This suggested reading list has evolved in response to the demand from young women and men leaving seminary and yeshiva for a guide to how to continue their Jewish reading and learning once they leave the ‘bubble’ of Yeshiva/Seminary life.
There are thousands of wonderful sefarim on the market and my list is not intended to be comprehensive or definitive. It also unavoidably reflects my own particular tastes. These are the books that have had and continue to have a significant impact on me, and which I feel could be useful for a broad range of students. The list is aimed at an intelligent (although not necessarily ‘intellectual’ ) student who is interested in seeing a range of perspectives and approaches. Inevitably, given the broad range of halachic and hashkafic approaches within the contemporary orthodox world, not every book will appeal to every reader. Some will be too ‘academic’ for some people and some will be too ‘frummy’ for others. Individuals can, and should, seek the advice of their own religious mentors as to what material will best suit them personally. I also recommend that you do your own on-line research about the authors I have listed. Many of them have written and audio shiurim on line and you can get your own feel for their style and substance.
There are around 180 books on the list. Don’t be overwhelmed!! You don’t have to read them all! I have divided the list into 30 categories. Look into the areas you’re most interested in and try some out.
This list is limited to books, rather than digital and on-line resources. Many students today are more likely to look on-line before opening a sefer. For a detailed list of on-line sites and resources click here – I hope to keep this updated fairly regularly.
I have purposely limited the recommendations to secondary sources, mostly in English. I have also included a few Hebrew sefarim which should be accessible (at least to some degree) by many yeshiva/seminary leavers. I have not listed the great sets of high quality sefarim being published by Koren/Maggid such as those by Rabbi Sacks, on the thought of Rav Soloveitchik, the new works on Tanach and Halacha and many more. I am assuming that most of the people reading this list are familiar with them and you can find details on their website.
Students MUST also look to the primary sources – Tanach, Gemara, Midrash, Rishonim, Acharonim and their respective commentaries – where they are able. I have not included these classics (such as the Sefer HaChinuch or the Kuzari etc) in my list but HUNDREDS of these primary sources are now available in English translation and I strongly advise that you read them.
I have chosen only a few books under each heading. There are thousands more. If there is an area or issue that specifically interests you, please feel free to be in touch with me and I will try to make other suggestions. Most of the books on this list are available from good Jewish book stores or from online stores – both Jewish (eg. Artscroll, Feldheim, Koren etc.) and Amazon. If you click the link on the title it will take you to Amazon.com and I will receive a small commission 😉
As for recommended bookstores – in Jerusalem, Manny’s Book Store in Mea Shearim has a wide range of English titles, but for a broader and more eclectic range which crosses many hashkafic boundaries try Pomeranz Bookseller near Ben Yehuda. Don’t forget the numerous second-hand book shops in Yerushalayim which often carry kodesh books too (and occasionally real gems!). A great bookstore in Teaneck is The Judaica House. Good annual book sales are the YU Seforim Sale at Yeshiva University in February, the Mosad HaRav Kook & Mercaz HaRav book sale in Kiryat Moshe in Nisan (mostly Hebrew sefarim), and the sales at the Yemei Iyun BaTanach at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut at the beginning of Av.
If you have comments, thoughts and ideas of books that you think I should read and/or should be added to the list, please email me!
All the books below have live links to Amazon, where possible. My comments on the books are underneath in italics. Enjoy!!!
1. CHUMASH AND COMMENTARIES
- The Living Torah – R’ Aryeh Kaplan
An interesting English translation of the Chumash, with helpful historical and contextual notes, maps and charts.
- Rav S. R. Hirsch on Chumash
Available in an older and also a more recently published English translation. Read it slowly and carefully to build a picture of Rav Hirsch’s worldview.
- Frameworks – R’ Mattis Weinberg
A very out-of-the-box thinker drawing unconventional conclusions from a massive range of sources. Like nothing you’ve seen before!
- Between the Lines of the Bible (2 Volumes) – R’ Yitzchak Etshalom
One of the few English speaking representatives of the ‘Gush’ school of Parshanut. See also R’ Menachem Leibtag’s website – www.tanach.org
- The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture – Yoram Hazony
Hazony is a leading voice in the growing school of Torah observant and top academic thinkers in Israel. This mind-opening work on the seismic shift in philosophical thinking introduced by the Chumash will change the way you relate to the text. A book that not only educates and inspires, but also makes you proud to be Jewish!
