Torah Sparks

United Synagogue (USCJ) is proud and delighted to bring you Torah Sparks, with insights and learning materials on the Parasha (Torah portion) of the week. Torah Sparks is produced by the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Each week there will be a Dvar Torah - a discussion on some aspect of the reading, by CY faculty, alumni and friends; a Vort - a short thought from Chasidic rebbes or other thinkers about some point in the text; and Table Talk - questions to stimulate discussion on the Parsha around the Shabbat table. Torah Sparks is available here on the Conservative Yeshiva's Shiurim Online Beit Midrash website, as well as by subscription to weekly graphical emails. Please select the Parasha you would like to see - it will display articles from each year. A printable PDF is linked at the end of each week's presentation.

Peah

Introduction to Peah

Introduction to Peah   Tractate Peah deals with agricultural gifts the Torah mandates be given to the poor.  There are three main passages in the Torah that deal with these gifts. Since they will be relevant throughout the tractate it is worth quoting them fully now.   Leviticus 19:9-10 9 And when you reap the […]

Peah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Peah, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction This is a famous mishnah because it is recited in the early part of the prayer service, after the blessing for learning Torah.  The reason it is here in the beginning of tractate Peah is that it teaches that there is no maximum measure to the amount of […]

Peah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Peah, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah teaches that although there is no measure for peah, as we learned in yesterday’s mishnah, there is a minimum measure.  The mishnah also provides a general means for determining how generous a person should be.   Mishnah Two 1)      They should not leave peah of less […]

Peah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Peah, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction Usually one leaves the corners of one’s field for peah at the corners of the fields.  However, one can leave parts in the middle or even at the beginning of the field. This is the topic of our mishnah.   Mishnah Three 1)      They may give peah at […]

Peah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Peah, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah teaches a general principle used to determine when the laws of peah are applicable.    Mishnah Four 1)      They said a general principle concerning peah: whatever is food, and is looked after, and grows from the land, and is harvested all at the same time, and […]

Peah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Peah, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah teaches which trees are subject to the laws of peah.  The fruit of all of these trees is harvested in one harvest and is not harvested more gradually over a longer period of time.  Other trees such as figs are exempt from peah.    Mishnah Five […]

Peah, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Peah, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Introduction One is obligated to separate tithes from one’s produce.  However, one is not obligated to separate tithes from peah, ownerless produce, animal food or seed.  Our mishnah deals with the question of when the obligation to separate tithes goes into effect.   Mishnah Six 1)      He may always […]

Peah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Peah, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with how one determines if a plot of land is considered one plot or two in terms of peah. If the plot is considered to be two then he must leave peah from both fields for he cannot give peah from one field in order […]

Peah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Peah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah continues to discuss what divides a field.   Mishnah Two 1)      A water channel that makes harvesting [on one side] impossible [while standing on the other side], Rabbi Judah says: it divides.   2)      But all of the hills that can be tilled with a hoe, even […]

Peah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Peah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah teaches that there is a difference in what divides a field between a field planted with seeds from which crops grow (mostly grain and beans) and a field of trees.   Mishnah Three 1)      All of these divide in the case of a field [planted] with […]

Peah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Peah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with peah for carob and olive trees.   Mishnah Four 1)      As for carob trees, [they are not divided] as long as they see one another.   2)      Rabban Gamaliel said: we had this custom in the house of my father.  We would give separate peah […]

Peah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Peah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with the question of when one gives one peah and when one gives two peahs.  As we shall see what determines how many peahs he gives is usually not how many times he brings his grain to the threshing floor to separate the […]

Peah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Peah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah is a direct continuation of yesterday’s mishnah.  Its halakhic content is exactly the same as that halakhah in clause three of yesterday’s mishnah.  It does not add any new halakhic information.  What it does add is something about the authority and antiquity of that tradition.   […]

Peah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Peah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction A person is obligated to give peah from his field only if he harvested it. Our mishnah brings examples where the owner didn’t harvest the field and hence is exempt from giving peah.   Mishnah Seven 1)      A field harvested by gentiles, or harvested by robbers, or which […]

