The Order of Nashim
(Note: For Tuesday of Beshalach, check out my old parshablog posts on the practice of reciting parashat Ha-mann.)
This past week’s column took on the first question in Nazir, about what Nazir was doing in Seder Nashim.
I won’t repeat everything that I wrote there. But essentially:
I first argue that the grouping principle of what we call Nashim is really Acquisitions and Acceptances, means of creating binding legal reality through the written and spoken word. The individual title of a masechta doesn’t always fully cover the breadth of topics in that masechta, so e.g. Kiddushin covers all means of acquisition. Thus, Nedarim makes perfect sense in this Order / Seder. That several of the titles reference some relationship between men and women doesn’t prove that this is the “Women” order. Based on that, the Talmudic Narrator’s purported question makes me a tad unhappy.
The parallel question in Sotah is about sequencing, not whether something belongs in that Order.
Examining some prominent meforshim, it is clear that they didn’t have the introduction about what Nazir is doing in Seder Nashim at all. Because their dibbur hamatchil doesn’t include that in the quote, and their explanation of the quote is that very thing, what Nazir is doing in Seder Nashim. Rather, it was bare — where is the Tanna coming from?
Meiri discusses a variant, where the question is really about the sequencing of Nazir and Sotah. But he notes that question supposes a reverse order than that formulation in Sotah.
From the opening of the answer to the question, beginning with divorce, it seems the Talmudic Narrator here is assuming that the preceding tractate was Gittin.
The sequence of tractates in each Order is mostly based on descending number of perakim. But Gittin, Nazir, and Sotah are all nine perakim. Those Nines could be in any sequence.
Indeed, there are alternative sequences in Nashim, such as mentioned by the Rambam, in Mishnayot of Ktav Yad Kaufmann, in Yerushalmi, and in Leiden have it in a different order.
Here are some of the pictures from Leiden, in which we have Yevamot → Sotah → Ketubot → Nedarim → Gittin → Nazir.