Things of Specified Measure

Ahron Shemesh

The well-known mishnah at the beginning of tractate Peah reads as follows: ??? ????? ???? ??? ????? ???? ???????? ??????? ??????? ????? ?????? ????' The plain meaning of this statement is that these commandments have no fixed or minimum measure. However, the statement that pe’ah has no measure is in apparent contradiction with the mishnah that follows:

??? ?????? ???? ?????. ???"? ????? ??? ???? ????? ??? ??? ???? ???? ???? ??? ?????' ???? ??? ?????. (?? ?, ?)

The opening of this mishnah clearly states that pe’ah has a measure, one-sixtieth. As seen from the following baraita the tannaim debated how to solve this ostensible contradiction, suggesting that although peah has a specified lower limit it has no specified upper limit.

????? ???? ??? ????? ????? ???????? ??????? ??????? ????? ?????? ????.
????? ?? ?? ????? ????? ???? ?? ????? ??????. (?????? ??? ?, ? [?????? ?????? ??' 41])

This proposal’s weakness is readily apparent. By establishing a lower limit for peah alone, it differentiates peah from the remaining items mentioned in the mishnah, which have neither lower nor upper limits. Apparently this explanation did not win acceptance and PT cites two opposing baraitot on this matter:

'????? ?? ?? ????? ????? ???? ?? ????? ??????, ???????? ?????? ??? ??? ?????
?? ?????? ??? ?????. ??? ??? ???: ????? ????????? ?????? ??? ??? ????? ?? ?????
??? ????' (??? ?, ? [?? ?"?]).

Notice, that there would be no room for the second baraita (which emphasizes that they have no measure, minimum or maximum) except in objection to the stance taken by the first baraita, which parallels the tosefta.
Therefore it seems more likely, as suggested to me by Shlomo Naeh, that the words ??? ?????? ???? ????? are a later addition, and that the mishnah originally opened with “And even though they said, ‘Peah has no [specified] measure’, [the quantity designated] should always accord with the size of the field.” Accordingly, what we see here is, as in many other cases, a development over time: the initial halakhah was that peah has no measure; later halakhah set a minimum measure of no less than one-sixtieth. Indeed, establishment of uniform measures is a characteristic feature in the development of tannaitic halakhah.
In the following I shall examine the relevant halakhic sources from the Dead Sea Scrolls alongside some rabbinic parallels and establish the existence of obligatory measures in Qumran halakhah for four of the five items mentioned by the mishnah; the only exception is the ????? which is not mention in the Halakhic literature from Qumran probably due to the sectarian objection to the Temple and its priests; their view of the Temple as currently impure prevented them from carrying out this commandment.
Moreover, I will demonstrate that just as peah had a measure in actuality, so too the other four items mentioned there; several tannaitic sources (some of which testify to the early second temple period) indicate that these items as well had operative measures. Thus, the above-mentioned solution is not entirely satisfactory, and the explanation that the first two mishnayot in Peah reflect early and late halakhah is problematic. In the conclusion I submit a new suggestion to solve this problem.
Peah is but one of four gifts to the poor designated in tannaitic doctrine:

[????] ????? ????: ??? ???? ???? ???????. ??? ??????: ??? ???? ????. ???? ?????: ???? ????. (?????? ??? ?, ?? [?????? ?????? ??' 47-48])

How did the rabbis arrive at this halakhic structure? The obligation to leave some produce from the harvest appears first in Lev. 19:9-10:
??????? ?? ???? ?????
?? ???? ??? ??? ???? ???? ????? ?? ????.
????? ?? ????? ???? ???? ?? ????
???? ???? ???? ???? ??? ?' ??????'.

Each of these two verses contains two injunctions: the first verse relates to produce from the field and the second to produce from the vineyard.
Somewhat different is the commandment to give gifts to the poor found in Deut. 24:19-22:
?? ????? ????? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?? ???? ????? ??? ????? ??????? ????, ???? ????? ?' ????? ??? ???? ????.
?? ????? ???? ?? ???? ????? ??? ????? ??????? ????.
?? ????? ???? ?? ????? ????? ??? ????? ??????? ????.
????? ?? ??? ???? ???? ?????, ?? ?? ???? ????? ????? ?? ???? ???.

