From Academic Kids

Zeraim (זרעים) is the first Order of the Mishnah (and Tosefta and Talmud). Of the six orders of the Mishnah, Zeraim is the shortest. The order Zeraim ("Seeds") deals mainly with the agricultural laws of the land of Israel. It consists of 11 tractates:

  1. Berakhot: ("Blessings" ברכות) deals with the rules of blessings and the daily prayer, especially the Shema. 9 chapters. See wikibooks:Mishnah Tractate Berakhot
  2. Pe'ah: ("Corner" פאה) deals with the regulations concerning the corners of the field (Lev. xix. 9, 10; xxiii. 22; Deut. xxiv. 19-22), and with the rights of the poor in general. 8 chapters.
  3. Demai: ("Doubtful" דמאי) deals chiefly with various cases in which it is not certain whether the offering of the fruit has been given to the priests. 7 chapters.
  4. Kilayim: ("Of Two Sorts"; "Heterogeneous" כלאים) deals chiefly with rules regarding forbidden mixtures in agriculture, clothing and breeding(Lev. xix. 19; Deut. xxii. 9-11). 9 chapters.
  5. Shevi'it: ("Sabbatical Year" שביעית) deals with the regulations concerning the seventh year (Ex. xxiii. 11; Lev. xxv. 1-8; Deut. xv. 1 et seq.). 10 chapters.
  6. Terumot: ("Offerings" תרומות) deals with the laws regarding the offering to be given to the Kohen, the Jewish priest (Num. xviii. 8 et seq.; Deut. xviii. 4). 11 chapters.
  7. Ma'aserot: or Ma'aser Rishon ("Tithes" or "First Tithes" מעשרות, מעשר ראשון) deals with the prescription regarding the tithe to be given to the Levites (Num. xviii. 21-24). 5 chapters
  8. Ma'aser Sheni: ("Second Tithe" מעשר שני) deals with the rules concerning the tithe or its equivalent which was to be eaten at Jerusalem (Deut. xiv. 22-26). 5 chapters
  9. Hallah: ("Cake" חלה) deals with the laws regarding the heave-offering of dough to be given to the Kohanim (Num. xv. 18-21). 4 chapters
  10. Orlah: ("Foreskin" of the Trees ערלה) deals chiefly with the prohibition of the immediate use of a tree after it has been planted (Lev. xix. 23-25). 3 chapters.
  11. Bikkurim: ("First-Fruits" ביכורים) deals with the first-fruit gifts to the Kohanim and Temple (Ex. xxiii:19; Deut. xxvi:1). 3(4) chapters.

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 to the eleventh treatise, which does not belong to the Mishnah, has been added (comp. the gloss in the Vilna edition of the Talmud, p. 87b). The sequence of the treatises of this first order in both the Talmudim corresponds with that of Maimonides.

The traditional reasoning for the order is as follows. The first tractate on blessings seems not to belong to a section on agriculture, however, it follows the Jewish law of saying a blessing before enjoying food or other produce and similarly, before studying the laws pertaining to sustenance, it is appropriate to learn the laws of blessings.

In the Babylonian Talmud, the only Gemara is to the first tractate, Berakhot. This is because the agricultural laws, only applicable within Israel, were not as relevant to the academies in Babylonia. In the Jerusalem Talmud, however, there is Gemara on each of the tractates as many of the laws were still relevant in the time of the Rabbis of the Jerusalem Talmud.

See also: Mishnah

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