Combinations that Qualify as Shichecha

Peah (6:6) | Yisrael Bankier | 11 years ago

Sheaves that are forgotten in the field are deemed shichecha and belong to the poor. The Mishnah (6:6) taught that if these sheaves are particularly large then they are no longer shichecha. The measure provided by the Mishnah is two seah (satayim)1 and there are two reasons provided in the Yerushalmi for this quantity. The pasuk state: “...and you forget a bundle in your field, you shall not turn back and take it.” One explanation is that when it is too large it is no longer a “bundle” but a haystack, while the other is that it would be too large for a person to simply “turn back and take it” and does therefore not fall under definition of shichecha. Importantly, this same measure also applies to forgotten uncut or standing produce to which the law of shichecha also applies.

The same Mishnah records a debate where two sheaves are forgotten together, whose total volume is satayim. The Chachamim maintain that they are shichecha - each sheaf is less than satayim - while Rabban Gamliel maintains that they can combine to make this minimum measure.2

A later Mishnah (6:9) records a similar debate. The case there is whether a seah of felled produce can combine with a seah of standing produce to save them both from being defined as shichecha. The first opinion is that they cannot combine, while R’ Yosi maintains that they can as long as there is no “reshut he’ani” (e.g. leket) separating the two.

The Yerushalmi notes that the by Mishnah teaching that standing and cut wheat cannot combine, it implies that two large sheaves could combine to make satayim. The conclusion would then be that the first opinion in this Mishnah agrees with R’ Gamliel from the previous one who champions this very point.

Based on this Yerushalmi the Mishnah Rishona raises a question on the Rambam. With respect to the first Mishnah he rules like the Chachamim that two large sheaves cannot combine to make satayim and if forgotten, would be considered shichecha(Matanot Aniyim 5:18). The Rambam however also rules explicitly regarding the second Mishnah like the first opinion, that standing and cut produce cannot combine (5:20). Surely including this ruling is unnecessary. If two cut sheaves cannot combine then certainly cut and standing produce cannot combine. Recall that according to the Yerushalmi, this Mishnah was need only according for the opinion of Rabban Gamliel.

The Mishnah Rishona explains that the two Mishnayot are different in another respect and that both Mishnayot are required to teach us about the opinion of the Chachamim. The first Mishnah refers to two sheaves – two bundles tied up separately. In that case, since the sheaves are clearly distinct the Chachamim maintain that they cannot combine. The second case however does not refer to a bundle of wheat and standing wheat. It refers to “akurim” – stalks that are scattered and unbound. Consequently, in that case it is still possible to bind them with the produce that is soon to be cut. In that case one might think that they can combine. Indeed that is the opinion of R’ Yosi (provided reshut he’ani does not separate them). Therefore the Rambam had to teach that according to the Chachamim, in the second case as well, the standing and scattered wheat do not combine. The Mishnah Rishona explains that the Rambam preferred this understanding because the result is that first opinion in both Mishnayot, which are stam (author unstated), are the same opinion.


1 Satayim is 288 times the volume of a beitzah. How this translates to the metric system, whether the measure referred to in this Mishnah is a volume or weight and how it should be calculated is the subject of a number of debates. Kehati explains that this measure is approximately a 26 litre volume.

2 The Mishnah Rishona explains that Rabban Gamliel must have a different rational for the volume of satayim as neither of the above understandings seem to apply in this case – see inside for his suggestion. Also note that the debate is regarding only two sheaves, for if there were three then everyone would agree that it would not be shichecha (6:5).

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