leket, shich’chah and pe’ah, for the harvests are dependent on the early and late rains ([which] are time related mitzvah [Bikkurim, and Omer Offerings are] dependent on HaShem’s Blessing); as it says, 23.10 Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you come to the Land which I am giving you, and you reap its harvest, you shall bring to the kohen an omer of the beginning of your reaping. AND it says, “[…] that the L-RD thy G-D may bless thee in all the work of thy hands.”


The Mishnah says, “On the Sabbath he would say to them, ‘[Shall I cut on] this Sabbath?’ And they would say, ‘Yes.’ [….] Three times for each item, and they would say to him, yes, yes, yes.’”

And how did they reap the Omer? With great fanfare to dispel the teaching of the Baytusim [Boethusim] “who said the Omer is not reaped on the night after Yom Tov.” The Baytusim insisted the “morrow of the Sabbath” was the first day of the week following Pesach! Mishnayoth Menachoth 10.3

The phrase “morrow of the Sabbath” is critical to determining when to bring the Sh’tai HaLechem, the Two “Wave” Loaves on Shavu’ot, as it says: [after 7 weeks of 49 days]

23.17Ye shall bring out of your dwellings two wave-loaves of two tenth parts of an ephah; they shall be of fine2 flour, they shall be baked with leaven, for first-fruits unto the L-RD.” and 23.20 “And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first-fruits for a wave-offering before the L-RD, with the two lambs; they shall be holy to the L-RD for the priest.”


To Whose Merit Goes the Mitzvah of Peah?

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)

VaYikrah 23.21

And ye shall make proclamation on the selfsame day [….].”

Mishle 19.17 He that is gracious unto the poor lendeth unto the L-RD; and his good deed will He repay unto him. Tehillim 107.9 For He hath satisfied the longing soul, and the hungry soul He hath filled with good.

“Rather, You shall Open wide your hand….”

**** 1 And the L-RD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: The appointed seasons of the L-RD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My appointed seasons. 3 Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of work; it is a sabbath unto the L-RD in all your dwellings. {P} 4 These are the appointed seasons of the L-RD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their appointed season.

Midrash Torat Cohanim.



There the Midrash says: “How do we learn that we proclaim a leap year for the exiles who have left home but have not yet arrived in Jerusalem? Because it says ‘Children of Israel … God’s Appointed Festivals.’ Make the Appointed Festivals so that all Israel can participate.”

Notice that the verse begins with the words G-D’s Appointed Times” and ends with G-D saying, “these are My Appointed Times.” The switch from the impersonal, third person (“G-Ds”) to the more personal, second person (“My”) (as is the formula for our daily blessings), hints at the importance of meeting G-D personally. The Holy days and the Temple service are an appropriate time and place for such a meeting. As it says in Deuteronomy 16:16, “Three times a year shall all your males appear before Hashem, your G-D, in the place He shall choose; on the Festival of Matzos, and on the Festival of Shavuoth and on the Festival of Succoth, and he shall not appear before Hashem empty-handed.” And in a similar context, it says in Exodus 23:15, “they shall not see My face empty-handed.” “Seeing My face” is certainly a vivid way of describing a personal encounter with G-D. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Sanhedrin went to such lengths to enable each and every Jew to personally experience this Divine encounter.


Haftarah Emor:

Ezekiel 44.24 And in dispute they shall stand in judgment, according to My ordinances shall they decide it; and My teachings and My statutes shall they keep in all My appointed times, and My Sabbaths they shall sanctify.

“And ye shall make proclamation on the selfsame day [….].” 23.21

“[…] and that the stranger in thy gates may rest.” Sabbath rest belong’s to the stranger…..

“I have not transgressed any of Thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them.”

In the Third and Sixth Year Shemittah Cycle – Ma’aser Ani – the poor tythe declaration: Devarim 26.13


Because of four things

Rabbi Shimon said, “Because of four things the Torah said [that] a person should only give Peah (corners of the field) in the end of his field [and not in the middle or in the beginning relative to where he began to harvest from]. Because of theft from the poor, and because of wasting time of the poor, and because of suspicion, and because of cheaters. How so theft? That [the owner] should not see a time when there are no people there and he will say to a poor person who is his relative, ‘Come and take this Peah for yourself.’ How so wasting time? That the poor will not have to sit and watch [the field] the whole day, but rather since [the owner] gives it in the end [of his harvest of the field, the poor person will] go and do his work, and [then] come and take. How so suspicion? That passersby should not say, ‘Look at so and so that he harvested his field and did not leave from it Peah. And how so because of cheaters? That people should not say, ‘We already gave [Peah].’ Another explanation. That he should not leave the good [portion of the crops for himself] and give [Peah] from the bad [portion of the crops].”


