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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Seder Zeraim (Hebrew: סדר זרעים‎, romanizedSeder Zra'im, lit. "Order of Seeds") is the first of the six orders, or major divisions, of the Mishnah, Tosefta, and the Talmud, and, apart from the first tractate which concerns the rules for prayers and blessings, primarily deals with the laws of agricultural produce and tithes of the Torah which apply in the Land of Israel, in both their religious and social aspects.


Zeraim deals principally with the religious and social aspects of the agricultural laws of the Torah. It explains and elaborates upon the Torah commandments regarding to the rights of the poor and of the priests and Levites to the produce of the harvest, as well as the rules and regulations concerning the cultivation and sowing of fields, gardens and orchards. These laws are dealt with in eleven tractates, each of which concerns a separate aspect of the general subject for which this Order is named. The first tractate, Berakhot, concerns the daily prayers and blessings that observant Jews are obligated to recite.[1]

One explanation for the inclusion of the tractate Berakhot, whose topic is seemingly quite different from the remainder of the tractates of the Order is given in the Talmud itself (Shabbat 31a), by Resh Lakish, who homiletically states that the first of the six terms in a verse in Isiah (Isa 33:6) – the word “emunah” (faith) corresponds to Seder Zeraim. This designation is seen as addressing how regulations regarding prayers and blessings – and especially those concerning the recital of the Shema prayer – the emblematic Jewish declaration of faith in the One God – came to be grouped with agricultural laws, which are seen both as an expression of faith through reliance on God and, according to Rashi, the foremost Talmudic commentator (1040 – 1105 CE), as an expression of faithfulness in social relationships, by providing their respective dues to the poor and the priests and Levites as described in the other tractates of this Order.[1]


Seder Zeraim comprises eleven tractates, with a total of 74 chapters, as follows:[1][2]


Zeraim is the first seder (order or division) of the Mishnah, in accordance with the traditional order specified by Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish in the Talmud (Shabbat 31a), although Rabbi Tanhuma suggests in the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:15–16) that another tradition has Zeraim as the second order of the Mishnah.

Seder Zeraim differs from the general pattern of the other orders that the tractates are arranged in descending order of the number of chapters and, in fact, according to an early tradition, Shevi’it and Kil'ayim come between Terumot and Ma'aserot. There is also evidence that Demai was placed between Kilayim and Ma'aserot.[3]

In many editions of the Mishnah, even early ones like those of Naples (1492), and of Riva (1559), as well as in most of the editions of the Babylonian Talmud, a fourth chapter, which is likely a Baraita, has been added to Bikkurim. The sequence of the volumes of Zeraim in both editions (as above) corresponds with that given by Maimonides.


Zeraim was compiled and edited between 200–220 CE by Rabbi Yehudah haNasi and his colleagues, as part of the Mishnah, the first major composition of Jewish law and ethics based on the Oral Torah. Subsequent generations produced a series of commentaries and deliberations relating to the Mishnah, known as the Gemara. These together with the Mishnah compose the Talmud: one produced in the Land of Israel c. 300–350 CE (the Jerusalem Talmud); and a second, more extensive Talmud compiled in Babylonia and published c. 450–500 CE (the Babylonian Talmud).

For Zeraim, in the Babylonian Talmud, there is Gemara – rabbinical commentary and analysis – only for tractate Berakhot. In the Jerusalem Talmud there is a Gemara for all the tractates of Zeraim, as the laws with which they deal mostly concern the Land of Israel, where this Talmud was compiled and these laws were applicable.[3][1]

References and sources

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Epstein, I., ed. (1948). "Introduction". The Talmud. Zeraim I. London: The Soncino Press. pp. xiii–xix. ISBN 9789562913447.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l
     One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Mishna". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
  3. ^ a b Kaplan, Zvi (2007). "Zera'im". Encyclopedia Judaica (2nd ed.).
This page was last edited on 14 December 2020, at 07:52
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