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NEZIKIN (Heb. נְזִיקִין; "torts"), fourth order of the Mishnah according to the order given by Simeon b. Lakish (Shab. 31a), although according to another tradition (Tanḥuma in Num. R. 13:15), it is the sixth. Originally Nezikin was the name of the first tractate only (see below). Because of Simeon b. Lakish's homily applying to it the word yeshu'ot ("salvation") in Isaiah 33:6, it is so called in many rabbinic sources, including the Tosefta. Nezikin is devoted to civil law (except for matrimonial law, dealt with in the order *Nashim), and the administration of justice and legal procedure, as well as penal law insofar as the subject does not appertain to some other part of the Mishnah. The tractate *Eduyyot was included in Nezikin because it contains "testimonies" most of which were given before the Sanhedrin of *Jabneh after the destruction of the Temple, and is consequently connected with the tractate *Sanhedrin. *Avodah Zarah was placed in Nezikin because it deals with the halakhot of idolatry, some of which are given in Sanhedrin-Makkot, and also because it opens with prohibitions against trade with idolators, thus connecting it with the tractate Nezikin (*Bava Kamma, *Bava Meẓia, and *Bava Batra), which gives the laws of trade in general. The inclusion of the aggadic tractate Avot, which deals with moral maxims, is due to the fact that it contains an exceptional number of instructions to *dayyanim, dealt with in Sanhedrin.

Nezikin contains ten tractates, although at first there were only seven, the first three originally forming one tractate now divided into Bava Kamma, Bava Meẓia, and Bava Batra (see Av. Zar. in Mishnah Kaufmann and Cambridge, etc.). The name of the first tractate was then applied to the whole order. Sanhedrin and *Makkot were also originally one tractate (and are so in the Kaufmann and Parma Mishnah, in genizah fragments, and elsewhere), which contained 14 chapters; they were divided into two tractates, also apparently in Babylon, for reasons that are not yet sufficiently clear. Thus in the order Nezikin, too, the tractates were originally arranged according to the number of chapters in descending order. Nezikin has the following separate tractates: Bava Kamma, with 10 chapters; Bava Meẓia, 10; Bava Batra, 10; Sanhedrin, 11; Makkot, 3; *Shevu'ot, 8; Eduyyot, 8; Avodah Zarah, 5; Avot, 5; and *Horayot, 3.

In the Tosefta of Nezikin each of the three Bavot has 11 chapters; Sanhedrin, 14; Makkot, 4 (or 5); Shevu'ot, 6; Eduyyot, 3; Avodah Zarah, 9 (or 8); and Horayot, 2 chapters; there is no Tosefta to Avot. Eduyyot and Avot have no Gemara in either the Jerusalem or the Babylonian Talmud. The importance of nearly all the tractates in the sphere of practical halakhah led to an abundant development of these spheres in rabbinic literature. Especially comprehensive is the literature on the first three tractates and on Shevu'ot, about which innumerable studies and commentaries have been written, which have material discussed in the responsa of all periods, and which (together with *Ketubbot in the order Nashim) encompass the whole of Jewish civil law.

English translations of the Mishnah: Danby (1933); Neusner (1988); English translation of the Tosefta: Neusner (2002); English translations of the TJ: Neusner (1984); English translations of the TB: Soncino (1935); Neusner (1984, 1990, 1992); a students' edition of part of TB Bava Meẓia, vocalized, with translation, commentary, and notes in English, appeared as part of the Talmud El-Am.


A. Geiger, Ha-Mikra ve-Targumav (1949), 124–26; S. Lieberman, in Tarbiz, 2 (1931), Suppl. 4; idem, Tosefta: Seder Nezikin (1988); idem, Tosefta ki-Feshutah, parts 9–10 (1988); Ch. Albeck, Shishah Sidrei Mishnah, 4 (1959), 57–63, 111–16, 163–68, 211–18, 461–67; L. Jacobs, Studies in Talmudic Logic and Methodology (1961), 132–35; Epstein, Tanna'im, 417–21; Epstein, Amoraim, 187–270, 279–87, 417; A. Weiss, Diyyunim u-Verurim be-Vava Kamma (1966), 10–16; Yerushalmi Nezikin, ed. E.S. Rosenthal (1983); Y. Sussmann, in: Meḥkerei Talmud, vol. 1 (1990), 55–133; Talmud Yerushalmi, with an introduction by Y. Sussmann (2001); S. Friedman, Talmud Arukh: BT Bava Mezi'a VI, 2 vols. (1990, 1996); C. Hezser, Form, Function, and Historical Significance of the Rabbinic Story in Yerushalmi Nezikin (1993), 362–77; D. Halivni, Mekorot u-Mesorot: Bava Kamma (1993); idem, Mekorot u-Mesorot: Bava Meẓia (2003); Synopse zum Talmud Yerushalmi, vol. 4, ed. P. Schäfer and H.J. Becker (1995); Mordekhai Sabato, Ketav-Yad Temani le-Massekhet Sanhedrin (Bavli) u-Mekomo bi-Masoret ha-Nusaḥ (1998).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.