“If there is no flour, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour ( Pirkei Avot 3:21).” Financial sustenance is necessary (but not sufficient) for Jewish life to flourish and thrive, and Jewish values are necessary (if insufficient) for financial resources to provide true sustenance to the Jewish people. If the values of Torah are not reflected in the ways that our communities approach the role of money, and its relationship to power and authority, its sustenance will be partial, supporting our institutions but not our underlying mission to live as a “Nation of Priests, a Holy People.”
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of HaShem.” Devarim 8.3


Two are and Three are not

A dispute arises in Mishnayoth Peah 6.5 between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai as follow –

Two grapes are peret, but three are not peret. Two ears are leket, three are not leket. These [rulings] are in accordance with the opinion of Baith Hillel. But concerning all of them Baith Shammai says: Three [belong] to the poor and four [belong] to the owner.

How can we resolve the dispute since the Mishnah says, “two are and three are not” and Shammai says, one for the proselyte, one for the orphan and one for the widow?

In the end analysis of the matter, Shammai creates a case of doubt! In cases of doubt, we rule in these Mishnayoth (4.11) in favor of the poor; as it is stated, doubtful leket is leket. (See: Yad Avraham, Mishnayoth Seder Zaraim Volume II(a), (Pe’ah) Artscroll Mishnah Series, Mesorah, Pages 138, 139).

In aiding the dispute between Hillel and Shammai in 30a, we might say that, alternatively, three is significant because Mishnayoth Seder Zeraim (Peah) lists, Pe’ah, Shich’chah and Leket, a set of three, like Shammai says.

Conceptually, or theoretically it is possible for the poor to accuse the owner of theft3 of these “gifts for the poor.” In such cases of doubt, we rule “doubtful leket is leket.” That is, where the case (“our harvest” qetzor) turns into one of animosity or adversarial, we rule in favor of the poor. How so? It is written, (Devarim 19.15) “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth; at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established.”

Or here (Devarim 19.15), creates cases of and necessitates doubt! That is, it (or, אוֹ oh the disjunctive) allows for a third witness to step forward and testify where doubt arises. A stranger, = one witness, an orphan = two witnesses, and a widow = three witnesses. In the end our Mishnah would explain that, ‘It is better for the land owner to avoid appearances of evil and have a generous, [lit. humble] heart!’ Thus, he avoids “the evil eye4.” (Mishley 21.4 “A haughty look, and a proud heart–the tillage of the wicked is sin.”) As it is explained, it “all depends on [his – the owner’s] generosity.” Mishnayoth 1.2, Yad Avraham, pages 21, 22. oolphi rov ha’anavah (“… and according to the abundance of generosity [lit. humility].)

As we can easily see from our quotes in Note 4 and from a careful reading of Shmoth 22, that HaShem issues a stern warning against oppression of the STRANGER, the WIDOW and the ORPHAN (a set of three, as Baith Shammai says); and, in fact we are reminded of the oppression of the Egyptians and our liberation from that oppression; and the Mishnah would say, “Remove not the landmark of them that came up.” Mishley 22.28, 23.10. See Mishnayoth 5.6, Yad Avraham, page 165.

Having a humble heart (a generous, good eye) demonstrates faith in the Creator that one’s generosity will be rewarded “over-abundently with Blessing;” as it says, “that He may establish His covenant which He swore unto thy fathers;” while one’s stinginess, scorn, proud look, or haughtiness demonstrates a lack of faith that the Creator has blessed the owner with a bountiful harvest! Devarim 8.11 “Beware lest thou forget the L-RD thy G-D, in not keeping His commandments, and His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command thee this day; […] 17 and thou say in thy heart: ‘My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth.’ 18 But thou shalt remember the L-RD thy G-D, for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore unto thy fathers, as it is this day. {P}

Also, Tehillim 146.9 “The L-RD preserveth the strangers; He upholdeth the fatherless and the widow; but the way of the wicked He maketh crooked.”

