I am not knowledgeable about masechtot ketanot. Wikipedia writes they are essays from the Tannaitic period or later dealing with topics about which no formal tractate exists in the Mishnah. I understand from this question they have been translated in English but not in recent times.

I'd like to better understand the centrality and relevance of these masechtot. Does the gemara make reference to them? Do later halachic codes rely on them? Would some of these tractates be considered important required reading for an educated Jew?

  • 1
  • If they are indeed Braisos, gra says you need to learn them. And Rav Kanievsky wrote some hefty comentaries on them.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Jul 26 '19 at 5:56
  • A number of common practices are sourced in masechet sofrim. Eg reciting hanerot halalu in conjunction with kindling Chanukah lights
    – Joel K
    Jul 26 '19 at 6:00
  • I've seen various gemaras quote baraisos from the masechtos ketanos. Namely semachos and kallah. Just do a search on mesoras hashas
    – robev
    Jul 26 '19 at 12:53
  • What is that? Sounds cool @robev
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Jul 26 '19 at 12:55
  1. “Does the gemara make reference to them?” Yes, to some.
  2. “Do later halachic codes rely on them?” Yes, on some.
  3. “Would some of these tractates be considered important required reading for an educated Jew?” In my opinion, yes. One obvious reason, see 1 & 2.

For more information on the above questions see the prologues of the following critical editions:

  • Soferim
  • Sefer Torah, Mezuzah, Tefillin, Zizit, Abadim, Kutim & Gerim
  • Masechtos Ze’iros, ed. Higger, N.Y. 1929 (cf. DE, below)
  • Masechtos Derech Eretz, ed. Higger, N.Y. 1935
  • Kallah, ed. Higger, N.Y. 1936
  • Semachot (some opine that Semachot and Evel [Rabbasi] are the same), ed. Higger, N.Y. 1931 (republished Jer. 1970); The Tractate Mourning, ed. Dov Zlotnick, Yale University Press 1966
  • 1 and 2 can be easily sourced.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Jul 26 '19 at 16:06
  • @Dr.Shmuel Indeed they could and hence I didn’t bother. Besides, Higger already did it. Any interested reader can use the listed resources.
    – Oliver
    Jul 26 '19 at 16:11
  • That perhaps undermines the usage model on this forum
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Jul 28 '19 at 3:05
  • @Dr.Shmuel Not sure I follow. Are you suggesting that I should have included sources/examples for 1 & 2?
    – Oliver
    Jul 28 '19 at 3:32
  • Yes, essentially, otherwise, coupled with even the rest of your answer, this may just be a comment and not properly answering the question.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Jul 28 '19 at 3:39

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