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What is the number one or the most recommended Talmud/Gemara passage for a child to begin studying?

I understand that the number one or the most recommended Torah passage for a child to begin studying is: “The Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the congregation of Yaakov.” [Deut. 33:4]

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Personally, I would close this for being opinion based, but, since I can't...

You can find different people's opinions all over the Internet (various forums that come up when you Google this question in Hebrew), however, I will try to extract the useful information (and Rabbinic opinions) from the various results...

From one Otzar Hachochma forum, a useful piece of information is Sye510's point above in the comments to Ezra's answer (which also seems to be a popular starter from my non-Chabad experience):

שמעתי פעם שהעניין שאמרו ללמוד בבא מציעא ואלו מציאות תחילה זה לחנכו בזהירות ממון מתחילתו.

More important is the quote there from Sefer Chovas Hatalmidim that children should (and/or do) begin with Perek Shenayim Ochzin, there is a copy of the page in that thread.

Also there, a suggestion from Kuntres Devar Malchus to begin with Maseches Megillah.

Another linked Otzar Hachochma discussion brings various sources in Rishonim about Perek Ein Omdin being the easiest/simplest, and features other interesting sources as well

Here, Harav Yitzchak Ben Yosef (I don't think there is any relation to Harav Yitzchak Yosef) suggests Megillah and Berachos:

ללמוד גמרא עם רש"י זה מצוין עדיף להתמקד במסכת אחת ולהמשיך עם אחרת. מסכתות בסדר מועד ,טוב להתחיל בלימוד , מסכת מגילה ברכות. אבל ללמוד מסכת אחת.

The "Tzevet" of Yeshivas Tzefas here suggests Megillah/Taanis/Chagigah for a child beginning on his own.

Rav Yosef Alnakwa (?) here suggests the first Perek of Berachos for an older beginner.

(I would also check out this link, but the video doesn't load for me.)

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I don't know what other people's experiences were, but the first Gemara I ever learned was Bava Metzia 21, "Perek Eilu Metzios". The sugya concerns lost and abandoned property in the reshus harabim. My experience is coming from a Chabad yeshiva katanah.

(Personally, I have heard of people beginning with Berachos 26, "Perek Tefilas HaShachar". This was the second Gemara I ever learned. See mbloch's comment in rabbi's answer below.)

Concerning kriyah:

In Chabad, children memorize the Twelve Pessukim, a collection of twelve passukim from the Tanach or elsewhere, as encouraged by the last Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Sorry all my experience is coming from Chabad; they were in charge of my Jewish education. :)

  • Yes, Eilu Metzios is pretty universal as a child's starter. – David Kenner Mar 13 '18 at 4:44
  • To add to @ezra's answer: I believe the reason why Bava Metzi'a is the first masechta/tractate that young boys in yeshiva is because it is important to teach the children when there still young what belongs to them/ what they can take and what must be given back which will hopefully make an impression for the rest of their lives. – Sye510 Mar 13 '18 at 4:56
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    @Sye510 There are quite many more practical sugyot out there (see Berakhot). I suppose that part contains many important theoretical concepts that are relevant for later studies, and that is why most people choose that one (instead of Berakhot). – Kazi bácsi Mar 13 '18 at 9:11
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    @ezra I might not have been clear. Instead of Berakhot (which is the beginning of Mishna and Gemara), roughly 90% percent of the people I know started with Bava Metzia, and particularly Eilu Metziot, since it contains these important concepts which are not really present in Berakhot. (If that matters, I started with Berakhot, and it's obviously practical for everyday life, and less difficult to understand.) – Kazi bácsi Mar 13 '18 at 14:54
  • @Sye510 see the answer which I will IYH post in a little while – רבות מחשבות Mar 22 '18 at 5:19
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In L'maan Yeid'u... Bonim Yivaleidu Mordechai Shusterman writes (p. 289) that the melamed of the Tzemach Tzedek's children asked the Tzemech Tzedek what masechta he should start learning with the children. The Tzemach Tzedek replied that the Ba'al Shem Tov had begun learning Shas to bring up the Torah that Jews had learned but had not been brought up. However, he only got up to page 17 in Eruvin when he died, so the Tzemach Tzedek told the melamed to start from Eruvin page 17.

ר' הלל סיפר שהוא היה פעם המלמד של בני הצמח צדק בשנות ילדותם ופעם שאל את הצמח צדק איזו מסכת יתחיל ללמוד עמם ויען אדמו"ר הצמח צדק הבעש"ט התחיל ללמוד ש"ס כדי להעלות את כל התורה של כל ישראל שלמדו ולא עלתה למעלה (כידוע מפרק ל"ו בתניא) והתחיל ללמוד מסכת ברכות שבת ועירובין עד דף י"ז ואחר כך נסתלק על כן תתחיל מדף י"ז

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If the whole of klal yisroel starts with eilu metzios [which they do] that's the biggest and best source of its credibility

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    This answer would be significantly improved if you can provide a source for your assertion the "the whole of klal yisroel starts with eil [sic] metzios". – Joel K Mar 15 '18 at 10:03
  • FTR, my (fairly traditional) elementary school did not start teaching gemara with Eilu Metziot. – Joel K Mar 15 '18 at 10:04
  • Neither did mine... – sam Mar 15 '18 at 13:37
  • find a single orthodox charedi school [folowing a tradition that was trasmitted from the rabbis] that doesn't. [I don't know what faily traditional means doesnt sound too orthodox to me]. a school that is not following mesorah will have results very different from the ones intended. btw: the passage mentioned in the question is what is taught when he first starts speaking an not what he is first taught when he reaches the gemarah level – rabbi Mar 15 '18 at 14:17
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    see here words from rebbi moshe feinstein otzar.org/wotzar/… – rabbi Mar 15 '18 at 14:26

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