There are six main parts of the Talmud:
I. ZERAIM: concerning seeds. It treats of seeds, fruits, herbs, trees; of the public and domestic use of fruits, of different seeds, etc.
II. MOED: concerning festivals. It treats of the time when the Sabbath and other festivals are to begin, ended and celebrated.
III. NASCHIM: concerning women. It treats of marrying and repudiating wives, their duties, relations, sicknesses, etc.
IV. NEZIKIN: concerning damages. It treats of damages suffered by men and animals, penalties and compensations.
V. KODASCHIM: concerning holiness. It treats of sacrifices and various sacred rites.
VI. TOHOROTH: concerning purifications. It treats of the soiling and purifying of vessels, bedclothes and other things.
Each of these six parts, which the Jews call Schishah Sedarim—six orders or ordinances—is divided into books or tracts, called Massiktoth, and the books into chapters, or Perakim.
From Seder, Order; Massekheth, Tract; Perek, Head.
I. ZERAIM > Contains eleven books or Masechtoth.
1. BERAKHOTH—Benedictions and prayers. Treats of liturgical rules.
2. PEAH—Corner of a field. Treats of the corners and gleanings of the field . . . the olives and grapes to be left to the poor.
3. DEMAI—Doubtful things. Whether or not tithes must be paid on such.
4. KILAIM—Mixtures. Treats of various mixings of seeds.
5. SCHEBIITH—the Seventh. Treats of the Sabbatical Year.
6. TERUMOTH—Offerings and Oblations. The Heave offerings for the priests.
7. MAASEROTH—the Tithes, to be given to the Levites.
8. MAASER SCHENI—the Second Tithe.
9. CHALLAH—the Dough, the portion to be given thereof to the Priests.
10. ORLAH—the Uncircumcised. Treats about the fruits of a tree during the first three years after its plantings.
11. BIKKURIM—the First Fruits to be brought to the Temple.
II. MOED > Contains twelve Books or Masechtoth.
1. SCHABBATH—the Sabbath. Treats of kinds of work prohibited on that day.
2. ERUBHIN—Combinations. Contains precepts about food for the Sabbath eve.
3. PESACHIM—Passover. Treats of the laws relating to the Feast of Passover and the Paschal Lamb.
4. SCHEKALIM—Shekel. Treats of the size and weight of the shekel.
5. IOMA—the Day of Atonement. Treats of prescriptions for that Day.
6. SUKKAH—the Tabernacle. Treats of the laws concerning the feast of Tabernacles.
7. BETSAH—the Egg of the Day of Feast. Treats of the kind of work prohibited and permitted on the festivals.
8. ROSCH HASCHANAH—New Year. Treats of the Feast of New Year.
9. TAANITH—Fasts. Treats of public fasts.
10. MEGILLAH—the Scroll. Treats of the reading of the Book of Esther. Contains the description of the Feast of Purim.
11. MOED KATON—Minor Feast. Treats of laws relating to the days intervening between the first and last days of Pesach and Succoth.
12. CHAGIGAH—Comparison of rites on on the three feasts of Pesach, Sukkoth and Tabernacles.
III. NASCHIM > Contains seven Books or Masechtoth.
1. JEBBAMOTH—Sisters in Law. Treats of Levirate marriage.
2. KETHUBOTH—Marriage Deeds. Treats of dower and marriage settlements.
4. GITTIN—booklet on Divorces.
5. NEDARIM—Vows. Treats of vows and their annulment.
6. NAZIR—the Nazarite. Treats of the laws concerning the Nazarites and those who separate themselves from the world and consecrate themselves to God.
7. SOTAH—the Woman suspected of adultery.
IV. NEZIKIN > Contains ten Books or Masechtoth.
1. BABA KAMA—First Gate. Treats of Damages and Injuries and their remedies.
2. BABA METSIA—Middle Gate. Treats of laws concerning found property, concerning trust, concerning buying and selling, lending, hiring and renting.
3. BABA BATHRA—Last Gate. Treats of laws concerning real estate and commerce, mostly based on the traditional law. Also concerning hereditary succession.
4. SANHEDRIN—Courts. Treats of the courts and their proceedings, and the punishment of capital crimes.
5. MAKKOTH—Stripes. The 40 stripes (minus one) inflicted on criminals.
6. SCHEBUOTH—Oaths. Treats different kinds of oaths.
7. EDAIOTH—Testimonies. Contains a collection of traditional laws and decisions gathers from the testimonies of the distinguished teachers.
