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ZERA'IM (Heb. זְרָעִים), the first of the six orders of the Mishnah, according to the traditional order as stated by R. Simeon b. *Lakish (Shab. 31a), who states that the order is called "Faith"; although from the words of R. Tanḥuma (Num. R. 13:15–16), it is possible to infer that according to another tradition, Zera'im is the second order. With the exception of the first tractate, Berakhot, all the tractates in Zera'im deal with the agricultural laws which obtain in the Land of Israel, and various suggestions have been put forward for the inclusion of Berakhot.

Zera'im contains 11 tractates in the following order: Berakhot, 9 chapters; *Pe'ah, which treats of the gifts to the poor from the produce of the land, namely, gleanings, forgotten produce, and the corner of the field, 8; *Demai, doubtfully tithed produce, 7; *Kilayim, mixed species, 9; *Shevi'it, the Sabbatical Year and the remission of debts, 10; *Terumot, 11; *Ma'aserot, 5; *Ma'aser Sheni, 5; *Ḥallah, 4; *Orlah, 3; and *Bikkurim, 3, making 74 chapters in all. This order departs from the accepted rule that the tractates are given in descending order of the number of chapters and, in fact, according to an early tradition Shevi'it and Kilayim come between Terumot and Ma'aserot. There is also evidence that Demai was placed between Kilayim and Ma'aserot. In the Tosefta to Zera'im, Berakhot has 6 (or 7) chapters; Pe'ah has 4; Demai, 8; Terumot, 10; Shevi'it, 8; Kilayim, 5; Ma'aserot, 3; Ma'aser Sheni, 5; Hallah, 2; Orlah, 1; and Bikkurim, 2. There is Jerusalem Talmud for the whole of the order Zera'im, but Babylonian Talmud only for Berakhot.


Epstein, Mishnah, 980ff., esp. 987f.; Ḥ. Albeck (ed.), Shishah Sidrei Mishnah,…Seder Zera'im (1957), 1–3.

[Zvi Kaplan]