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Which Talmud tractates are most useful for studying practical Halacha lemaaseh? By this I mean, halachot which are practical to practice nowadays (kashrus, Shabbos, niddah, marriage, yom tov etc)

Also, which commentaries explain the connection between the Gemara’s statements and practical Halacha?

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Many areas of halacha you ask about have one core Talmudic tractate laying out the core halachot, even if relevant sources will be found in numerous other tractates

  • Kashrut: Chulin
  • Shabbat: tractate Shabbat but also Eruvin
  • Niddah: Niddah
  • Marriage: Kiddushin but also Ketubot
  • Yom Yov: Beitzah

Now you can learn general principles of halacha from the gemara, as well as key opinions, but you won't know halacha le'maaseh until you follow the rabbinical decisors (Rosh, Rif, Rambam) up to the halachic codes (Shulchan Aruch, Mishna Brura, etc.)

Regarding your question of which commentaries explain the connection, there are different levels of answer

  • each page of gemara contains (top left or top right of the page) an index to the relevant halachot in Shulchan Aruch and Rambam called Ein Mishpat
  • some editions of the gemara (e.g., Steinsaltz) bring the practical halacha on the sides of the page together with the reference for further learning, artscroll most often does the same in footnotes
  • some halachic codes bring in the different sources in gemara for every halacha, as well as how Geonim and Rishonim ruled, so one can follow the development of halacha. The Beit Yosef is the primary example but it is dense and somewhat complex, or the Aruch Hashulchan which does this in a much more readable although somewhat more simplified

Of all the areas you cited, Yom Yov/Beitzah is the simplest/most manageable to learn in-depth, the others are either very vast or very complex.

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  • I'm surprised brachos didn't make the cut...
    – sam
    Commented May 22 at 0:53
  • I only picked up on the topics mentioned in the question. But you are right. I often saw the following tractates recommended to start learning Gemara; Brachot, Sukka, Taanit, Megila
    – mbloch
    Commented May 27 at 6:28

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