Only one injunction is mandated for each type of produce in these verses. However, as distinct from Leviticus, in Deuteronomy we find mention not only of the field and the vineyard but also of olive trees.
Summation of the two pericopes elicits three prohibitions that apply to produce in the field: the obligation to leave the edges uncut (peah), the prohibition against picking up gleanings (leqet), and the prohibition against coming back for a forgotten sheaf (shikheha). These three elements are the ones mentioned in tPeah 2:13, expended by the halkhah to apply to other types of produce as well.
The surprising feature in the rabbinic system is the fourth gift in the vineyard: ??????. The structure of the verses in Leviticus clearly shows that ???? ?? ????? parallels ?? ???? ??? ???, just as ??? ???? ?? ???? is the vineyard parallel to ??? ????? ?? ???? in the field. Interpreted thusly, ?? ????? derives from ??"? in the meaning of acting strictly, i.e., to harvest the grapes completely. The rabbis, however, interpreted this word differently, as meaning ‘small’, ‘nursling’, reaching thereby the explicit conclusion in mPeah 7:4 that this refers to any cluster which is not fully formed: ?? ???? ?? ?? ??? ??? ???. As a result, the poor enjoy four gifts in the vineyard: ???, ????, ??? ???????.
This maximalist reading of the pentateuchal pericopes on gifts to the poor is not the only possible one. Josephus’s account of these commandments, will illustrate my claim.
Ant. 4.230-32
When reaping and gathering in the crops ye shall not glean, but shall even leave some of the sheaves for the destitute, to come as a godsend for their sustenance; likewise at the vintage leave the little bunches for the poor, and pass over somewhat of the fruit of olive-yards to be gathered by those who have none of their own whereof to partake.

Josephus’ description seems to be very general: Scripture commands leaving some produce from the field, vineyard, and olive harvest for the poor. Is Josephus’ description superficial and deficient, or does it perhaps reflect a tradition which did not distinguish between the different types of “gifts” for the poor, understanding the biblical pericopes as a single obligation to leave produce of all species for the poor in a manner consistent with the type of produce? Analysis of the following Cave 4 passage from the Damascus Document supports, in my opinion, this second possibility.
[?? ????] ?????? ???? ?? ???? ??????
?????? ??? ???? ?? ??? ???? ????. ???? ??? ????
??? ?? ????? ??? ??? ?? ??????? ?? ???? ?[?????]
?????? ???? ???? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ???
??????? ???? [???? ]?? ??? ???? ???? ?? ???
???? ????? [????] ???? ???? ??? ????? ?? ??? ?????
??? ??? [???] ??? ???? ???? ??? ????? ?? ?????
[???]. (4Q270 frg.3ii, DJD 18, p.147)

The passage explicitly mentions three gifts and their measures: (1) [the single] grapes may be up to te[n berries]; (2) [and all the gleanings] up to a seah per bet seah; and (3) the remnants of the olive harvest… is [one out of [thi]rty. These three presents relate to the three main types of crops mentioned in the Pentateuch. The first rule relates to grapes in a vineyard, the second relates to crops in the field and the last specifies the olive harvest. The fact that we find only one halakhah for each type of crop indicates that the Qumranic halakhic tradition resembled that of Josephus, as opposed to the rabbinic traditions. The former does not distinguish between the language of the different pentateuchal commands, interpreting all the verbs in the pericopes in Leviticus and in Deuteronomy in one connotation; namely, that it is forbidden to collect the harvest completely. The changing feature is the manner in which the gift is given in accord with the nature of the crop in question; the present from the vineyard is in the form of ??????; and from the olive tree produce one should leave to the poor one out of thirty. As for the present from the field it is said: ??? ???? ?? ??? ???? ???. This is in my opinion, the general halakhic wording of the commandment ?? ???? ??? ??? ???? ????? ?? ????, translated by Qumranic halakhah as the obligation to leave the poor one seah of produce per bet seah. Interpreted thusly, leqet here resembles peah in rabbinic halakhah and has a fixed measure. This reading differs from that of Baumgarten. Counting on the use of the word ???, and on the phrase ?? ??? ???? ??? Baumgarten reads this injunction as a maximum measure for gleanings. Accordingly, the poor are allowed to follow the harvesters and to collect what falls up to a seah per bet seah.
Whereas it is correct that leqet is usually refer in rabbinic language to the fallen sheaves to be left for the poor, and that this was the nature of this gift in ancient times as conveyed by the biblical story of Ruth following the harvesters (Ruth 2), it is not imperative that it carry this meaning in CD. Even in rabbinic literature we find instances in which the verb ??"? is used to describe the gathering of other gifts to the poor and is not restricted to leqet per se. The best example is mPeah 4:9 that speaks of ?? ???? ?? ????. Similarly, we find in rabbinic literature the expression'?? ????' as referring not to the upper limit but to the required measure. The sugia from PT cited bellow, after establishing the maximum amount one may spend for charity as one fifth of his possessions, requires for the minimum amount using the words “?? ????”.
It may then be that ???? ???? in this Qumran halakhah relates to the gifts left for the poor in advance and not to what is left after the fact. The advantage of this proposal is that the halakhah in question regarding the field then parallels the first halakhah that treats the vineyard and the third halakhah that deals with the olive crop.
In summation we can then say that the Qumranic tradition has set measures for the presents donated to the poor from the produce being harvested. The main distinction between this halakhah and the rabbinic one is that in Qumranic halakhah we find one gift, whereas rabbinic halakhah distinguishes between various types: ???, ????, and ??? .

