I’ve written before about a similar book by Jacob Meyer Zalkind, the Talmud in Yiddish on Masseches Berachos. Both of these are in the order Zerayim, but Peah is only in the Jerusalem Talmud.
Yaakov Meir Zalkind, or Dr. Yankev-Meyer Zalkind was an orthodox Rabbi, an anarchist friend of Rudolf Rocker and a pacifist. He was born in Kobrin in 1875 and his family descended from generations of famous rabbis, including the Chacham Tzvi, Maharshal and Tosefes Yom Tov. He was educated at the Volozhin yeshiva, and then followed a secular education at the universities of Berlin, Munich, Geneva and Berne. He spoke many languages and was a Zionist activist and prolific writer. In 1903 he emigrated to London, and was briefly a Rabbi in Cardiff before returning to London.
In 1915 he was at the University of Glasgow, studying agronomy, and in 1916 he became an opponent of the war and returned to London to campaign as an anti-militarist. He moved intellectually to anarchy, and revived the old Yiddish anarchist newspaper, Der Arbayter Fraynd, which he edited from 1920 to 1923. From 1921 he was living in Harrogate, where his wife had a millinery shop.
Combining Jewish orthodoxy with anarchism, he believed that an authentic “free society” would, in his view, be a “Talmudic society”—namely, a society in which the Talmudic ethic would lie at the foundation of its political philosophy and at the base of its legislation. He believed that from the Talmud one could today extract living sources, and this was the purpose of his vast, nearly lifelong work of translating the Talmud into Yiddish. Only four volumes were published.
In his preface Zalkind remarked that his commentary was built on the commentaries of Rambam and R. Samson of Sens, as well as Bartenuro, Pnei Moshe, Tosefos-Yom-Tov, and later commentators, as well as his own opinions here and there.
Peah (Corner) belongs to the first order, Zera’im (seeds) and discusses the regulations concerning the commandment to leave the corner of one’s field for the poor as stated in Leviticus 19:9-10, Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-22, and with the rights of the poor in general. It consists of eight chapters. This tractate is from the Jerusalem Talmud; the Babylonia Talmud has only Berakhot. The Gemarah can only be found in the Jerusalem Talmud. It includes the original Hebrew text, next to the Yiddish translation, with pointing.