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Mesechtas in the Bavli shas start on daf bet instead of daf aleph, why is this so? As a child I was told it was to give you incentive to start ("Hey, I'm already on page 2!") but that now seems both childish and wrong; for example, why then is the same thing not done in talmud Yerushalmi?). Is there a real reason for this?

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The simple explanation is that this is how the printers typeset it (open up almost any book on your shelf and you will notice that the first page of the actual book not page one).

However, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Sichas Erev Shavuos 5745) notes that everything in the world is hashgacha protis, and if the printers decided to add a title page with the name of the tractate there must be something we can learn from it. He explains that "Daf Aleph" contains the title of the tractate, which is the life-force behind the entire mesechta.

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  • 2
    I think that leaves the fact that Yerushalmi starts on alef unexplained – user1668 Sep 10 '12 at 16:11
  • I think the emphasis is more on the printers' choice to number the title page "1", than choosing to add the title page – Menachem Sep 10 '12 at 20:59
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The Taamei HaMinhagim (729) says that it's so that if you finish all of Shas you don't brag, because you didn't even learn page 1 (like what msh210 says he was told).

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The answer I've been given, although I don't have a good citation for it is "because the Torah is daf aleph".

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  • Do you mean the written Torah? – b a Sep 11 '12 at 0:38
  • dta, welcome to the site; I hope tyou stick around and enjoy it. Thanks for this answer, which could be improved on by editing it to clarify per @ba's question in the comment just above and also to include information on the identity of the person who gave you this answer. – msh210 Sep 11 '12 at 15:09

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