- Redeeming Relevance – R’ Francis Nataf
A fresh look with at most of the key themes in Chumash. R’ Nataf is an original thinker with passion and vision and is able to re-frame the Chumash in a though-provoking way.
2. TANACH AND COMMENTARIES
Most of the exciting new ideas in Tanach are emerging from the ‘New School’ of Tanach study based in Yeshivat Har Etzion (‘Gush’) and its sister college, Michlelet Herzog. Much of this material is now emerging in English, for example R’ Menachem Leibtag and writers such as Yael Ziegler.
- The Queen You Thought You Knew – R’ Dovid Fohrman
- The Beast that Crouches at the Door – R’ Dovid Fohrman
One of the few Rabbanim outside Israel producing really exciting and novel work on Tanach.
- Pshat Isn’t So Simple – R’ Hayyim Angel
- Tanakh – An Owner’s Manual – R’ Moshe Sokolow
An important read! Short guide to the important background issues that a person should be aware of – historical, textual, interpretive – when learning Tanach.
- Psalms That Speak to You – R’ Yitzchak Bell
- The Sabbath – Dayan Dr. Isidore Grunfeld
- Sabbath: Day of Eternity – R’ Aryeh Kaplan
Read EVERYTHING you can by R’ Aryeh Kaplan. You can pick up many of his works together in The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology.
- The Sabbath – R’ Abraham J. Heschel
A controversial figure who was closely associated with the Conservative movement and JTS for much of his life. Some of R’ Heschel’s views on other issues are outside the ‘comfort zone’ of most Orthodox thinkers today, but this specific sefer on the meaning of Shabbat is a classic and a must-read.
4. CHAGIM AND THE HOLIDAYS
- Book of our Heritage – R’ Eliyahu Kitov
- The Festivals in Halacha – R’ Shlomo Zevin
- Patterns in Time – R’ Mattis Weinberg
Only 2 vols ever came out – Chanukah (a mind-stretching read) and Rosh Hashana.
- The Exodus You Almost Passed Over – R’ Dovid Forman
- The World of Prayer – R’ Eli Munk
- The Juggler and the King – R’ Aharon Feldman
- Learning to Read Midrash – Simi Peters
7. CONTEMPORARY HALACHIC ISSUES
- Contemporary Halachic Problems – R’ J. David Bleich (7 vols)
- Gray Matter – R’ Chaim Jachter (4 vols)
- Dalet Amot & others – R’ Ari Enkin (9 vols)
- Headlines – Dovid Lichtenstein (2 vols)
- Search Engine – R’ Gil Student (2 vols)
Peninei Halakha – Rav Eliezer Melamed
An important and senior posek in the Religious Zionist world in Israel.
8.2 Hilchot Shabbat
- The 39 Melochos – R’ Dovid Ribiat
Very comprehensive. Try to read at least some of the detailed Hebrew footnotes.
- The Laws of Shabbos (7 vols) – R’ Simcha Bunim Cohen
- The Halachos of Shabbos – R’ Shimon Eider
Unfortunately only on a few of the melachot up to Bishul.
- The Halachos of Muktza – R’ Yisrael Pinchas Bodner
- The Halachos of Refuah – R’ Yisrael Pinchas Bodner
- Shmirat Shabbat K’Hilchata – R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth
Now in third edition in Hebrew. There is an English translation of the second edition, but the Hebrew (with footnotes) is far better – worth struggling through!
8.3 Hilchot Chagim
- Chol HaMoed – R’ Dovid Zucker/R’ Moshe Francis
- The Halachos of Pesach – R’ Shimon Eider
- Hilkhot Mo’adim – R’ David Brofsky
8.4 Hilchot Berachot
- The Halachos of Brochos – R’ Yisrael Pinchas Bodner
- Halachos of K’zayis – R’ Yisrael Pinchas Bodner
- The Laws of Brachos – R’ Binyomin Forst
- וזאת הברכה – ר’ אלכסדר מנדלבוים
8.5 Monetary Halacha
- The Laws of Tzedakka and Maaser – R’ Shimon Taub
- Halachos of Other People’s Money – R’ Yisrael Pinchas Bodner
- The Laws of Ribbis – R’ Yisroel Reisman
8.6 Hilchot Bein Adam Lechavero
- The Right and the Good – R’ Daniel Feldman
One of the senior and inspiring talmidei chachamim from the world of YU.
