NASHIM (Heb. נָׂשִים; "Women"), third order of the Mishnah, according to the accepted order mentioned in the homily of *Simeon b. Lakish (Shab. 31a; according to the order given by Tanḥuma (Num. R. 13:15), it is the first). Nashim deals essentially with matrimonial law and with the laws governing the relations between husband and wife. It also includes the tractates *Nedarim ("vows") and *Nazir ("the Nazirite"), respectively, since according to the Bible (Num. 30:4ff.), the vow of a wife or a girl during her minority can be annulled by the husband or father (cf. Sot. 2a). The tractates included in Nashim are *Yevamot, 16 chapters; *Ketubbot, 13; Nedarim, 11; Nazir, 9; *Sotah, 9; *Gittin, 9; and *Kiddushin, 4. As is customary, the tractates are arranged in descending order according to the number of chapters (see *Mishnah). The mishnayot of Nashim also contain incidental aggadic passages, but at the end of Sotah and Kiddushin there are more continuous aggadic passages. In the Tosefta, Yevamot has 14 chapters; Ketubbot, 12 (or 13); Nedarim, 7; Nazir, 6; Sotah, 15; Gittin, 7 (or 9); and Kiddushin, 5. The aggadic section is richer than that of the Mishnah, particularly in Sotah. Because of their practical importance for matrimonial law and sexual morality, the tractates of the order Nashim are stressed in rabbinic study, and the more practically relevant parts have received extensive treatment by both the medieval commentators and the later rabbinical authorities, including all the responsa literature.
[David Joseph Bornstein]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.