The Sages instituted that one may not use a sickle or spade to collect Peah:

4.4 The Mishnah says, “Peah may not be reaped with sickles or dug up with spades, so that they do not strike one another.” “The Rabbis sought to insure that the scramble for Peah should be safe. Accordingly, rules were issued governing the implements permitted for use when gathering Peah. [….] The Rabbis prohibited reaping Peah with these [types of] implements because of the danger of injury that they pose in the competitive Peah situation. The injuries that the Rabbis sought to avoid could be accidental as a result of overcrowding, or, intentional as a result of quarreling.” Yad Avraham, Mishnayoth Seder Zaraim Volume II(a), (Pe’ah) Artscroll Mishnah Series, Mesorah, Pages 108-109.

A Generous Eye

ha’anavah might be explained as, “a generous eye.” Pirke Avot 2.105 : As it is said, “The eyes of all wait for Thee, and Thou givest them their food in due season.”

It is written, “Let your eyes be in the field that they are reaping” (Ruth 2:9) which is to be explained with the verse, “He who has a good, generous eye will be blessed”. (Proverbs 22:9) The eye denotes wisdom, and in truth “looking” is the lower level of wisdom; as one looks and regards something, he brings blessing into that thing. For when he looks at an object, he knows that object is as nothing before the blessed L-rd – meaning that it is truly naught and nothing except for His divinity which is manifest within it….Without Him it is utterly naught, in keeping with the verse, “…but what are we?” (Ex. 16:7) Through this kind of look and regard, he draws down supernal energy to that object from the divinity of the blessed L-rd. This is the recondite sense of the verse, “He who has a good, generous eye will be blessed”: he brings blessing to that object. Kabbalah On-LineKosher Kabbalah From the Holy City of Safed, Israel. <https://www.chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/380102/jewish/519-The-Blessing-of-a-Good-Eye.htm> Mishley 22.9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

(See also, Kitzur Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 216: “Key concept – HaShem wants His Chosen People to be crowned with every admirable trait and quality. He want them to be generous and giving so that their souls are blessed. There is no doubt that when a man does not harvest a corner of his field and allows the poor to take freely of what grows there, the act positively influences his soul and helps to make him kindhearted 6. As a result the blessings of HaShem will abide in him. He will be statisfied with HaShem’s goodness and his soul will be glad.7 On the other hand, when a man harvests his entire crop and brings it all into his house – when the poor saw it was ripe and desired it to quell their hunger but he left none of it for them – he shows a selfish spirit and unfeeling heart. He surely invites evil upon himself.” Kitzur Sefer HaChinuch, Page 142) Mishley 28.27 “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack; but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.”

Hebrew עזב


Cognate with Arabic عَزَبَ(ʿazaba, “to be remote or absent”)


עָזַב (azáv) (pa’al construction, passive counterpart נֶעֱזַב)

  1. to leave, leave behind, depart
  2. to leave alone
  3. to abandon


show ▼Conjugation of עָזַב (see also Appendix:Hebrew verbs)


By the use of the word Azav, the Torah is telling us to abandon one sixtieth of our field for the poor and stranger to come and take.

Why does the Torah use the word, azav in VaYikrah 23.22?

Parshah EmorVaYikrah (Leviticus) 23.22 “When you reap the harvest of your Land, you shall not completely remove the corner of your field during your harvesting, and you shall not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. [Rather,] you shall עָזַב azav (leave or ABANDON) these for the poor person and for the stranger. I am the L-RD, your G-D.”

To teach personal responsibility of the poor and stranger. The Torah is telling us the poor and stranger must take the initiative to “help sustain oneself” as it says, “if I am not for myself, who will be for me”?!

This personal responsibility is implied by the definition of the word azav, to leave or abandon for the poor and stranger and is hinted at where

The Mishnah [4.11] says, “Ant-holes – [ choray ha’ne’malim] – [if] they are within standing grain, they belong to the owner; [if] they are after the reapers, the upper ones belong to the poor and the lower ones belong to the owner.

Ant-holes – choray ha’ne’malim – I.e., grain that found in ant-holes. [It is common for ants to collect grain in their holes, as is evident from Mishley (Proverbs) 6.8 (Rash).]

“Provideth her bread in the summer, and gatherest her food in the harvest.”

Really Rash should have quoted from Mishley (Proverbs) 6.6 through 6.11

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise; 7 Which having no chief, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her bread in the summer, and gatherest her food in the harvest. 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 ‘Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep’– 11 So shall thy poverty come as a runner, and thy want as an armed man.

