Open main menu

The minor tractates (Hebrew: מסכתות קטנות, masechtot qetanot) are essays from the Tannaitic period or later dealing with topics about which no formal tractate exists in the Mishnah. They may thus be contrasted to the Tosefta, whose tractates parallel those of the Mishnah. The first eight or so contain much original material; the last seven or so are collections of material scattered throughout the Talmud.[1]

The Minor Tractates are normally printed at the end of Seder Nezikin in the Talmud. They include:[1][2]

  1. Avot of Rabbi Natan (Hebrew: אבות דרבי נתן), an expansion of Pirkei Avot.[1]
  2. Soferim (Hebrew: סופרים – Scribes). This tractate appears in two different versions in the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds.
  3. Evel Rabbati (Hebrew: אבל רבתי – Elaboration on Mourning). Contains laws and customs pertaining to death and mourning, and is sometimes euphemistically called Semahot ("joys").[1]
  4. Kallah (Hebrew: כלה – Bride). On engagement, marriage and co-habitation.
  5. Kallah Rabbati (Hebrew: כלה רבתי – Great Bride). An elaboration of the previous
  6. Derekh Eretz Rabbah (Hebrew: דרך ארץ רבה) "Derekh Eretz" literally means "the way of the world," which in this context refers to deportment, manners and behavior.
  7. Derekh Eretz Zuta (Hebrew: דרך ארץ זוטא) Addressed to scholars, this is a collection of maxims urging self-examination and modesty.
  8. Pereq ha-Shalom (Hebrew: פרק השלום – Chapter of Peace). On the ways of peace between people. It is a final chapter to Derekh Eretz Zuta, often listed separately.
  9. Sefer Torah (regulations for writing Torah scrolls).
  10. Mezuzah (Hebrew: מזוזה – scroll affixed to the doorpost).
  11. Tefillin (Hebrew: תפילין – phylacteries).
  12. Tzitzit (Hebrew: ציצית – fringes).
  13. Avadim (Hebrew: עבדים – slaves).
  14. Gerim (Hebrew: גרים – conversion to Judaism).
  15. Kutim (Hebrew: כותים – Samaritans).

There is also a lost tractate called "Eretz Yisrael" (about laws pertaining to the Land of Israel).[3] Similarly, a Masechet Hanukkah is mentioned in connection with the Vilna Gaon, but is not extant.[4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Abramowitz, Jack. "The 14 "Minor" Tractates". ou.org. Orthodox Union. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica, Minor Tractates
  3. ^ Masechtot Ketanot
  4. ^ R' Avraham ben haGra, Rav Pe'alim, introduction to seven tractates

External linksEdit

  Media related to Minor tractates (Talmud) at Wikimedia Commons