19 comments on “What Seforim Would You Recommend?

  1. Rav Wolbe zl says that one of the studies that comprises the “tzuras hayehudi” is learning Rabbeinu Yonah on Pirkei Avos. Since it came out in English, I have really enjoyed it. Learning it along with the original Hebrew keeps you engrossed and busy in it!

    Wonderful yesodos there to be found! Just take a look how he explains in ain ani mi li…or lo alecho ha’melacho ligmor.. or what he says about taking loans. Enjoy!

  2. I have to second whomever it was that suggested Reb Shlomo. This book changed the way bios are written- short, powerful, and so, so honest and normal. No fear of mentioning Bob Dylan or Jimi Hendrix, so warm and wise

  3. I like Shunamit’s comment above.

    I would suggest that there is much worthwhile in a little reading that isn’t in learning.

    Any of Rav Haim Sabato’s somewhat autobiographical novels. Several are translated into English (Adjusting Sights and The Dawning of the Day come to mind). In Ivrit he is a true pleasure to read. His language is the same sort of reading enjoyment as Agnon. His book on Parshiot Hashavua I understand is very good.

    An Unlikely Heroine, the biography of Esther Cailingold. She was a girl from an observant home in London who went to take part in the Israel War of Independence. She died defending the Old City. Some moments in that book give one chills and inspire.

    Holy Brother, about Rav Shlomo Carlebach. Worth it just for the narrative about the time he went to make a shabbaton in Los Angeles. My wife and I are convinced that we are somewhat kinder and more charitable having read this book.

    Tzadik In Our Time, the story of Rav Aryeh Levine. Truly the story of a tzadik esteemed by EVERYONE in Jerusalem of his time.

    The Siege, by Conor Cruise O’Brien. Out of print, I think. The best book I’ve read (out of many!) on the Israeli-Arab conflict.

    Et Echai Anochi M’vakesh by Hanan Porat. In Ivrit. Beautifully written. Deep, sensitive thoughts of a man who loves Torah and is concerned about the pursuit of Jewish society in Israel.

    Maalot M’maamakim by Rav Yehuda Amital. In Ivrit. Philosophical/Theological insights by a rosh yeshiva whose experiences span the Nazi labor camps, the Israel War of Independence, founding and leading with Rav Aharon Lichtenstien one of the most influential yeshivot in Israel.

    The Lord is Righteous in All His Ways. Rav Soloveitchik on 9 Av and kinot.

    By His Light and Leaves of Faith. Essays by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Rav Soloveitchik’s student/son in law and Rosh Yeshivat Har Etzion.

    Shunamit, try and get a copy of Rav Filber’s introduction to Orot HaT’shuvah.

  4. Have you finished Shas yet? If not the Talmud at least mishnayos? While you’re free from school (and yeshiva schedules) it’s a great time to make great strides in something fundamental like this. Learn it methodically–simply, straight-forward, and from beginning to end.

  5. Rav Kook’s “Orot ha-Tshuvah” is tough going, but a big payoff. Hebraicists will be delighted to note that the English translation, although good, is no help at all in understanding the ideas, but the Hebrew language provides a peirush of sorts if you read it over enough.

    And “Alei Shur” (esp. volume 2),who teaches us that questioning our assumptions need not be an act of destruction.

  6. I’d second the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh writings of R Itamar Schwartz. True “must reads”. MP3s based on the seform are also out there, if you are looking for summer “listening”.

  7. The Nineteen Letters- R Shimon Rephael Hirsch (the older Feldheim version is easier to digest than the newer one)

    Reb Shlomo – The life and legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld -written by R Yisroel Besser (Judaica Press). This book might be THE summer sefer of all time. Not only are the biographical stories about R Freifeld fairly short, but you will quickly learn the true importance of treating each person with the respect they deserve, and see why it’s vital that when dealing with students, friends, and most importantly family memebers, we must always try to get others to reach their own greatness. While I never learned in his yeshiva (Shor Yashuv in Far Rockaway,NY), this book is amazing, regardless of your background.

    And no, I don’t work for Judaica Press.

  8. For those who can read Hebrew, Tanna DeBei Eliyahu is an important sefer that is quoted by the Talmud, yet few people study it.

    There is at least one menukad edition [with Hebrew vowels].

  9. How can we say what someone else’s “must read” is?

    Anyway, generically, I’d suggest reading up on the Churban Bayis Sheini (destruction of the Second Temple) and its personalities and root causes. We still have a chance to root out the modern versions of these root causes.

  10. Mazal Tov Marty – it was nice seeing you this morning.

    Rabbi Winter is a fantastic person and teacher. If you live in or around Kew Gardens Hills and want to start your day off with some great Gemora learning, head over to Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim every weekday at 6:00 AM. They have plenty of great coffee and a great Chevra of close to 20 guys learning.

  11. My Kollel Boker is starting Kesubos next Monday….so I need to get the Artscroll English/Hebrew edition of #1! We are just finishing the WHOLE TRACTATE of Bava Metzia, after almost 2 1/2 years!


  12. If you can read Hebrew, I’d get started, lulei demistafina, on the first volume of Sifsei Chaim (Mo’adim Aleph) by Rav Chaim Friedlander, zt”l, the late mashgiach of the Ponevizher yeshiva.

    Rav Friedlander discusses teshuvah in a way that exposes a deep understanding of psychology and compassion for human folly.

    His words were (still are) critical to my development as a Jew.

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