A Little Gematria

In Gematria we find 60=Samech. The word samech means “to support,” as it states in the Shemoneh Esreh: 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 Mishnah [1.2] Says:

One may not [leave] for peah less than [one out of] sixty, even though they said Peah has no measure. Mishnay’ot Seder Zeraim Vol. II(a) – Pe’ah – Yad Avraham Artscroll Mishneh Series, page 19.

The Samech is the only letter of the Aleph-Bet that is missing from [the passuk] V’Yiqrah 23.22

Samech =60. Samech means to “Support!” “He supports all the fallen, and uplifts all those bowed down.” Tehillim 145.14

60 divided by a Mishnaic Group of 3 = 20 & 20 in Gematria = Chaf and Chaf is the first letter of Keter which is [the] crown [of the Torah].

Since 60 divided by 2 = 30 & in Gematria 30 = Lamed. Lamed is an impractical number of Gematria because it is not easily divided into a fair dispensational [Mishnaic] number; and 30 divided by 2 = 15 and 15 in Gematria = Yah. One can not divide the Holy One!

15 cannot be evenly divided by a Mishnaic group1 of two, (Baith Hillel as in, “the poor and the stranger”) and is an impractical number [which must be reduced to a fairly distributable number] as (Baith Shammai says, “One for the Widow, One for the Orphan and One for the Stranger”):

The problem is 15 divided by 2 = 7.5 and 7.5 divided by 2 = 3.75 another impractical number. One does not divide a fifth of a person (out of 7.5 people) as that is impossible!

However, 60 divided by a Mishnaic group [Baith Shammai] of three (widow, orphan and stranger) is easily divided: 60 divided by 3 = 20 and 20 = Keter which is [the] crown [of the Torah]; 20 divided by 2 =10. 10 divided by 2=5. Furthermore, 20 divided by 5 equals four and there are four amoth (of personal space) that belong to each person.

As we said, 60 divided by 2 =30 and 30 divided by 2 =15. And 15 is easily divided by three which is five [and five equals the wisdom of Yoseph: 60 divided by 5 = 12. B’rashith (Genesis) 41.34 – “Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint overseers over the land, and take up the fifth2 part of the land of Egypt in the seven years of plenty.”]

One fifth part of 60 = 12 and twelve = the twelve tribes. Hence, 1/60th of Land of Eretz Yisrael (that is, Pe’ah ) which is harvested by the Twelve Tribes is fairly divided by 1/5 as 60 divided by 12 equals five! In a fair distribution, One Fifth out of a Sixtieth [of Pe’ah, Leket and Shich’chah] belong’s to each and every poor person, (the widow, orphan,) [and to] the stranger3 who resides amongst you.

“And a stranger shalt thou not oppress; for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Shmoth 23.9

1Baith Hillel says a group two (the poor and stranger) is significant whereas Baith Shammai says a group of three (the widow, orphan and stranger) are significant, Hillel citing V’Yiqrah 19.9, 10; while Shammai cites Devarim 24.19. If one divides 30 (Lamed) by 5, one gets 6 and six in Gematria is VAV (the conjunctive “and“). If one divides 30 by 6, one gets 5 and five in Gematria is Hey (the definitive article, “the”) and it says, “for you know the heart (literally, eeth nefesh ha‘geyrאֶתנֶפֶשׁ הַגֵּר “) of the stranger” Shmoth 23.9. There are no superfluous letters in the Torah! Divrey HaYamim (1 Chronicles ) 29.15 “For we are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as all our fathers were: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is no abiding. “

2 “or the thing which he hath gotten by oppression […] he shall even restore it in full, and shall add the fifth part more thereto ….” VeYiqrah 5.20-26. See also: V’Yiqrah 22.14 “And if a man eat of the holy thing through error, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give unto the priest the holy thing. “

3“And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the land is Mine; for ye are strangers and settlers with Me.” Shmoth 25.23 “He doth execute justice for the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. ” ” Devarim 10.18 “Love ye therefore the stranger; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Devarim 10.19

Here, the Torah singles out the GER, the stranger for love, a singular action because he is in a better social position to plead the cause of the widow and orphan where a question of doubful leket, shichchah and peah are concerned.

On a side note, 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.


The root letter or character Samech is related to the word mispeak – (Or, if you will, S’lichah – forgiveness, as in Tehillim 130.4 “For with Thee there is forgiveness, that Thou mayest be feared.”)