8. HORAIOTH—Decisions. Treats of the sentences of Judges and the punishment of transgressors.
9. ABHODAH ZARAH—Idolatry.
10. ABHOTH—Fathers. Treats of laws of the fathers. It is called also PIRKE ABHOTH.
V. KODASCHIM > Contains eleven Books or Masechtoth.
1. ZEBBACHIM—Sacrifices. Treats of animal sacrifices and the mode of their offering.
2. CHULIN—Profane Things. Treats of the traditional manner of slaughtering animals for ordinary use.
3. MENACHOTH—Meat-offerings. Treats of meat-and-drink offerings.
4. BEKHOROTH—the First Born. Treats of the laws concerning the first born of man and animals.
5. ERAKHIN—Estimations. Treats of the mode in which persons dedicated to the Lord by a vow are legally appraised in order to be redeemed.
6. TEMURAH—Exchange. Treats of the laws concerning sanctified things having been exchanged.
7. MEILAH—Trespass, Sacrilege. Treats of the sins of violating or profaning sacred things.
8. KERITHUTH—Excisions. Treats of the sins subject to the punishment of excision, and their expiation by sacrifices.
9. TAMID—the Daily Sacrifice. Describes the Temple services connected with the daily morning and evening offerings.
10. MIDDOTH—Measurements. Describes the measurements and description of the Temple.
11. KINNIM—the Birds' Nests. Treats of the sacrifices consisting of fowls, the offerings of the poor, etc.
VI. TOHOROTH > Contains twelve Books or Masechtoth.
1. KELIM—Vessels. Treats of the conditions under which domestic utensils, garments, etc., receive ritual cleanness.
2. OHOLOTH—Tents. Treats of tents and houses, and how polluted and purified.
3. NEGAIM—Plagues. Treats of the laws relating to Leprosy.
4. PARAH—the Heifer. Treats of the laws concerning the red heifer and the use of its ashes for the purification of the unclean.
5. TOHOROTH—Purifications. Treats of some lesser degrees of uncleanness lasting only until sunset.
6. MIKVAOTH—Wells. Treats of the conditions under which wells and reservoirs are fit to be used for ritual purifications.
7. NIDDAH—Menstruation. Treats of the legal uncleanness arising from certain conditions in women.
8. MAKSCHIRIN—Preparations. Treats of liquids that prepare and dispose seeds and fruits to receive ritual uncleanness.
9. ZABHIM—Concerning nightly pollution and gonorrhea. Treats on the uncleanness arising from such secretions.
10 TEBHUL IOM—Daily washing.
11. IADAIM—Hands. Treats of the ritual uncleanness of hands, according to the traditional law, and of their purification.
12. OKETSIN—Stalks of fruit. Treats of stalks and shells of fruit as conveying ritual uncleanness.
The complete Talmud contains 63 books in 524 chapters.
Added to these are four other shorts tracts, which have not been included in the regular Talmud. They have been added by later writers and exponents.
These four are:
MASSEKHETH SOPHERIM > the Tract of Scribes > Treats of the mode of writing the books of the law. Has 21 chapters.
EBHEL RABBETI—a large treatise on Mourning. Has 14 chapters.
KALLAH—the Bride. On the acquisition of the bride, on her ornaments and other things pertaining to the bride. Has one chapter.
MASSEKHETH DEREKH ERETS—the Conduct of Life. Divided into RABBAH—major parts, and ZUTA—the minor parts. Has 16 chapters. At the end is added a special chapter—PEREK SCHALOM—on Peace.
Since the Talmud was such a voluminous and disordered work, there was a need of a compendium which would facilitate its study. To supply this need, therefore, Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob Alphassi, in 1032, published a Shorter Talmud, which he called Halakhoth—Constitutions. He omitted all lengthy discussions and preserved only those parts which had to do with the practical things of life. Since this work, however, had no order to it, it was not considered of great worth.
The first to issue a well ordered work on Jewish Law was Maimonides, styled the "Eagle of the Synagogue." In 1180 he produced his celebrated work Mischhah Torah—Repetition of the Law, also called Iad Chazakah—the Strong Hand. It contains four parts or volumes and 14 books and includes the whole Talmud. Maimonides also included much philosophical discussion in this work and attempted to establish many laws of his own. Because of this he was excommunicated by his people and condemned to death. He fled to Egypt where he died in the year 1205.
In spite of this, the value of his work increased in time, and for a while an expurgated version was held in the highest esteem by the Jews. A drawback to this work is that it contains many laws which were of no value after the destruction of the Temple.
An edition of the work of Maimonides, expurgated of all his philosophical innovations and of all the old, useless laws, was edited in 1340, in strict accord with the ideas of the Rabbis, by Jacob ben Ascher, to which he gave the name Arbaa Turim—The Four Orders, which are:
I. ORACH CHAIIM: The seeds of Life, and treats of the daily life in the home and in the Synagogue.
II. IORE DEAH: which teaches knowledge about foods, purifications and other religious laws.
III. CHOSCHEN HAMMISCHPAT: private judgments about civil and criminal laws.
IV. EBHEN HAEZER: The Rock of Help, which treats of the laws of marriage.
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