Getting Started with Talmud
If you are new to Talmud, you might be wondering where to start. After all, there are 63 masechtot (Tractates) across the six sedarim (Orders) of the Talmud, though the more-commonly studied Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) has Gemaras (works of Talmudic analysis) on only 37 of the tractates. The six Orders deal with laws of agriculture, Shabbat and holidays, marriage, civil law, sacrifices, and ritual purity.
You might want to consider starting with some of the more commonly learned masechtot. Berachot, Megillah, Ta’anit, Rosh Hashana, and Sukka have practical Halachic relevance to our daily lives. If you prefer legal discussions, Sanhedrin (Chapters 3, 8, and 10), Makkot, and Bava Metzia (Chapters 2, 3 and 6) make good starting points. Of course, in the Talmud, discussions can wander pretty far from their original topic, so whatever masechet you choose to start with will include lots of fascinating information that’s tangential to the subject at hand. It’s all part of the journey!
Also keep in mind that, no matter on which daf you start learning Talmud, you are entering mid-conversation. The gemara is not organized in a linear manner and personalities are not introduced. So, jump right in! Start learning anywhere you choose and soon you’ll be immersed in the conversation. You’ll begin to recognize names of the sages, commonly used terms, and the unique Talmudic style of logic. See below for a number of suggested starting points or go to Talmud by the Daf and choose your own.
The Time to Start Studying Talmud Is – Now!
You will quickly discover that studying Talmud will challenge your mind, connect you to Jewish history, inspire you to think critically, immerse you in a community of learners, and enrich your life. There’s no “better” or “worse” time to start studying Talmud. Start with what you have time for, at whatever level is comfortable for you, and grow from there!
Selected Shiurim to Start
We recommend getting started with these pages of Talmud