Peah, Chapter 2, Mishnah 8

Peah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah is a direct continuation of yesterday’s mishnah, concerning a field that was harvested half by its owners and half by others.   Mishnah Eight 1)      If robbers harvested half and the owner the other half, he gives peah from what he has harvested. 2)      If he […]

Peah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Peah, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with small plots of grain that are planted in between olive trees and with the question of whether he has to give peah from each plot as if it were a separate field or whether he can give one peah from all the plots together. […]

Peah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Peah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah is similar to yesterday’s mishnah in that it deals with a field that is not planted evenly. However, whereas in yesterday’s mishnah the field was a mix of olive trees and grain, the first half of today’s mishnah deals with a field planted solely with grain. […]

Peah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Peah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with a person who harvests part of his field and with the question of whether he can give one peah for the entire field or peah separately for each part that he has harvested.   Mishnah Three 1)      One who clears [his field] […]

Peah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Peah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with some more questions that arise concerning giving peah from onions.   Mishnah Four 1)      Onions grown for their seed are liable for peah. a)      But Rabbi Yose exempts them.   2)      Plots of onions [growing] between vegetables: a)      Rabbi Yose says: peah must be given […]

Peah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 5

Peah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with giving peah in fields or parts thereof that are owned by two owners.   Mishnah Five 1)      [Two] brothers who divided [an inheritance] must give [two] peahs. 2)      If they afterwards again become partners they give one peah. 3)      Two who purchase a tree, […]

Peah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 6

Peah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah deals with the minimum size that land needs to be for one to be liable to give peah from it.   Mishnah Six 1)      Rabbi Eliezer says: a piece of ground [large enough to plant] one fourth of a kav is liable for peah. 2)      Rabbi […]

Peah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 7

Peah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah has nothing to do with the laws of peah, but rather continues to discuss cases in which a certain halakhah is effective with even the smallest piece of land.    Mishnah Seven 1)      One who is about to die who assigns his property in writing [to […]

Peah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 8

Peah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Eight   Introduction The final mishnah of chapter three continues to discuss a person who assigns his property in writing (using a document) to someone else, in this case a slave.   Mishnah Eight 1)      One who assigns in writing his possessions to his slave, [the slave] thereby goes free.   a)      […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with the question of whether it is preferable for the owner to simply leave the peah in the field or for him to harvest it and distribute it to the poor.   Mishnah One 1)      Peah is given from [the crop] while it is still […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 10

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Ten   Introduction Having finished discussing peah, the mishnah proceeds to discuss “gleanings” or “leket,” one of the other agricultural gifts given to the poor. Gleanings are mentioned in Leviticus 19:9-10, and 23:22.   Mishnah Ten 1)      What are gleanings?  That which falls down at the time of harvesting. 2)      If […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 11

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Eleven   Introduction This mishnah deals with grain that is found in ant holes in a field. The question is whether they count as gleanings, which as we saw in yesterday’s mishnah, is grain that falls during the time of the harvest.    Mishnah Eleven 1)      [Grain found in] ant holes […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah is a direct continuation of yesterday’s mishnah, which dealt with a case where most of the poor ask him to harvest the field and distribute the peah and one says to leave the peah in the field.   Mishnah Two With hanging vine-branches and date-palm trees […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah deals with how the poor actually collect the peah, meaning what constitutes taking possession of the peah such that it belongs to the specific poor person who took possession of it.   Mishnah Three 1)      If [a poor man] took some of the peah [already collected] […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah again reflects the fierce competition among the poor which the rabbis anticipated from them when they came to collect peah.   Mishnah Four [The poor] may not harvest peah with scythes or tear it out [of the ground] with spades, so that they might not strike […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 5

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with how many times a day the field owner must or should let the poor into his field to harvest the peah.   Mishnah Five 1)      There are three times a day [the poor] make a search [in the field for peah]: morning, noon, and […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 6

