Large Shichecha

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

Shechicha is the third gift of the poor. It refers to the individual bundles, forgotten on the field, that must be left for the poor. The Mishnah (6:6) taught that if a forgotten bundle was the size of two se’ah – a particularly large size – then it is not considered shichecha.

The Bartenura explains that when teaching the laws of shechicha, the Torah warns “do not go back to take it”. The Bartenura therefore understands that the law of shichecha only applies to a bundle that could be retrieved at once and carried on one’s shoulder. A bundle that is the size of two seah is too large, consequently shichecha does not apply.

The Melechet Shlomo explains that there is an alternative explanation presented in the Yersushalmi. The pasuk states, “when you forget a bundle in the field”, when teaching the law of shichecha. The Torah is specifically referring to a bundle. Once we reach the volume of two seah it is no longer a bundle but rather a stack.

The Melechet Shlomo raises two practical differences between these two explanations. The first is that we learnt in the previous Mishnah that while two forgotten bundles are considered shechicha a cluster of three is not. A cases where there are two ordinary bundles next to this large one would depend on how it is defined. If it is no longer considered a bundle but rather a stack, then the two ordinary bundles would be considered shechicha. Note, that this would be according to the opinion of Beit Hillel that rules that a forgotten bundle next to a stack would still be considered shechicha (6:2). According to Beit Shammai, who maintains that if a bundle was forgotten next to a stack it would save it from becoming a shechicha we have another cases that would be present a practical difference.1 If a normal bundle was forgotten next to this large one, then if it is considered a stack, according to Beit Shammai it would save it.

Both these opinions and the practical differences are presented in the Yerushalmi. The Mishnah Rishona however notes that the Gemara (Bavli, Bava Batra 72b) brings the opinion of Rav Huna that appears to be a third position. Rav Huna explains that a bundle the size of two seah has the status of a bundle (omer) and has the status of a stack (g’dish). Rav Huna explains that it is like a bundle, in that if two other bundles are forgotten along with it, they are not shichecha. It is like a stack in that if it is forgotten alone it is not shichecha. The Mishnah Rishona notes that this different to the Yerushalmi. According to the Yerushalmi, this large bundle is either defined as a bundle or a stack. According to Rav Huna however this bundle, despite being large, is still a bundle. It is only with respect to how we treat it if it is left on its own that we considered it like a stack, such that it is not considered shichecha. How can we understand this third position?

Rashi (Devarim 24:19) also cites “when you forget a bundle in the field” as the source for this law. In other words, shichecha applies when one forgot a bundle and not a stack. The Mizrachi however explains there that the Chachamim estimated that the size of a stack is no less than two seah. Since the Torah mentioned a bundle and not a stack, this would exclude a bundle of that same size. We can understand from the Mizrachi that the exclusion of the Torah was not a stack specifically, but rather the volume of a stack. Importantly, it is the volume equal to that of stack that is important and not classing the oversized bundle as a stack. This then explains the opinion of Rav Huna, that this bundle is not shichecha since it is “like” a stack in its volume. Nevertheless, it is still a bundle for the other laws of shichecha cited above.2


1 This is according to one explanation of that Mishnah that follows the opinion of R’ Yehoshua cited in the Yerushalmi.

2 This would also explain more simply why the same volume applies to exempt shechicha be’kama (forgotten uncut section). It is the volume that is the focus and not defining it as a stack, which would be difficult in the case of uncut produce.

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