Any produce from which one is obligated to designate pe’a is also subject to tithes; and there is produce from which one is obligated to separate tithes but from which one is not obligated to designate pe’a.
The obligation of pe’a – literally “corner” – that requires leaving a part of the field for the poor to harvest, is based on the passage in Sefer Vayikra (19:9) “When you reap the harvest…you shall not wholly reap the corner of your field…you shall leave them for the poor.”
The Gemara teaches that there are a number of general principles concerning pe’a:
Anything that is food, is protected, grows from the earth, is gathered at the same time, and is taken in for storage is subject to pe’a.
Each of these rules limits the obligation of pe’a such that the Gemara teaches:
- ‘Anything that is food,’ excludes the growths of woad and safflower, which are not intentionally planted;
- ‘is protected,’ excludes hefker (ownerless crops);
- ‘grows from the earth,’ excludes mushrooms and truffles;
- ‘is gathered at the same time,’ excludes the fig tree;
- and ‘is taken in for storage,’ excludes vegetables.
Regarding tithes, however, the Gemara teaches:
Anything that is food, is protected, and from the earth is subject to the obligation of tithes.
The rules requiring that harvest take place at the same time and that it is taken in for storage are not mentioned.
Thus, figs and vegetables are not subject to the requirements of pe’a, but are subject to tithes.
The reason that figs are not considered a fruit whose harvest takes place at the same time is because figs are unique in that they do not all ripen on the tree at the same time. Every day – and even at different hours throughout the day – individual fruits will ripen based on how heat and sunlight hits the tree. For this reason it is commonplace to find that the fruit on the eastern and southern parts of the tree are harvested first, since they get the most direct sunlight.