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Six   Introduction This mishnah deals with a non-Jew who harvests his field and then converts. Non-Jews are not liable for the laws of peah, but Jews are, so the question is—does he have to give the peah after he has already harvested the whole field.   Mishnah Six 1)      A […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 7

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah deals with a person who dedicates his grain to the Temple and then redeems it.  One does not have to give peah or the other agricultural gifts from fields that have been dedicated to the Temple, so the question is, does he have to give them […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 8

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Eight   Introduction This mishnah teaches a very similar ruling to the mishnah that we learned yesterday, regarding one who dedicates his agricultural produce and then redeems it. Today’s topic is tithes, whereas yesterday we learned about the gifts that go to the poor.   Mishnah Eight 1)      Similarly one who […]

Peah, Chapter 4, Mishnah 9

Peah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Nine   Introduction The first section of our mishnah deals with the owner of a field who transfers title over the peah to a poor person without the poor person being present.  The second half of the mishnah deals with the fields of non-Jews.   Mishnah Nine 1)      One who collected […]

Peah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Peah, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with gleanings that are, for various reasons, hard or impossible for the poor person to find.   Mishnah One 1)      If a pile of grain was stacked [on part of a field] from which gleanings had not yet been collected, whatever touches the ground belongs […]

Peah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Peah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah continues to deal with cases where we have a doubt as to whether the gleanings belong to the owner of the field or to the poor.  However, the first half of the mishnah seems to deal with the laws of forgotten sheaves and not with the […]

Peah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Peah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the potential problem of watering a field with a water wheel.   Mishnah Three 1)      They should not [irrigate a field] with a water wheel, the words of Rabbi Meir. 2)      The sages permit it, because it is still possible [for the poor to […]

Peah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Peah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah deals with a person who is not truly poor, but while traveling has no money to buy food and takes one of the agricultural gifts that goes to the poor.  The question is must he make restitution.  One of the interesting things about this mishnah is […]

Peah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Peah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      One who exchanges with the poor, [what they give in exchange] for his is exempt [from tithes] but what [he gives in exchange] for that of the poor is subject [to tithes].   2)      Two who received a field as sharecroppers, this one may give to the […]

Peah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 6

Peah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Six   Introduction This is the final mishnah which deals with the topic of gleanings.   Mishnah Six 1)      One who sells, the seller is permitted [to take the agricultural gifts] and the purchaser is forbidden. 2)      One may not hire a worker on the condition that the son [of the […]

Peah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 7

Peah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Our mishnah begins to deal with the topic of forgotten sheaves. Deuteronomy 24:19 states,  “When you reap the harvest in your field and overlook a sheaf in the field, do not turn back to get it; it shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow—in order […]

Peah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 8

Peah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Eight   Introduction The status of a sheaf as “forgotten” is determined at the time when the processing of the sheaf is completed and it is ready to be threshed.  Our mishnah comes to teach that the laws of the forgotten sheaf do not apply when he makes small piles of […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 1

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah One   Introduction In this mishnah there are two debates between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel. Only the second one has to do with the laws of the forgotten sheaf.   Mishnah One 1)      Bet Shammai says: [That which is] made ownerless only in regard to the poor is indeed ownerless. […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 10

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Ten   Introduction This mishnah continues to define what things the “laws of forgotten” apply to.   Mishnah Ten 1)      Grain used for fodder or [stalks] used for binding sheaves, and also garlic-stalks used for tying other bunches, or tied bunches of garlic and onions—they [all are not subject to the […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 11

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Eleven   Mishnah Eleven 1)      One who harvests by night and binds sheaves [by night] or one who is blind [that which he leaves] is subject to the law of the “forgotten.” 2)      If he intends to remove large leaves first, then the law of “forgotten” does not apply.    3)      […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 2

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah deals with a sheaf that was left lying near something specific. The question is, might the field owner have left it there intentionally so that he would know where to find it later?  If he did, then the rules of the forgotten sheaf do not apply […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 3