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 when we must curb our desire for wealth, when we must say “ENOUGH” – I have enough;

Our harvest should at some point cease, and due to our generosity our field should support someone in need, rather than just than ourselves or feed our desire for wealth. For one sixtieth of our harvest or wealth represents the minimal amount of support we are obligated to leave or abandon for the poor and the stranger.

So, what is the difference between the word poor (ani) – ayin nun yud 70+50+10=130, and stranger (ger) gimmel resh 3+200= 203130=73 “wisdom” חָכְמָה as it says, Tehillim 111.10 The fear of the L-RD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do thereafter; {N}
His praise endureth for ever. {P}

The wisdom to know when to say mispeak – ENOUGH!8 The performance of a mitzvah brings one advocate as it is said, Pirke Avot 4.11.Rabbi Eliezer the son of Ya’acov would say: He who fulfills one mitzvah, acquires for himself one angel-advocate; he who commits one transgression, acquires against himself one angel-accuser. Repentance and good deeds are as a shield against retribution.” Which brings us to the next subject, the reward for fulfilling the Mitzvah of Peah

In Parsha Emor we read, “[…] I am the L-RD, Your G-D.” VeYikrah 23.22 What does this come to teach?

In Parsha Shmoth 6.2 we find the following RASHI commentary:

and He said to him, I am the L-RD: [Meaning: I am] faithful to recompense all those who walk before Me. I did not send you [to Pharaoh] except to fulfill My words, which I spoke to the early fathers. In this sense, we find that it אִנִי ה is interpreted in many places [in Scripture] as “I am the L-RD,” [meaning that I am] faithful to exact retribution. [It has this meaning] when it is stated in conjunction with [an act warranting] punishment, e.g., “or you will profane the name of your G-D; I am the L-RD” (Lev. 19:12). When it is stated in conjunction with the fulfillment of commandments, e.g., “And you shall keep My commandments and perform them; I am the L-RD” (Lev. 22:31), [it means: I am] faithful to give reward.

And what is the reward for fullfilling the Mitzvah of leaving Peah, Leket and Shich’chah?

The Mishnah says, Somech Lo “he can attach [to] it” (viz, to the reward): “wisdom” חָכְמָה and a good name as long as he knows when to say Enough.

Obviously, there is a reward9 for the one who gives, that is, leaves generously for the poor; as it is written, Mishley (Proverbs 22.1) “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children; and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the righteous.” Mishley 13.22 AND, the Mishnah Says, oolphi rov ha’anavah (“… and according to the abundance of generosity [lit. humility]). (Mishley 22.4 “The reward of humility is the fear of the L-RD, even riches, and honour, and life.”) It [the BLESSING of HASHEM] “all depends on [His – the owner’s10, lit. HASHEM’S] generosity.” Mishnayoth 1.2, Yad Avraham, pages 21, 22.

1 “and blessed shalt thou be in the field.” Devarim 28.3, 8 “The L-RD will command the blessing with thee in thy barns, and in all that thou puttest thy hand unto; and He will bless thee in the land which the L-RD thy G-D giveth thee.”

2Why does the Torah command the mitzvah of Shatai HaLechem from “fine wheat”? I suggest that the reason Peah is juxtaposed between the commandment of the Omer Count and to observe Shavuot is because of refinement of character; as is related in Kitzur Sefer HaChinuch: “[…] when a man does not harvest a corner of his field and allows the poor to take freely of what grows there, the act positively influences his soul and helps to make him kindhearted.”

3 “To the poor and stranger leave them’ is put next to ‘You shall not steal’ to warn the owner not to steal from what belongs to the poor. Mishley 22.10 “Cast out the scorner, and contention will go out; yea, strife and shame will cease.” And who is the scorner? He who is unhappy with his lot; as it says, “[…] he sits not in the seat of scorners; but his delight is in the Law of the L-RD and in His Law doth he meditate day and night.” (Tehillim 1.1-2) And how is the accused ganef a scorner? Perhaps, (conceptually as in our Mishnayoth,) one sixtieth is not enough of peah for the owner to be concerned with and he scorns the “words of the Sages” sitting at home with his ill gotten harvest! Mishley 21.4 And see also: Shmoth 22.5 If a fire goes forth and finds thorns, and a stack of grain or standing grain or the field be consumed, the one who ignited the fire shall surely pay.” Here, a fire is an euphemism for a passionate quarrel [between the poor and the landowner], which could “break out” during the harvest; and thorns are an euphemism for the sin of stinginess [theft] of the landowner rather than the example set by Boaz in Ruth 2.7-9 (Hachnaset Orchim – hospitality to ‘guests’ “‘[…] save that she tarried a little in the house.’ ” and, “‘[…] when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.’ “) , and his generosity – see Note 6 “Chessed Lev” below.

