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Judaism 101: Recommended Resources for Learning Emunah

There are many items every Jew should own if possible. Purchasing these can be costly. It is a good idea to procure the following items gradually as you are able. Following is a basic list of these recommended items.

Various Books Including:

A Jewish Tanach: Bibles produced by other religions are problematic for many reasons including translator biases, the inclusion of non-Jewish books (like the Christian New Testament) etc. Unless one is fluent in biblical Hebrew it is a good idea to choose a bi-lingual edition (i.e. in Hebrew and ones main language). There are several good editions. Check with your Rabbi or mentor for suggestions. We particularly like the Stone Edition (for its clarity) and the Koren Jerusalem Bible (for its superb translation).

A Jewish Chumash: A chumash is a commentary on the Five Books of Moshe, the Written Torah. Some, like the Gutnick Chumash, contain directions for proper parsha study, including the weekly Haf Tara, directions and readings for special occasions, excellent commentaries from diverse halachic sources, and other features. We recommend the Gutnick or Stone editions.

Likutey Moharan: We recommend one of the Keren Rebbe Yisroel Odesser Publication versions, available at https://breslovbooks.com/rebbe-nachman/likutey-moharan.html

Other Books: There are a great many excellent books on Judaism and its proper practice. We can not possibly list all of them here. The following are some we recommend:

The Garden of Emunah and The Garden of Gratitude by Rabbi Shalom Arush. We recommend anything by Rabbi Shlomo Arush.
Kitzur Shulchon Oruch. There are various editions; we recommend Kitzur Shulchon Oruch, two volume set by Shlomo Ganzfried with a new translation with notes and diagrams by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger.
Derech HaShem, Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (author), Aryeh Kaplan (translator/commentator), Torah Clasics Library
The Elucidated Derech HaShem Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (author), Rabbi Abba Zvi Naiman (translator/commentator), Torah Clasics Library
Schindler's List by Thomas Keneslly. Watching the film is an acceptable alternative.
This is My God by Herman Wouk
Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust: The First Original Hasidic Tales in a Century, by Yaffa Eliach.
LNever Again! By Rabbi Meir Kahane
Tzava'at Harivash: The Testament of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, translated and annotated by Jacob Immanuel Schochet.
The Sages, by Rabbi Binyamin Lau.
The Life of Reb Noson of Breslov: Through Fire and Water.
Rebbe Nachman's The Treasury of Unearned Gifts by Chaim Kramer.
A Practical Guide to the Laws of Kashrut, by Rabbi Pinchas Cohen
Wanderings: Chaim Potok's History of the Jews, "Told with a poet's grace and a storyteller's flow."
The Jewish Holiday Home Companion, by Nicholas D. Mandelkern and Vicki L. Weber in consultation with Rabbis Hyman Chanover and Morrison David Bial.
The Prophets by Abraham J. Heschel
The Best of Sholom Aleichem, Edited by Irving Howe and Ruth R. Wisse.
The Thirteen Pertalled Rose by Adin Styeinsaltz
The Complete Shabbat Table Companion, By Rabbi Zalman Goldstein
The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions, by Ronald L. Eisenberg
Great Schisms in Jewish History, edited by Raphael Jospe and Stanley M. Wagner
To Be A Jew, and To Pray As A Jew, by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin
The Tree That Stands Beyond Space: Rebbe Nachman of Breslov on the Mystical Experience, by David Sears, edited by Ozer Bergman


Required for all Jewish males or 13 (some say optional for females over 12): A set of kosher tefillin (aka phylacteries).
Required for all Jewish males or 13 (some say optional for females over 12): Kosher tallit gadol (large prayer shawl with tzitzit), tallit katan (garment with tzitzit traditionally worn either under or over one's clothing by Jewish males).
2 Shabbat candlesticks and kosher candles (usually lit by senior female).
1 Havdalah candle.
1 Kippah (aka yarmulke) of any style.
1 Chanukiah (special Pesach Menorah) and candles.

As you draw ever closer to the Beloved you will doubtless acquire many more books and other items, however these are good to begin with. Remember that any material items CAN become idols when people overly stress their importance and/or holiness. Religious items should be viewed as tools through which to connect to the Beloved and His Covenant, not as items worthy of undue honors. They are not amulets* etc. If you are not able to procure any of the items on this list remember that what HaShem mainly seeks is your heart, your consciousness. Some of the greatest tzadikim lived lives of total poverty without any material accouterments nor even a place to keep them. Remember these words of our beloved Rebbe Nachman of Breslov:

Even after all the wisdom and sophistication - even if you possess true wisdom - you must cast aside all wisdom and sophistication and serve G-d with complete innocence and simplicity, with no sophistication whatever.
The greatest wisdom of all is not to be wise at all. The truth is that no one in the world is wise, for “there is no wisdom and no understanding . before G-d” (Proverbs 21:30 ). The main thing G-d wants is the heart, the consciousness – Likutey Moharan II, 44

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