Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90

Mr. Hertz owned agricultural plots both in Israel and outside of Israel. Each year, he harvested his grain and fruit and earned his living from them.

This year, as he read Parashas Kedoshim, he began to wonder. The Torah (Vayikra 19:9-10; Devarim 24:19-21) commands us to leave certain gifts for the poor – matnos aniyim – namely, leket (or peret), individual stalks of grain or grapes that fall while harvesting; shikcha, bundles of wheat or trees that were inadvertently overlooked when collecting the harvest; and pe’ah – the final corner of the field or certain orchards that are picked in one harvest.


“I never heard of anyone giving these gifts,” Mr. Hertz said to his wife. “The profit margin that we earn is not so great; if I have to give these gifts, it will cut further into our profit.”

“If no one gives them, then presumably there is no need!” replied Mrs. Hertz. “You’re not the only observant farmer in this region. And it’s not a new question; presumably this has been the situation for generations!”

“The plots outside of Israel I’m not so worried about,” replied Mr. Hertz. “I assume that these agricultural mitzvos apply only in Israel, like almost all other agricultural mitzvos (mitzvos hateluyos baAretz). I’m more concerned about the plots that I own in Israel. I don’t know what the practice is there. Maybe farmers there do give these gifts to the poor.”

“You could try speaking to an Israeli rav,” suggested Mrs. Hertz. “I assume they deal with this question regularly.”

“I don’t know who to ask, though,” said Mr. Hertz.

“Well, then consult with a rav here,” replied Mrs. Hertz. “I’m sure that someone is knowledgeable about this also. If not, he can always look up the halacha.”

“I wonder if Rabbi Dayan might know about this,” wondered Mr. Hertz. “Ultimately, it relates to my business.”

“It doesn’t hurt to ask!” said Mrs. Hertz.

Mr. Hertz called Rabbi Dayan and asked: “Am I obligated to leave leket, shikcha, and pe’ah from my fields? What about those in Israel?”

“The Torah requires us to leave leket, shikcha, and pe’ah for the poor from our fields and certain orchards,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “Like other agricultural mitzvos, it applies mi’d’Oraysa only in Israel, but the Gemara (Chullin 137b) teaches that pe’ah applies mi’d’Rabbanan even outside of Israel; presumably the same is true also for leket and shikcha (Rambam, Hil. Matnos Aniyim 1:14).

“Nonetheless, the purpose of these matnos aniyim is for the benefit of the Jewish poor. Moreover, the Mishna (Pe’ah 8:1) teaches that once the last of the poor have finished going through the field, anyone can take what remains, since it then becomes hefker. This is because there is no inherent sanctity to these gifts, just the monetary obligation involved.

“Based on this, the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 332:1) writes that if there are no Jewish poor in the area, there is no need to leave these matnos aniyim. Rema adds that, therefore, the common practice is not to leave these matnos aniyim, since mostly they will be taken by gentiles.

“Shach (Y.D. 332:1) indicates that this leniency is only outside of Israel, where the obligation is mi’d’Rabbanan, but most poskim rule that the Rema’s leniency was intended even in Eretz Yisrael (Gra and Pisc’hei Teshuvah 332:1).

“Furthermore, Chazon Ish (Maasros 7:10) writes that even nowadays in Israel – where most of the people are Jewish – the law of the Rema doesn’t change,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “Seemingly no poor person will go to collect grain from the fields. It is not financially worthwhile for him, in addition to the effort involved in processing the grain.” (Mishpetei Eretz, Terumos u’Maasros 5:11-12).

Verdict: The primary obligation of matnos aniyim is for the Jewish poor. Therefore, poskim write that nowadays, there is no need to give them, since seemingly they will not accomplish their intended purpose. When the poor have no interest in these gifts, there is no obligation.


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This article is intended for learning purposes and cannot be used for final halachic decision. There are also issues of dina d’malchusa to consider in actual cases.

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