4Shmoth 20.13 “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house; {S} thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” Covetousness spring’s forth from the evil eye, as it is said, “what is yours is mine . This [person] is a rasha wicked one! Pirke Avot 5.10 And, as it says, “but the way of the wicked He maketh crooked.” AND, Moreover, it says as a warning: “And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not oppress any widow or orphan. If you oppress him, [beware,] for if he cries out to Me, I will surely hear his cry. My wrath will be kindled, and I will slay you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children orphans.” Shmoth 22.20-23 (Here, the Torah uses the expression, “My wrath will be kindled” as an euphemism for the Judgement, or Anger, lit. fire of HaShem based on the Orphan’s cry! Note: A fire broke out in several places in our Torah to teach the Judgement, or Anger of HaShem based upon, the proud of heart: Nadav and Abihu; and 2 Samuel 6.7 “And the anger of the L-RD was kindled against Uzzah; and G-D smote him there for his error; and there he died by the Ark of G-D.” ) Rather, one should be like those who came up; of a humble heart, where it is written, “And the people bowed their heads and worshipped.” Id. 12.27

52.10. [Rabbi Yochanan] said to them: Go and see which is the best trait for a person to acquire. Said Rabbi Eliezer: A good eye. […] Said He to them: I prefer the words of Elazar the son of Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours.

6Boaz gives the perfect example of Chessed Lev, the kindhearted – Ruth 2.16 “And also pull out some for her of purpose from the bundles, and leave it, and let her glean, and rebuke her not.’” Here, Boaz directs the harvest so that it is done in a spirit of joy…. Tehillim 126.6, Isaiah 27.12, (in our present state, HaShem is, and we are “gleaning” souls; “And I will be found by you, says the L-RD, and I will return your captivity and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the L-RD, and I will return you to the place whence I exiled you.” Jeremiah 29.14 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gathering_of_Israel> ) Isaiah 52.12, Ruth 2.7 (Hurrying is mentioned in the Mishnayoth 5.6 page 164 as a form of theft (oppression) of the poor.) As a result of his (Boaz’s) kindheartedness he was blessed by HaShem with royal descendents!

7 Take Note of the difference between rejoicing and not rejoicing – “… and there ye shall eat before the L-RD your G-D, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the L-RD thy G-D hath blessed thee.” Devarim 12.7 “Seven days shalt thou keep a feast unto the L-RD thy G-D in the place which the L-RD shall choose; because the L-RD thy G-D shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the work of thy hands, and thou shalt be altogether joyful.” Devarim 16.15 AND, On the other hand, “because thou didst not serve the L-RD thy G-D with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things;” Devarim 28.47])

8It is enough; now stay thy hand.‘ 1 Chronicles 21.1, 15-30 Here, due to fear of the sword of the Angel of HaShem, King David is restrained from inquiring of HaShem at the Mishkan on the “high place” in Gibeon. This is as if to say, ‘stay back, restrain yourself – be humble!’ 21.30 “But David could not go before it [ the Mishkan ] to לִדְרֹשׁ inquire of G-D; for he was terrified because of the sword of the angel of the L-RD.” “And she went to inquire of the L-RD.” B’rashith 25.22. As it was said, “… Because the people come unto me to inquire of G-D;” Parshah Yithro – Shmoth 18.15 <http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Gibeon.html#.XEe7M2l7lLM> (NOTE: David and the Elders were in sack-cloth. 21.16) Gibeon is off limits. (The Gibeonites were said to be their [Amorite] descendants, being an offshoot of the Amorites who made a covenant with the Hebrews. When Saul later broke that vow and killed some of the Gibeonites, G-D sent a famine to Israel. ) “Satan was accusing” it may be inferred because they brought Bikkurim (firstfruits) to HaShem at the Mishkan in Gibeon, on a high place while the Ark of the Covenant was in Y’rushalayim! (1 Chronicles 16:39, 21:29, 2 Chronicles 1:3, 1:13). Something prohibited by Torah as it says, “you shall destroy their high places.” E.g. Devarim 12.3 (Their haughtiness or arrogance. Mishley 16.18, Iyov 40.10) Firstfruits Bikkurim are to be brought “to the place” (dust, or place of humility, literally aphar; B’rashith 3.19 ) HaShem chose (Devarim 26.2) through King David! 1 Chronicles 22.1 Then David said: ‘This is the House of the L-RD G-D, and this is the altar of burnt-offering for Israel.’ {P} Shmoth 20.20 An altar of Adamah thou shalt make unto Me. מִזְבַּח אֲדָמָה, תַּעֲשֶׂהלִּי

