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There is a cycle of tractates in the Talmud that are learned in Yeshiva each year. This is an exclusive list, where only a small number of volumes are covered in the curriculum.

There must be some reason for the choices on the list, and why other mesechtos were excluded. So: Why were those specific tractates chosen? What are the characteristics that make them fit for this list?

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    follow up question.. why with the invention of lifetime kollel was the curriculum not expanded? – avi Nov 7 '11 at 9:09
  • @Avi feel free to ask that as a separate question. But in many Kollels I know, this doesn't apply – yydl Nov 7 '11 at 15:52
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    @avi, For the lifetime kollels, even the non-lifetime kollels, the curriculum was expanded. For any masechta you wish to learn, there is a kollel doing it, even if you might be hard-pressed to find a yeshiva that is. – jake Nov 7 '11 at 23:44
  • @avi I think "lifetime kolels" have been around for 1000's of years. – Hacham Gabriel Aug 23 '12 at 21:45
  • @HachamGabriel you would be most certainly wrong though. It's a new invention made possible by modern economics and governments. – avi Aug 25 '12 at 17:48
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One of my rabbeim, who was a student of R' Elya Svei explained this to me as follows:

The yeshiva curriculum includes masechtos from nashim and nezikin, such as Yevamos, Kesuvos, Gittin, Kiddushin, Bava Kama, Bava Metzia, Bava Basra etc. for two main reasons:

  • There are classic commentaries on Talmud Bavli, and these masechtos include more of the commentaries that are beneficial in developing a learning methodology than all the other masechtos.
  • These masechtos include many sugyos that are central to the rest of shas and involve a lot of cross referencing and ideas that come up in many other masechtos.

Since the studies in yeshivos are intended to influence the way a person learns for the remainder of his life, these considerations are important in choosing the yeshiva curriculum.

  • Especially Masechet Ketubot, which is sometimes referred to as "Shas Katan," IIRC. – Adam Mosheh Aug 12 '12 at 21:19
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    Regarding your first bullet point, I always thought the causality was the other way around: there are more sefarim on these mesechtos because they are studied by more people – Yitzchak Feb 27 '13 at 12:58
  • @Yitzchak, Interesting point. I can't think of why the "yeshivish" masechtos would be more popular in the times of the rishonim such that e.g. Rabbeinu Yonah would write his commentary on only such masechtos. In my mind, it's caused more by the second bullet point. In other words, since these masechtos have central sugyas and important concepts, more commentaries were decided to be written on them in favor of the others. Then that gained them more popularity in the later yeshiva world. – jake Feb 27 '13 at 18:03
  • @Jake You answered your own question. They were more popular because they contained central sugyos, specifically central sugyos related to practical halacha – Yitzchak Mar 1 '13 at 14:27
  • @Yitzchak, That's a possibility, although not what I meant. I didn't mean that those masechtos were necessarily more popular, just that given the chance to write a commentary on a masechta, Rishon X would choose e.g. Bava Basra rather than e.g. Shabbos, since it would be more beneficial in explaining his views on a wider range of applicable sugyos. Perhaps this phenomenon caused the later popularity of these masechtos. – jake Mar 1 '13 at 16:03

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