Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home


PE'AH (Heb. פֵּאָה; "corner"), name of the second treatise of the Mishnah, in the order of Zera'im. Despite its name, this tractate deals with the laws of all the different dues to the poor, namely: pe'ah, leket ("gleaning of grapes"), peret ("fallen grapes"), ma'aser ani ("poor man's tithe") which are enjoined in Leviticus 19:9, 10, and Deuteronomy 24:19; 14:28, 29.

The tractate is divided into eight chapters whose contents are: required amount and size of field to which the law of pe'ah applies (1:1, 2; 3:6); the type of field and agricultural produce from which pe'ah may be given (1:4, 5; 3:4); modes of division in a field (2:1–4; 3:1, 2); procedure in giving pe'ah (4:1–5); type of gleanings which constitute leket (4:10, 11; 5:1, 2); type of harvest, position of leftover sheaves and amount of sheaves that require the giving of shikhḥah (5:7, 8; 6:2–11; 7:1, 2); laws of peret and olelot (7:3–7); laws of ma'aser ani (8:2, 5–7); obligation of consecrated land to the Temple in connection with dues to the poor (1:6; 4:6–9; 7:8). Thus 1–4:9 deals with the laws of pe'ah; 4:10–5:6 with leket; 5:7–7:2 with shikhhah; 7:3 with peret; 7:4–7, 8 with olelot; 8, especially from Mishnah 5 onward, with ma'aser ani and charity. A number of topics unrelated to the immediate subject of the tractate are included: enumeration of mitzvot having no fixed measure (1:1); legal transactions involving small amounts of land (3:6, 7); laws of renunciation of ownership (1:6; 6:1). The first of these has been included (with variant readings) in the prayer book as part of the morning introductory prayers.

The Tosefta has four chapters, which, besides complementing and interpreting the Mishnah, include several interpretations and emendations based on the Talmud (Tosef., 1:6; 2:2; see Epstein, Tanna'im, 252). The Tosefta also contains some aggadic passages, such as "The Almighty combines a good intention with an action, but an evil intention the Almighty does not combine with an action" (1:4). In the last chapter, in which charity is highly praised, it is stated that charity and deeds of lovingkindness equal all the mitzvot in the Torah (4:19), that he who shuts his eyes to charity is like one who practices idolatry (4:20). There is no Gemara on the tractate in the Babylonian Talmud but there is in the Jerusalem Talmud, which includes much aggadic literature.


H.L. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (1931), 29–30; P. Blackman (ed. and tr.), Mishnayot, 1 (1951); J.D. Herzog (ed. and tr.), Mishnayot, 2 (1947).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.