9The law of the L-RD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the L-RD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the L-RD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the L-RD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the L-RD is clean, enduring for ever; the ordinances of the L-RD are true, they are righteous altogether; More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is Thy servant warned; in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Clear Thou me from hidden faults. Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins, that they may not have dominion over me; {N} then shall I be faultless, and I shall be clear from great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before Thee, {N} O L-RD, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” Tehillim 19.8-15, See also Daniel 12.2 “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence.”

10 “And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the land is Mine; for ye are strangers and settlers with Me.” Shmoth 25.23

5 thoughts on ““The Mishnah Says” (REVISION)

  1. “Chazal felt that having implemented the laws of nature, Hashem was reluctant to alter them. When He resorts to supernatural events, it is to be viewed as a deficiency in the beneficiaries, in sinking to such a depth that he no longer can be saved by natural means. Chazal explain the verse Va’Ayraid Lhatzilo as a yeridah, degradation, kavayachol, for Hashem because He had to break the laws of nature in order to rescue them. The Midrash compares Hashem’s descending to Egypt and rescuing the Jews through miracles to a kohen whose terumah was placed in a cemetery and he can retrieve it only by defiling himself and entering the cemetery. There is a pechisas hakavod, a degradation of honor, in doing so.”

    Wherever you find the greatness of the L-RD there you will find His humility:

    “The Being at the heart of being listens to those at the margins: the orphan, the widow, the stranger, the poor, the outcast, the neglected. On this idea, the third century teacher Rabbi Yochanan built the following homily (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 31a):
    Rabbi Yochanan said, Wherever you find the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, there you find His humility. This is written in the Torah, repeated in the Prophets, and stated a third time in the Writings. It is written in the Torah: “For the L-RD your G-D is G-D of gods and L-RD of lords, the great, mighty and awe-inspiring G-D, who shows no favouritism and accepts no bribe.” Immediately afterwards it is written, “He upholds the cause of the orphan and widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.” It is repeated in the Prophets, as it says: “So says the High and Exalted One, who lives for ever and whose name is Holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with the contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” It is stated a third time in the Writings: “Sing to G-D, make music for His name, extol Him who rides the clouds – Yah is His name – and exult before Him.” Immediately afterwards it is written: “Father of the fatherless and judge of widows, is G-D in His holy habitation.” Tehillim 68.5
    “He upholds the cause of the orphan and widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.” ” Devarim 10.18
    Here, the stranger is in the better social position to help and plead the cause of the orphan and widow, whose testimony (the slave, a minor and a woman’s testimony) is disqualified.
    Yet the Torah chooses to group these three together with the [conjunctive] phrase, “and loves the stranger;” for you are all strangers “with Me [says HaShem]!” Shmoth 25.23

    Devarim 10.19 Love ye therefore the stranger; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

    Here, the Torah singles out the GER, the stranger for love, a singular action because he is in a better social position to plead the cause of the widow and orphan.


  2. Also, “you shall leave” – azav is an interesting word –

    Azav abandon (Ayin Zayin Vet) has the numerical value of 79 as does Bo’az, (Bet, Ayin, Zayin [strength, or firmness] )- if one merely switches the Vet at the end of Azav placing a dagesh in it and putting it at the beginning of the word Azav, one gets the name Bo’az!

    Cognate with Arabic عَزَبَ‎ (ʿazaba, “to be remote or absent”)

    Bo’az, [strength, or firmness], as noted has the numerical value of 79 as does Azav abandon – we must be firm in abandoning our will – selfishness – for the sake of the will (expressed) by the Holy One: meeting the needs of the poor and stranger through the mitzvah of Leket, Shich’chah and Peah, for it [Pirke Avoth 1.14] says, “if I am only for myself, what am I ?!”

    When we leave (abandon) peah we strengthen (or support, support in Hebrew is somech [which] =60) the poor and the stranger.


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