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When I have taught Talmud classes to some beginners, I try to give them an overview of the tractate prior to starting it. Usually, I locate the relevant laws / verses in the Torah. I think it's tough to delve into Masechet Sotah if someone has no clue as to what a Sotah is. (I'm not saying it can't be done; it's just a bit more difficult, I believe.)

Are there any "prerequisite" tractates- I.e. does it help to learn some other tractate first? E.g., does it help to learn Nedarim prior to learning Nazir / Arla before shevi'it, Shabbat before Eiruvin etc.?

Note that I am interested in even those tractates that have no Gemara. Although, if there is a difference with 2 tractates in terms of whether you study just mishnah vs. its gemarah, please indicate that.

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    Latest editions of Gemmoros like Mesivta and Schottenstein and Koren (Steinsaltz) have an extencive introduction to every Masechtah. – Al Berko May 14 at 18:12
  • @AlBerko Thanks. They all have various merits / demerits. I am a big fan of Steinsaltz translations in general. – DanF May 14 at 18:14
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    I think, informationally, there's no such thing, as the Gemmorah is so בלולה or מבולבלת (hence Bavli) that there's no particular order or requisites. I would, however, start not with information - learning texts, but methods, studying the ways of reasoning, arguing, presenting, etc. Not focusing on the Halachah but on How this works. – Al Berko May 14 at 18:18
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    You're supposed to know all of Tanach and Mishnayos before you start Gemara, though not many people do that anymore. – Heshy May 14 at 19:56
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    @DonielF You mean SHEvuos. Then again, your comment sounds so Yeshivish, perhaps you mean that you learn on the holiday of Shavu'ot before you get a good bargain. Can you explain the relationship of these two and why you think it helps to learn one before the other? – DanF May 15 at 21:35
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The answer is, IMO, yes and no.

No. With a sufficient introduction, every section of the Talmud (say, Mishna or even "long Sugya") can be taught and studied on its own.

Yes. To fully understand any section of the Talmud it helps to have studied the entire Talmud. And Chumash and Mishna and Tosefta.

That's a catch-22 situation and is the explanation of how even the greatest of Talmidei Chachamim manage to review the Talmud continuously; every cycle brings more clarity since they now know the "other stuff" so much better. It's a never-ending cycle.

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    And Nach [15 15] – Heshy May 15 at 11:50
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    @Heshy - I'm not convinced that a total mastery of Nach is required to understand the Talmud... Though a mastery of Talmud is required to properly understand Nach. – Danny Schoemann May 15 at 16:13
  • @Danny I also don't see how mastery of all of Tanakh is necessary. Parts of all 24 books aren't referenced in the whole Talmud. Why indeed did you list Chumash as necessary? – Double AA May 15 at 20:16
  • @DoubleAA - I think that comes from my weltanschauung that the תורה שבעל פה is a commentary/elucidation of the בכתב. Seems silly to skip step #1 and expect to master step #2 - though I'll admit that - for example - most of ספר בראשית is irrelevant to understanding the Talmud. – Danny Schoemann May 16 at 7:38
  • Moreover I'd wager plenty of books of Nakh are quoted much more than Bereishit. Sure you can gloss over them usually as Aggadata without appreciating the Diyuk in context, but is that what Chazal intended? Seems the Talmud is supposed to function as commentary there too. Learning Yeshayahu and recognizing a Pasuk from an Agadata in Bava Kama is backwards. – Double AA May 16 at 11:15
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There are no "prerequisite" tractates, but there is a reason why yeshivos start their beginner grades with certain perakim that have easier basic concepts and introduce talmudic reasoning, such as the first two perakim in Bava Metziah, i.e., Shnaim Ochsim and Eilu Metzios, or Pesachim first perek, i.e., Or l'Arba Asar.

Also, for all levels of learners, it is always easier to master a perek of Gemara if you learn the mishnayos of that perek first, as the gemora often jumps ahead assuming that you have learned the relevant mishnayos.

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