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Are there sources that we ever had such a tractate in either JT or BT? Were there debates and discussions over its propositions?

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According to the Mevo to Oz VeHadar's Maseches Avos Otzar Midrashei Chazal, p. 5, since Avos wasn't written on any specific mitzvah, Chazal never had their usual debates or discussions which are found in the gemarra. Therefore, there was never a tractate put together for the Bavli, Yerushalmi, nor baraisos in the Tosefta. The only baraisa is perhaps Avos D'Rabbi Nosson.

They cite the Meiri, who explicitly writes this:

ולא באה ממסכתא זאת גמרא, ולא חיבר רבינא ורב אשי בתלמוד בבלי ולא חיבר רבי יוחנן בתלמוד ירושלמי, ולא חיבר רבי חייא ורבי הושיעא ובר קפרא וברייתא ותוספתא, אלא שבאה עליה ברייתא גדולה לרבי נתן קרואה אבות דרבי נתן

Although, he doesn't say the reason is because it wasn't written about a specific mitzvah. I suppose that's their suggestion.

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  • Thank you, you're right about Meiri, he doesn't mention the reason as it seems totally wrong factually - there are several Mitzvos about Middos, like loving thy neighbor and preventing hatred and Pikuach Nefesh – Al Berko Nov 25 '20 at 16:34
  • Where do you see maseches Avos is about middos? Chazal say it's about chassidus. What mitzvah is that? – robev Nov 25 '20 at 16:36
  • Every statement in Avos can be easily presented as a Rabbinic decree - "הוו מתונים בדין, והעמידו תלמידים הרבה, ועשו סייג לתורה." Here, three Rabbinic decrees, AKA Mitzvos). BTW, whole Masechtos are around Rabbinic decrees, like Meggilah or Eiruvin. – Al Berko Nov 25 '20 at 16:40
  • In Talmudic parley (Rambam included), Mitzvah is anything worth acting like. E.g. פעמים ביום קורין קרישמ"ע... מצוה להזכיר יצא"מ בלילה. – Al Berko Nov 25 '20 at 16:43
  • As I mentioned, Avos is chassidus, which by definition isn't obligatory, unlike Rabbinic decrees. As well, your example isn't "something worth acting" as some say it's obligatory to mention yetzias mitzrayim at night...also I don't think any masechta was solely written on something "worth acting" – robev Nov 25 '20 at 18:07

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