- Divine Footsteps – R’ Daniel Feldman
- The Laws of Outreach – R’ Avraham Edelstein
8.7 Hilchot Tefilla
- Priority in Prayer – R’ Yisroel Feinhandler
- Rigshei Lev: Women and Tefilla – R’ Menachem Nissel
- אשי ישראל – ר’ ירשאל פופיופר
8.8 Hilchot Kashrut
- Kashrus in the Kitchen Q&A – R’ Avi Wiesenfeld
- The Laws of Kashrus – R’ Binyamin Forst
8.9 Hilchot Shemitta
- Shemitta – R’ Yosef Zvi Rimon
One of the leading poskim in the Religious Zionist world.
- From Sinai to Ethiopia – R’ Sharon Shalom
A detailed comparison of the traditional practices of the Ethopian community with the normative halachic system.
9. JEWISH THOUGHT AND HASHKAFA
- The Nineteen Letters – R’ Shimshon Refael Hirsch
- Chorev – R’ Shimshon Refael Hirsch
A MUST!!! Not the easiest of quick-reads but so worth tackling. Perhaps look at the 19 Letters first and then graduate to Chorev.
- Introduction to Horeb – R’ I.Grunfield
Effectively a book in itself. Often printed in the front of English editions of Chorev.
- The Lonely Man of Faith – R’ Yosef Ber Soloveitchik
- Handbook of Jewish Thought (2 vols) – R’ Aryeh Kaplan
- The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology (2 vols) – R’ Aryeh Kaplan
- Living Inspired – R’ Akiva Tatz
- Worldmask – R’ Akiva Tatz
- Letters to a Buddhist Jew – R’ Akiva Tatz
- Permission to Believe & Permission to Receive – R’ Lawrence Keleman
Two short books setting out a basic outline of some of the classic philosophical and traditional proofs for the existence of God and the Authenticity of the Torah. There is MUCH more to say and R’ Keleman’s books are fairly simplified. Read them as a starting primer and then research the individual topics in more depth.
- Essential Essays on Judaism – R’ Eliezer Berkovits
- The Eye of the Storm – R’ Aharon Feldman
A collection of thought-through essays outlining the Charedi hashkafic position on many contemporary issues. Quite fiery in places!
- Hashgachah Pratis – R’ Aryeh Leibowitz
A good analysis of some of the key questions surrounding Divine Providence.
- The Paths of Providence: Does G-d Control Everything? – Chaim Gross
An excellent and comprehensive work on all of the key issues surrounding Divine Providence – nicely written in a very readable way.
- Rupture and Reconstruction – R’ Haym Soloveitchik
Really a long article and available free online. An important insight into how 20C Orthodox Judaism emerged.
- The Choice to Be – R’ Jeremy Kagan
An excellent contemporary presentation of classic hashkafic themes from the Maharal and other mystical sources on the issue of free choice. Much of this hashkafa is the backbone of modern Jewish teaching on these issues.
- Torah U’Madda – R’ Norman Lamm
An analysis of the fundamental defining doctrine on Modern Orthodoxy and the synthesis between Kodesh and Chol. A critical read for someone trying to work out what the Modern Orthodox world stands for.
- Maimonides Confrontation with Mysticism – Menachem Kellner
Kellner deals with around 10 key hashkafic issues, showing how the Rambam’s perspective differed from that of the proto-kabbalists of the day. Highly recommended. Kellner was until recently an academic in Haifa University with a specialism in the Rambam. He combines a fairly traditional personal approach (coming from an observant background) with a sharp academic analysis and a very readable writing style. He has many other books too, most of which I would recommend.
- Science in the Beit Midrash – Menachem Kellner
On the Rambam’s philosophy and hashkafa.
- Torah in the Observatory – Menachem Kellner On the Ralbag – Gersonides.
- The Limits of Orthodox Theology – Marc Shapiro
A controversial book. Shapiro analyses positions in the history of Jewish thought on the 13 Ikarim of the Rambam. The book is designed to show that many authorities disputed the Rambam’s conception of the Ikarim. Given that these Ikarim are central to many people’s definition of Orthodoxy today, the book was bound to raise a storm, and it did! Read with care.
