Monday, February 2, 2009

CAT (Common Ambiguous Term) - SHAS

Shas is not just an Israeli political party, it is also an acronym for Shishah Sidrei Mishnah - all the six orders of the Mishnah. In the yeshivish vernacular shas generally refers to the entire Gemara (Talmud Bavli). Recently a couple of bar mitzvah boys in my neighborhood finished learning the entire Mishnah for their bar mitzvah and this learning was called, “Shas Mishnah.” (As an aside - it is quite an impressive accomplishment both for the parents and the child.)

The six orders of the Mishnah are:

·         Zeraim - Laws of Agriculture

·         Moed - Laws of Shabbat and the Chagim

·         Nashim - Laws of Marriage and Divorce

·         Nezikin - Laws of Damages and Civil Laws

·         Kodshim - Laws of Korbanot and the Beit HaMikdash

·         Taharot - Laws of Ritual Purity

The mnemonic to remember them is: זמן נקט (Zeman Nekat)

One of the reasons I wanted to explain this CAT, is that a lot of machshavah can be learned from how Chazal organized the halakhot and mitzvot in shas. (See Pri Taddik on Chanukkah for an example of this type of machshavah.)

I just started a new chavrutah and we are learning the Tzidkut HaTzaddik by R. Tzaddok HaKohen. R. Tzaddok opens with an analysis of why does shas begin with Massechet Berachot. Unfortunately, I cannot summarize his ideas now and I am forced to leave you in agonizing suspense. I promise not to abandon my faithful readers for long. (I believe I may actually have four readers! I am working hard not to get too big headed.) 

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