Before leaving this subject one short comment on ?????? is in order here. As mention earlier the expression ?? ????? appears in both Leviticus and Deuteronomy. From the context in both passages, the meaning of the phrase is not to pick the vineyard bare, in the connotation of acting violently or strictly—??????. Yet, we find both tannaitic and Qumranic halakhah diverging from the plain meaning of the text and interpreting ???? in its connotation of small. Although the practical definition differs in each case--in the mishnah we find it as any cluster without a shoulder or a pendant, whereas at Qumran the definition is up to ten berries--nevertheless, linguistically the meaning is the same. This then is an example of an early exegetical tradition shared by sectarian and by rabbinic halakhah. The difference between the two is that in Qumran halakhah ?????? are the only gift given to the poor from the vineyard produce, while in rabbinic halakhah, ?????? are to be given in adition to other categories of gifts, ???, ???, and ????.

In a forthcoming article on the laws of the firstfruits in Qumran I argued that as opposed to rabbinic halakhah’s distinction between terumah and bikkurim and its requirement that two separate gifts be given to the priests from the crops, Qumran halakhah did not distinguish between biblical ????? and ?????, requiring but one gift - firstfruits. Here I shall focus only on the question of the “measure,” namely the required size of the gift of firstfruits.
This is, so I suggest the subject of the following passage from the Cave 4 documents of CD. Prof. Elisha Qimron, who is preparing a new edition of the Damascus Documents kindly provide me with his reading and reconstructions suggestions of this passage. Here I present you with his reconstruction, along with several suggestions of my own marked by bold letters:

????? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ??[? ?? ???? ???? ??]???
[???? ??]?? ?[??? ??] ????? ???? ???? ??? ?????. [????? ???? ???]???
[???? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ???]?? ???. ?? ???? ??? ????? ??? [??]? ?? ????
[?? ?]???? ??? [?? ???]? ??? [???? ?]?? ???? ??? ????? [????]??? ?? ???
[???]? ????????