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah continues to define when something is considered to be a forgotten sheaf.   Mishnah Three 1)      [With regard to sheaves forgotten] at the end of the row, the sheaf lying across from it proves [that the first sheaf has not been forgotten.]   2)      [As for] a […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 4

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah, which said that something that was left at the end of a row was not considered “forgotten.”   Mishnah Four These are to be considered ends of the rows:   1)      If two men begin [to gather] from the middle of […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 5

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Five   Introduction The general rule of this mishnah is if that two things left lying together are considered to have been forgotten but three things left lying together are assumed to have been left there intentionally so that the owner could come back and collect them later.  Hence they are […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 6

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Six   Introduction Our mishnah talks about the how big a sheaf can be and still be considered “forgotten.”   Mishnah Six 1)      A sheaf that has two seahs and he forgot it— it is not considered “forgotten.”   2)      Two sheaves that together comprise two seahs: a)      Rabban Gamaliel says: they […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 7

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Seven   Introduction In today’s mishnah we see that the rabbis extended the laws of forgotten sheaves to standing stalks of grain as well. The question then is, when is a stalk considered to have been forgotten?   Mishnah Seven 1)      A standing stalk of grain that contains two seahs and […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 8

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)      A standing stalk of grain can save a sheaf and another standing stalk [from being regarded as “forgotten”].   2)      A sheaf cannot save either another sheaf or a standing stalk.   3)      What is the standing stalk of grain that can save at sheaf?   Anything which has […]

Peah, Chapter 6, Mishnah 9

Peah, Chapter Six, Mishnah Nine   Introduction Above in mishnah seven we learned that if a stalk of grain has two seahs it is not considered forgotten.  Our mishnah asks what happens if he forgets a stalk that has one seah and doesn’t forget some already harvested grain that is also one seah?  Do the […]

Peah, Chapter 7, Mishnah 1

Peah, Chapter Seven, Mishnah One   Introduction This mishnah deals with the laws of forgotten as they apply to olive trees.    Mishnah One 1)      An olive tree that has a name in the field, such as the olive tree of Netofah in its time, and he forgot it, it is not deemed “forgotten.”  2)      […]

Peah, Chapter 7, Mishnah 2

Peah, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      An olive tree found standing between three rows [of olive trees] which have two plots separating them, and he forgot it, it is deemed, “forgotten.”   2)      An olive tree containing two seahs and he forgot it, it is not deemed forgotten. 3)      To what does this […]

Peah, Chapter 7, Mishnah 3

Peah, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Three   Introduction Our mishnah defines peret, a word found in Leviticus 19:10, “The peret of your vineyard you shall not gather, for the poor and the stranger you shall leave them.”    Mishnah Three 1)      What is peret? [Grapes] which fall down during the harvesting. 2)      If while he was […]

Peah, Chapter 7, Mishnah 4

Peah, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah introduces the rules of the “defective cluster,” called in Hebrew the “olelet.”  Leviticus 19:10 states, “You shall not pick your vineyard bare,” the word for bare is “teolel” from which the rabbis derive the word olelet.  They interpret the halakhah to mean—don’t pick defective clusters of […]

Peah, Chapter 7, Mishnah 5

Peah, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Five   Introduction This mishnah deals with whether when one thins out the grapes from a grapevine so that the other grapes will have more room to grow one can also thin away the defective clusters that are supposed to go to the poor.    Mishnah Five One who is thinning […]

Peah, Chapter 7, Mishnah 6

Peah, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Six   Introduction For the first three years’ of a vine’s growth, its grapes are “orlah” and cannot be eaten.  In the fourth year of its growth, they are like second tithe and must either be eaten in Jerusalem or redeemed and brought to Jerusalem where the proceeds are to be […]

Peah, Chapter 7, Mishnah 7

Peah, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Seven   Introduction In today’s mishnah Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akiva argue over a vineyard where all of the clusters of grapes are defective (olelot).   Mishnah Seven 1)      A vineyard which consists entirely of defective clusters:   a)      Rabbi Eliezer says: it belongs to the owner. b)      Rabbi Akiva says: to […]

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