• Issue: September 2006
  • Designer: Dana Zada
  • Stamp Size: 30.8 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 653 (1 phosphor bar) 654 (2 phosphor bars)
    655 (2 phosphor bars)
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: offset

Nezikin, Kodashim, Tohorot

The word "Mishnah" is derived from the root shin­nun-heh, which means "study". The word mishnah has two meanings in the Rabbinic literature: one, as a manner of deducing everything that is taught orally, complementing the Written Law; and the other, a book, that is second only to the written Torah. The six Orders of the Mishnah are the laws of the Oral Law that were collected by subject and redacted in the Land of Israel in the third century CE by R. Judah ha-Nasi (the Patriarch).

The need to expound the halakhot by subject arose in the late Second Temple period. The number of laws that were not directly connected to the verses of the Torah increased, and they could not be deduced by the conventional method of textual exegesis. The Rabbis who lived during the time from the Second Temple period until the time of R. Judah ha-Nasi and who employed this methodology were called "Tannaim (the Aramaic tang — the Hebrew shin-nun-heh - study). As time passed, the first collections of mishnayot, known as "early mishnayot," were formulated and redacted; these would form the basis for the Mishnah of R. Judah ha-Nasi.

The Mishnah is divided into six Orders, each of which relates to a different halakhic realm:

The Order of Zeraim ("Seeds") is concerned with the commandments observed only in the Land of Israel and with everyday ritual commandments.

The Order of Moed ("Appointed Time") contains Sabbath and holiday laws.

The Order of Nashim ("Women") relates to the relations between a man and his wife, from the creation of the relationship to the sundering of the marriage.

The Order of Nezikin ("Damages") includes the laws governing interpersonal relations, property laws, and judicial procedure.

The Order of Kodashim ("Sacred Things") relates to the Temple service and the laws of sacrifices.

The Order of Tohorot ("Pure Things") contains the laws of-ritual purity.

Each Order is divided into tractates, each tractate into chapters, and each chapters, into mishnayot. The most complete manuscripts of the Mishnah are MS. Kaufmann, from the eleventh or twelfth centuries, and MS. Parma, from the eleventh century. The Mishnah was first printed in Naples in 1492. The first commentaries on the Mishnah were written during the Geonic period (600-1040 CE). The best-known among the medieval commentaries are those by Rashi, Maimonides, and R. Obadiah of Bertinoro.

Dr. Dov Herman
Jewish Studies Faculty Bar-Ilan University

top top

The Six Orders of the Mishnah (II)