Three textual facts form the basis for the reconstructions suggested here and for my interpretation of this passage: (1) three types of produce are mentioned in these lines: ????, ?[?], ?[?]?? ???; (2) the passage deals with some sort of present to the priests as shown by the reference made to them ??? ????? [????]??? , and (3) the measure for the gift from the threshing floor is isaron . Mentioned scores of times in Qumran literature, without exception, isaron refers to a measurement equivalent to one-tenth of an ephah. On this basis I conclude that the size of this gift is predetermined and that it is not a proportional gift from the crop.
What then is the present from the threshing floor whose measure equals an isaron? In my opinion, it is the firstfruits from the grain and it is based upon the biblical paradigm of the omer. Concerning the omer Scripture states: “When you enter the land…and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest” (Lev. 23:10). The measure for the omer is an isaron, as Scripture states: “The omer is a tenth of an ephah” (Exod. 16:36). The measure for private offerings of firstfruits then equals that of the public offering.
If this is the case, the continuation of the halakhah also treats firstfruits: the firstfruits of the wine and oil. It is well known that three firstfruit festivals were celebrated in the Qumran calendar: for grain, wine, and oil. The Temple Scroll mandates that on the Festival of the First Fruits of Wine four hins shall be brought from all the tribes of Israel, a third of a hin for each tribe (19:14-15), and that on the Festival of the First Fruits of Oil, each tribe shall bring half a hin of oil (21:15-16). The reconstruction suggested here for the remainder of the text is based on the assumption that for each of these types of bikkurim the amount of the private offering is equivalent to the public one. Consequently, for the firstfruits of oil and wine one must measure a hin (one-sixth of an ephah or bat) from the press. From this hin one must measure a third of a hin for wine and half of a hin for bikkurim of oil. According to the proposed reconstruction, the halakhah adds to the treatment of oil, the law of fruit-bearing trees. Evidently, the law refers to fruits from which juices were extracted (pomegranate or date juice) and establishes the amount of bikkurim as one-half hin, as for oil, and not one-third as for wine. This reading harmonizes with the halakhah of new produce found in line 4: “Let[ no ] man eat [from the fie]ld and from [the vineyard and] from the garden before [the prie]sts stretch forth their hand [to ble]ss first.” Three types of habitats appear here: field (??? ) vineyard (???) , and garden (???). Field per se is an unirrigated one, generally used to grow grains. ??? is the habitat of the grape and the olive and like the field is not irrigated. The garden, on the other hand, receives irrigation on a regular basis. Although ??? per se usually refers to a vegetable garden, several types of trees, such as pomegranates, nuts, and dates, were grown in gardens (orchards). Indeed, juices can be extracted from these crops as well: pomegranate nectar, nut oil, and date liquor.
Summing up, we can state that as opposed to the mishnah’s statement that bikkurim “have no [specified] measure,” Qumran halakhah sets an exact measure for this offering. Nonetheless, the tannaitic traditions do not provide an entirely unequivocal picture. The tradition that bikkurim have no set measure appears in yet another mishnah: ?? ?????? ?????? ?? ???? ?? ???????:
??????? ?????? [...] ??? ??? ????, [...] ?? ???? ?? ???????
However, another tradition is found in the following two baraitot:

??? ???????? ??? ????? ????? ??? ??? ????? ????? ???? ??? ????'. ??? ?' ??????
???????? ??? ????? ???? ??? ????? ????? ??? ??? ????? ????? ???? ??? ?????
????? ???? ?????? ??????? ???? ??? ?????' (???????, ??????? ?, ? [?? ?"?]).

According to this tradition, the rabbis equalized the amounts for bikkurim, peah, and terumah, making the standard measure for them one-sixtieth, even though Scripture established no specified measure.

?????? ?????
The PT explains that Gemilut Chasadim in the mishnah refers to works of kindness with one’s body and not to charity. This is because according to the tradition received by the amoraim, charity does have minimum and maximum measures. Though these traditions are relatively late (the upper limit was established in Ushah and the lower limit by the amoraim) it is not surprising to find that the institution of obligatory charity appears already in qumranic halakhah.
In the following Cave 4 passage from CD we read:

??? ??? ????? ????? ?? ??????. ??? ??? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ????? ?? ?? ?????
???????? ???? ???? ??? ???? ????? ?????? ??? ??? ?????? ????? ??? ???? ?????
??? ????? ????? ???? ???? ??? ??????? ??? ??? ?? ???? ????? ??? ??? ?? ????
[??]??? ????? ???? ??? ???? ??? ???? ????. (???? ???? ??, 12-15)

This brief passage describes a multipartite communal social services network. The amount of tax set is ??? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??????. Thus, charity has a minimum amount but no maximum. It is unclear whether these two days of wages represent a fixed rate or were relative to the personal revenues of each member of the community. Charlotte Hempel notes that, in the version of the passage found in 4Q266, the words ??? ???? are missing and suggests that the law in question underwent development: at first it was a yearly tax collected during the meeting of all the camps, becoming a monthly tax at a later stage.

????? ????
??? ??? ????? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ???? ????? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ??? ?????
?????? ?????? ???? ?? ?????? ??? ????? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ?????
????. (??"? ?, 6-8).
This passage contains two injunctions concerning Torah study. The first demands that in every community of ten or more people Torah be studied continuously, “day and night.” My interest lies in the second injunction: ?????? ?????? ???? ?? ?????? ??? ????? ????, which apparently refers to one-third of each night--the first third--and not to a total of one-third of all the nights of a year. It is not just by chance that this is the defining criterion for the time until which the Shema can be recited according to R. Eliezer: “until the end of the first watch” (mBer. 1:1). It was Y. D. Gilat who first suggested that the source of the obligation to recite the Shema is part of the takkanah for establishing the minimum requirement for daily Torah study.

