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I know that peah applies to fields of food crops (not other produce) and that halacha is to leave at least 1/60 of the field unharvested for this purpose.

What I haven't found is whether there is a minimum field size for the halacha to apply at all. I think the torah had in mind things like wheat fields, but what about a household vegetable garden? Do we assume that the poor would come and collect 1/60 of even a small field, even if that turns out to be three tomatoes? Is there a size below which we say the requirement does not apply, either for practicality or for some other reason? (On "some other reason": I know that a very small room doesn't get a mezuzah, so the concept of a minimum size might apply to other mitzvot too.)

I know there are different opinions about where/whether peah applies today. I'm not asking about that. I'm asking: if peah applies, does it apply to even small fields, or is there a size threshold?

  • If no one will bother to come then you don't need to leave it for the birds. But that doesn't fundamentally answer your question. – Double AA Jul 8 at 16:29
  • @DoubleAA I'm thinking that the rabbis might have identified a size below which people won't bother, but maybe you have to determine that empirically (if nobody comes for 3 years in a row or whatever, you can stop doing it). Or maybe they say that there's always a chance someone will come to collect so you need to do it no matter what. – Monica Cellio Jul 8 at 17:14
  • Non-jew passer-by here. Is peah taken literally in modern times? It's a great sentiment, but crops grown today are in rural areas that are far from the needy (who are mostly in urban centres, and without access to transport). I don't think it's very likely they'll come picking from strangers' fields, even if it looked available. Wouldn't it make more sense to pick it and donate it? Or pick it, sell it, and donate the proceeds to charity? – Alexander Jul 9 at 3:43
  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, @Alexander. This is one of the laws that (if I understand correctly) only applies in Israel, where it might be more practical to have this food near those who need it. DoubleAA's comment implies that if the fields are in a place where poor people don't come, then you don't have to waste it by letting it rot or get eaten by wildlife, so collecting it to redistribute makes sense. More broadly, we have laws about tithes and supporting the poor in our communities, even beyond peah, so I have hopes that food is getting to those in need. But we must not be complacent. – Monica Cellio Jul 9 at 3:57
  • @Alexander legally speaking the obligation of Peah is entirely passive, so if no one is going to come to your field then you don't have to leave anything for the birds and you have no obligation to leave it and collect it and bring it to the poor. If you did so that would certainly be considered giving charity and a good thing, but it would be seen as entirely voluntary as far as this law is concerned. In short, you're right that this law is rarely applicable anymore. – Double AA Jul 9 at 11:27
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This is the subject of a debate in Peah 3:6.

The halachah follows R. Akiva’s opinion that there is no minimum size (Rambam Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 2:3).

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