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Vayikra 23:22:

וּבְקֻצְרְכֶם אֶת קְצִיר אַרְצְכֶם לֹא תְכַלֶּה פְּאַת שָׂדְךָ בְּקֻצְרֶךָ וְלֶקֶט קְצִירְךָ לֹא תְלַקֵּט לֶעָנִי וְלַגֵּר תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם

When you reap the harvest of your Land, you shall not completely remove the corner of your field during your harvesting, and you shall not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. [Rather,] you shall leave these for the poor person and for the stranger

Vayikra 19:10:

וְכַרְמְךָ לֹא תְעוֹלֵל וּפֶרֶט כַּרְמְךָ לֹא תְלַקֵּט לֶעָנִי וְלַגֵּר תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם

And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you collect the [fallen] individual grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger

( Chabad.org translations )

I always read these verses as saying that we should give פאה (a corner of the field designated for the poor to take) and לקט (forgotten stalks, left for the poor to take) and other מתנות עניים (gifts to the poor) like פרט ועוללות (grapes that fall off the vine by harvest, and funny-looking clusters of grapes [פאה ד:ג-ד]) to the poor and to the גר, because the גר is, generally speaking, in a disadvantaged position.

However, a friend of mine just raised the point that ממה נפשך -- if the גר is poor, then he is an עני (pauper); if he isn't poor, then (presumably) he doesn't take לקט and פאה.
So why should these verses specify גר?

The גר here is the גר צדק, the convert, as codified by Rambam (Rambam, Hilchot Matnot Aniyiim 1:9), who adds that we do not withhold charity from non-Jews, מפני דרכי שלום in order to keep the peace.

  • (1) Re: the Ger mentioned here being a Ger Tzedeq: That's how the Mishneh Torah Hilkhot Matenot Aniyim 1:9 understands it, adding that Gentile poor be allowed Matenot Aniyim because of Darkhei Shalom. (2) Personally, I think the Ger is mentioned with the poor lest you think that the same way Ani means Israelite poor to exclude Gentiles (if not for Darkhei Shalom), it would also mean natural born Israelite poor to exclude Gerim. – Tamir Evan Dec 7 '14 at 17:41
  • @TamirEvan (1) Thanks for that source! (2) Why would I exclude Gerim? Is there any precedent for that in other d'rashot? – MTL Dec 7 '14 at 18:09
  • "Why would I exclude Gerim"? Let me ask it this way: Without the mention of Gerim in the verses, if a Ger Tzedeq comes to my land (assuming I'm a natural born Israelite) to collect Matenot Aniyim, why can't I prevent him, to the same extent I can prevent a Gentile or a Ger Toshav? As it is, the Torah limits him in his right to inherit land, in who he can marry his daughter to, and in which positions he can assume. How would you know where to draw the line? – Tamir Evan Dec 7 '14 at 19:26
  • But he's still Jewish, and still poor. I would argue he's considered to be a Jew until proven otherwise in those specific instances....though I have no proof for why I think that. Possibly because of Vayikra 19:33, where we are commanded to minimize the discomfort of the ger, as much as possible. – MTL Dec 7 '14 at 19:32
  • (a) He is still Jewish, yet land he acquires he looses at the Yovel, and none reverts to him, if a woman, she can't marry a Kohen, and he can't assume positions of authority (even over water distribution to fields). (b) One could still minimize the discomfort of the poor Ger without making what's left in one's field available to him. (c) You may be reading the result of the inclusion of the Ger in these verses into it's hypothetical absence. – Tamir Evan Dec 7 '14 at 20:34
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The Sifra (19:11) says that without the inclusion of the "Ger" you would think that the poor would include לעני מאחרים - to the poor from others, a rather cryptic term.

The ביאור compiled from the Raavad, Rash, and Korban Aharon on Toras Kohanim here explains that it means a non-Jew is not entitled to collect these gifts, which would not have been excluded without mentioning the "Ger".

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I'm throwing this out as a possible answer (more of a thought, really) without really doing any research to see if it actually fits.

The Talmud, Yevamos 47b, tells us that when one accepts a convert one must teach him the laws of Leket, Shikcha, and Peah. Rashi explains that this is because a Ben Noach who steals is put to death. We are worried that if the new convert sees people taking the Leket, Shikcha or Peah he will think they are stealing and kill them without warning.

Perhaps we can connect this idea to the verses mentioned in the question. Since the laws of Leket, Shikcha, and Peah are novel to the ger, the passuk adds mention of the ger as well.

  • 1
    This sounds like the makings of an excellent Asmakhta. – Double AA Oct 11 '16 at 4:00
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I would argue that the גֵּר is mentioned in Leviticus 19 and 23 above along with the עָנִי above because it was not uncommon for a convert to also be needy. The Torah warns 36 times, according to Bava Metzia 59b, against wronging a convert. So the warnings against treating a convert differently go back to the time of Moses. It is not difficult to imagine that if converts were being treated differently that they would also be outsiders from an economic point of view.

Based on this reasoning, Leviticus 19 and 23 mention the convert as a special class of people in line with the 36 other admonitions which appear throughout the Torah.

  • I know that גרים are usually in a disadvantaged position....but I assume (maybe incorrectly) that if a given גר would not be poor, then he wouldn't take....then why do you need to tell me about him? If he's poor, let him take because he's an עני; if he's not poor, then he doesn't belong in this verse. – MTL Dec 7 '14 at 5:02
  • @Shokhet I consider the inclusion of גֵּר as leading to two messages in one. First, leave the corners of your field for the needy (including converts), and second do not oppress converts as a general rule. This was a good opportunity to remind us our obligation towards converts. – Tim Biegeleisen Dec 7 '14 at 6:49
  • I hear that....but how much of a reminder do we really need, after Vayikra 19:33? Also, why specifically these two verses/four commandments? – MTL Dec 7 '14 at 15:46
  • The Talmud warns 36 times in Bava Metzia 59b against wronging a convert Actually, the Talmud only mentions this once there. – mevaqesh Oct 11 '16 at 14:34
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Since a ger would not have received a portion of land with the Bnei Yisrael (entering after the 40 years in the desert), then he would not have been able to harvest his own crop. As a result, he would be among the needy who would not have a harvest to use to provide food. Therefore, the Bnai Yisrael are warned that they should make sure that he has enough to be able to live.

  • Would a very rich גר also be able to take לקט etc? – MTL Dec 7 '14 at 5:03

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