The History of the Creation of Measurements: Between Qumran and the Mishnah
We have seen that Qumran halakhah had fixed and binding measurements for the undefined obligations mentioned in the Mishnah. Sometimes, these represent the lower limit, as in CD’s requirement for charity (“a wage of two days every month at least”); in other cases the measurement seems to reflect the accepted norm (as seen with regard to the gifts to the poor from produce). This fact ostensibly seems exceptional within the accepted approach to the study of the history of halakhah, which usually explains early halakhah as less formed than rabbinic halakhah. One characteristic of Qumran halakhah is that it lacks individual specifications and halakhic distinctions, which evidently developed at a later period within the broader context of Torah study and exegesis. This is indeed correct with regard to other measurements treated in different contexts in rabbinic literature. Thus, for example, Qumran halakhah does not contain discussions of such issues as “How much food which had not been tithed at all does one eat so as to be liable?” (mMakk. 3:2) or the minimal size a garment has to be in order to classified as a garment that is liable to impurity. What then fostered the early development of exact measurements for the obligations in question?
From various places in Qumran literature a picture emerges of members and candidates in constant anxiety to scrupulously fulfill their religious obligations and to avoid forbidden acts. The fear of transgression heightens the creation of strict norms, to the extent of avoiding acts permissible in and of themselves for fear that they will lead to sin. On the other hand, when dealing with positive commandments this is ineffectual. The devout believer has difficulty determining if he has properly fulfilled the generally worded scriptural commandment. This forms the background, in my opinion, to the measures discussed above. The fixing of minimum measures for a defined obligation is the solution whereby the sectarian member can be freed from constant worry: if you have set aside the correct amount of peah and firstfruits, or if you have donated the equivalent of two days’ monthly wages--you have fulfilled your obligation.
This analysis concords with the description of sectarian religiosity set forth by Adiel Schremer in his article “[T]he[y] Did Not Read in the Sealed Book.” Schremer, who relied on Haym Soloveitchik’s analysis of present day ultra-Orthodox circles, noted the process of ever-growing halakhic stringency among the Qumran sectarians, which he regards as text-based religiosity. The desire to ???? ?? ???? ???? ???? ??? ???, ???? ?? ????? ???' (??"? ?, 8-9) (to return to the Law of Moses (according to all he commanded) with all his heart and with all his mind. (Wise, p. 132) necessarily leads to greater halakhic stringency because everywhere where there is a seeming gap between the demands of the text and actual practice, the text wins and overtakes the accepted convention. Moreover, wherever the text is open to various explanations, the most stringent one will prevail. Against this religiosity we find the Pharisaic one, based as Josephus testifies, on ancestral tradition. Observance of the commandments in the latter society flows more naturally because its members feel relatively greater confidence in their actions, which they perform in the accustomed manner. A member of the Pharisaic community did not ask himself if the commandment he fulfilled met the requirements of written scriptural injunction; his confidence in the correct performance was grounded in the fact that his parents and teachers, and previous generations, acted in this fashion. The innovative aspect of Schremer’s argument lies in his suggestion that the development of tannaitic midrash and the increased emphasis on Torah study among the sages was in reaction to the Sadducean-sectarian conception. The latter’s text-based religiosity challenged the Pharisees and their heirs to attempt to anchor their traditions in the text, which they accomplished via homiletical treatment.
It seems to me that a similar process can be described with reference to the measurements. But, first, we must pay attention to a hitherto unmentioned point. In essence, it is obvious that when the mishnah states “these are things that have no specified measure” it reflects a reality in which measurements are in effect. Perhaps its intent was to show that these things in particular have no specified measure as opposed to others that do. It is also possible that it is taking a stand against the notion that the specific commandments in the list in question have measures. In light of the discussion here it is certainly possible that the mishnah represents Pharisaic-rabbinic opposition to Sadducean-sectarian religiosity. The latter designated measurements for the fulfillment of these mitzvoth but the mishnah deems otherwise. To the text-based religiosity of the Sadducees the mishnah represents the Pharisaic tradition of religiosity grounded in ancestral tradition, which, as noted, does not require binding normative determinations but educates the public to fulfill its obligations naturally as previous generations had. Moreover, the mishnah expresses opposition to the over-legalization of sectarian halakhah; it therefore establishes that these things have no specified measure. If this description of the historical chronology of the texts is correct, then we find that in this matter, as in the question of the authority of the text, that the Sadducean-Qumran notion ultimately prevailed. We have seen in the course of this discussion that the rabbis quickly developed a system of obligatory measurements for these matters.