Peah 4,2: Opening the Window in the Winter

Peah 4:2: Peah must be left for the poor while still connected to the ground; the owner of the field is not allowed to harvest it and distribute it to the poor. Even if 99 poor people want to have it distributed to them, and one wants to cut it from the ground himself, we listen to the one, since he is saying in accordance with the halacha.

פאה פרק ד’ משנה א-ב’: הפאה נתנת במחובר לקרקע…אפילו תשעים ותשעה אומרים לחלק ואחד אומר לבוז. לזה שומעין. שאמר כהלכה.

R’ Chaim Kanievsky in Shaarei Emunah on this Mishnah writes: “We have heard in the name of Rabbi Yisroel Salanter zt”l that if there are many people in a room and some want to open the window and others want it closed, he ruled that in the summer those who want it open win, even if it is one against a hundred; and in the winter it is the opposite. He brings proof from this Mishnah, but it seems there is no proof, because here it is a Torah law, derived from pesukim, that one must leave the peah connected to the ground, whereas there is it only a question of what is usually done, so if there is a reason to deviate from the usual, it would seem that we follow whatever the majority of the people want.”

In the winter of 2020, when many arguments developed in the shuls between cold, shivering people and people worried about catching the coronavirus, Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein followed Reb Yisroel Salanter’s opinion but with a twist to reflect the current situation: he ruled that the ones wanting the window open always win, even if they are the minority. “Let anyone who is cold buy a heater,” he said.

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