- Must a Jew Believe Anything? – Menachem Kellner
Like Shapiro’s book, Kellner analyses the 13 Ikarim, asking if they are as simply defined as we sometimes think.
- The Rebbe, The Messiah and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference – R’ David Berger – A sharp critique of the post-Rebbe messianism of the Chabad movement.
- The Messiah Problem – R’ Chaim Rappaport
An intelligent and spirited response to R’ Berger’s book from a major talmid chacham connected with Chabad.
- Orthodox Forum Publications
The Orthodox Form produces a book every year or so containing excellent articles on contemporary hashkafic issues, especially those affecting the Modern Orthodox world.
- Faith Without Fear – R’ Michael Harris
An overview of the issues defining and challenging Modern Orthodoxy in the early 21st century. A good synopsis of what MO hashkafa should (but may not always) be.
- Seeking His Presence – R’ Chaim Sabato
Some of the thought of R’ Aharon Lichtenstein is now available in book form (see also following). It is important reading for those who value a passionate middle ground. Much more is available on https://www.etzion.org.il/
- By His Light – R’ Aharon Lichtenstein
- Leaves of Faith – R’ Aharon Lichtenstein (2 vol)
- Faith Shattered And Restored – R’ Shagar
One of the few books in English translation of the works of Rav Shagar. If you are interested in an excursus into Post-Modernist thought as understood through the prism of Chasidut, this is a great starting point!
- Reason To Believe – R’ Chaim Jachter
One of the most important books out on Emunah issues in the modern world. An important read after Rabbi Keleman’s books, R’ Jachter updates the arguments, brings a more critical and analytical perspective and also brings source from the leading thinkers in the non-Charedi world – Rav Lichtenstein, Rav Soloveitchik etc.
- God, Man and History – R’ Eliezer Berkowitz
- The Dignity of Difference – R’ Lord Jonathan Sacks
- Maimonides and the Book that Changed Judaism – Micah Goodman
An introduction to understanding Moreh Nevuchim
- Introduction to Medieval Jewish Philosophy – Daniel Rynhold
A very readable and helpful book. Very highly recommended.
- In the Footsteps of the Kuzari – R’ Shalom Rosenberg
- Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
- Out of the Depths – R’ Israel Meir Lau
12. RAV SOLOVEITCHIK
Read his books in this order and look on-line on YUTorah.org and also www.hashkafacircle.com to find guidance in how to learn them.
- The Lonely Man of Faith – R’ Yosef Ber Soloveitchik
- Halakhic Man – R’ Yosef Ber Soloveitchik
- The Emergence of Ethical Man – R’ Yosef Ber Soloveitchik
- Majesty and Humility: The Thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik – R’ Reuven Ziegler. Actually, this is the BEST way to approach the writings of R’ Soloveitchik systematically. Rabbi Ziegler takes you from the first tentative steps through to a broad and deep understanding of the Rav’s thought.
13. RAV KOOK
Far more has been published in English on Rav Kook over the last 3 years. Look out for translations and commentaries by R. Betzalel Naor and Chanan Morrison. A vast literature on R. Kook is available in Hebrew, especially by R. Shlomo Aviner.
- The Essential Writings of Rav Kook – Ben Zion Bokser
- Orot – trans R’ Bezalel Naor
- The Limit of Intellectual Freedom
- The Letters of Rav Kook – R’ Bezalel Naor
DEATH AND MOURNING
- The Bridge of Life – R’ Yechiel Michel Tukichinsky
- The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning – R’ Maurice Lamm
- Hilkhot Avelut – R’ David Brofsky
15. ORAL LAW AND HALACHIC PROCESS
This particular topic is a special interest of mine. I have categorised the books by level. I am producing a separate detailed reading list dedicated to this topic alone. Please contact me if you would like a copy.
- The Infinite Chain: Torah, Mesorah & Man – R’ Nathan Lopes-Cardozo
- The Oral and the Written Torah – R’ Nathan Lopes-Cardozo
- The Oral Law – R’ H. Chaim Schimmel
Probably the best initial primer in English.
- The Oral Law of Sinai (Mishnah) – R’ Berel Wein
These sefarim by Rabbi Wein chart the development of the Mishna and Talmud. Also nicely illustrated.
