Translation:Mishnah/Seder Zeraim/Tractate Peah/Chapter 1/1

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The agricultural laws discussed in this and the following tractates are based on "measures," i.e. on quantities and percentages. At the outset, however, this first mishnah informs us that some things have no measure, and it is a person’s heart that decides the amount to do or give.

Specifically, this tractate begins by dealing with the "corners of the field" that are left for the poor (Vayikra 19:9, 23:22). This obligation has no measure according to biblical law, and the size of a field’s "corners" is completely up to the owner of the field. However, rabbinical decree later set a minimum size for the "corner": at least one-sixtieth must be left for the poor (see next mishnah).

Hebrew Text

אֵלּוּ דְבָרִים שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם שִׁעוּר:
הַפֵּאָה, וְהַבִּכּוּרִים, וְהָרְאָיוֹן,
וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים, וְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה.
אֵלּוּ דְבָרִים שֶׁאָדָם אוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹתֵיהֶם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה,
וְהַקֶּרֶן קַיֶּמֶת לוֹ לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:
כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם,
וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים,
וַהֲבָאַת שָׁלוֹם בֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ;
וְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה כְּנֶגֶד כֻּלָּם.

English Translation

These are the things that have no measure:
The Peah of the field, the first-fruits, the appearance [at the Temple in Jerusalem on Pilgrimage Festivals],
acts of kindness, and the study of the Torah.
These are things the fruits of which a man enjoys in this world,
while the principle remains for him in the World to Come:
Honoring father and mother,
acts of kindness,
and bringing peace between a man and his fellow.
But the study of Torah is equal to them all.



The first part of the mishnah lists things that have no measure: the size of a field’s “corners,” whose produce is left for the poor; how many “first fruits” to bring to Jerusalem as an offering; and how often to appear at the Temple during Pilgrimage Festivals, or how large an offering to bring when one appears. “Acts of kindness” and “study of the Torah” also have no predetermined legal measure, but rather each person decides how much to do.

The second part of the mishnah lists acts which benefit a person both during his lifetime and in the World to Come. The “principle” of the heavenly reward for these deeds is reserved for the World to Come, while the “fruits” (i.e. the profits or interest) are enjoyed during his lifetime.

That have no measure: That is, they are things whose value cannot be measured.

Peah: The namesake of this tractate, the Peah is the "corner" of a farmer's field that must be reserved for the poor.

First-fruits: When the Temple in Jerusalem was standing, Jews would bring the first fruits of their produce to a kohen on Shavuot in the early summer, after which the kohen would ask them to explain the Torah. The amount of first-fruits that would be given to the kohen would be up to the individual, hence its inclusion here in things which lack measurability.