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Regarding the obligation to affix fringes, the Torah commands them to be attached to the corners (kanfei) of the clothing. But when it comes to our fields and our faces, the commandments refer to the corners as pei'ot -- Vayikra 19:9 reads " לֹ֧א תְכַלֶּ֛ה פְּאַ֥ת שָׂדְךָ֖" and 19:27 has "לֹ֣א תַקִּ֔פוּ פְּאַ֖ת רֹאשְׁכֶ֑ם". [Note -- the English used by Sefaria has "edges" for the former and "side-growth" for the latter while the English on the Chabad.org site has "corners" for both.]

Is there a technical difference between the type or nature of the "corners" that makes the word kanaf appropriate for clothing and pe'ah for fields and faces?

  • Why isn't this a duplicate of the linked question?
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 3:14
  • @DonielF the other one doesn't mention Pe'ah as corner
    – rosends
    Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 10:29

1 Answer 1


Kanaf applies distinctly to the edge of clothing because its nature is that of the outer, lighter part of a bird's wing. And it is precisely the [mobility and] coverability of that body part that defines it, in contrast to ever/evra, which is the whole of the wing, or agaf, which is the forewing right where it attaches to the body. Malbim puts a fine point on "kanaf" in T'hilim 91:4.

בְּאֶבְרָתוֹ יָסֶךְ לָךְ וְתַחַת כְּנָפָיו תֶּחְסֶה

With his wing he surrounds you and under his wingfeathers you huddle

ויש הבדל בין אבר ובין כנף, שהכנף הם הנוצות הארוכות המחוברות בקצה האבר המעופף שנקרא אבר, והעוף יסך ויגן ע"י האבר בצדדי אפרוחיו ויפרוש הכנפים שהם הנוצות למעלה למחסה עליהם

And there is a difference between "ever" and "kanaf", for the "kanaf" is the long feathers attached to the end of the flying limb which is called "ever", and the bird surrounds and protects with the wing to the sides of its chicks and spreads out its k'nafayim, which are the feathers, to cover them from above.

For more on wing terms in Tana"ch see באור שמות הרדפים שבתנ"כ pp. 9-11.

This shows why this term wouldn't be fitting to carry over to a face or land, but it doesn't explain why pe'a couldn't be used for clothes.

Klein interestingly lists several cognates for פאה, concluding with the assertion that "All these words prob. meant originally ‘part cut off’". If it were so it would fit perfectly with the facial and fieldial examples you gave, both of which deal with (not) cutting off the edge of the object under consideration.

  • This answer leads to an understanding of kanaf as edge, not corner.
    – rosends
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 21:54
  • @rosends Yes. I believe it does.
    – WAF
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 21:55
  • @rosends I believe most of the time in מסכת פאה that word is also used to mean the end of a row or field or field segment in at least one dimension but not necessarily two or more. I have not provided any evidence for the two dimensional application of any of the words, but I don't think that lessens the distinction between them.
    – WAF
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 22:03

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