- Vision & Valor: An Illustrated History of the Talmud – R’ Berel Wein
- תורה מסיני – יהודה איזנברג ועמירם דומוביץ
- The Making of a Halachic Decision – R’ Moshe Walter
- Halachic Man – R’ Yosef Ber Soloveitchik
- The Essential Talmud – R’ Adin Steinsaltz
- Challenge of Sinai /Anvil of Sinai / Legacy of Sinai – R’ Zechariah Fendel
3 sefarim containing charts, maps and analysis of the history of Oral Law, based entirely on classic Torah sources.
- Halakhah – The Rabbinic Idea of Law – R’ Chaim Saiman
- The Dynamics of Dispute – R’ Zvi Lampel
A detailed look at the origins of machloket, with a clear perspective from within the yeshiva world.
- The Open Canon – Avi Sagi
Written using a more academic method and style but based on classic sources – a very comprehensive look at ‘Elu v’elu’.
- How Do We Know This? – Jay M Harris
Written as a fully academic study by a Harvard academic – a fascinating insight into the workings of halachic Drash and approaches to Drash throughout history. Only for the more academically inclined.
- Meta-Halakhah – Moshe Kopel
- Not In Heaven – R’ Eliezer Berkovitz
A controversial figure in the mid-late 20C Orthodox world. Most of the book is a superb analysis of Oral Law. The end sections on R’ Berkovits vision of halachic development often strain at (and beyond?) the fringes of Orthodox thought.
- סיני ללשכת הגזית – שלמה קסירר ושלמה גליקסברג
- מסורת התורה שבעל-פה – ר’ שלמה זלמן הבלין
- ההלכה כוחה ותפקידה –ר’ אליעזר ברקוביץ
- והלכה כבית הלל – ר’ יובל שרלו
- נטע בתוכינו – ר’ שמואל אריאל
15.3 Classic Sources available in English translation
- The Path of Torah – Netziv (trans R’ Elchanan Greenman)
- Maimonides’ Introduction to the Talmud – trans Tzvi Lampel
- The Student’s Guide through the Talmud – R’ Tzvi H. Chayes (trans Jacob Shachter)
- The Iggeres of R’ Sherira Gaon – R’ Nosson Dovid Rabinowitz
16. ISRAEL AND ZIONISM
- Kol Dodi Dofek (Eng translation) – R’ Yosef Ber Soloveitchik
- Israel – A History – Martin Gilbert
- Like Dreamers – Yossi Klein HaLevi
A fantastic insight into Israeli history and politics since 1967 through the life stories of the Paratroopers that took Har HaBayit during the 6 Day War. An important read if you want to understand Left/Right/Religious/Secular issues in Israel today.
- Rebels in the Holy Land – Sam Finkel
A fantastic work, with great maps and photos, charting the First Aliyah, the early creation of the New Yishuv and the Shemitta crises of the late 19C.
- Messianism, Zionism and Jewish Religious Radicalism – Aviezer Ravitsky
A clear analysis of the contemporary religious positions on Zionism – pro-, neutral and anti-.
- God, Guns and Israel – Jill Hamilton
A fantastic and stimulating account of the lead up and reaction to the Balfour Declaration, focusing on the religious positivity of non-Jewish world leaders which lead to the State of Israel
- The Balfour Declaration – Elliot Jager
- The Virtues of Nationalism – Yoram Hazony
A must-read if you want a new perspective on how to understand world politics in the 21st Century. Like all Hazony’s books – a life-changing read.
- Rav Kook – An Angel Among Men – Simcha Raz
- Rav Kook – Mystic in a time of Revolution – Yehuda Mirsky
Also a great initial primer for the thought of Rav Kook.
- R’ Yehiel Jacob Weinberg – Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy – Marc Shapiro
Professor Shapiro is another controversial figure from the Modern Orthodox world. Superb researcher and sharp social commentator!
- Maimonides – Joel Kraemer
- Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer – David Ellenson
- My Uncle The Netziv / Recollections – trans Moshe Dombey
Two different books, both translated selections from the Mekor Baruch by R’ Baruch HaLevi Epstein. A window into the 19C Lithuanian world.
- A Tzaddik in our Time – Simcha Raz – On the life of R’ Aryeh Levine.
- Rebbe – Joseph Telushkin
A fascinating and inspiring account of the life of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
- The Genius (on the Vilna Gaon) – Eliyahu Stern
- The Pillar of Volozhin (on the Netziv) – R’ Gil Perl
MAGAZINES AND JOURNALS
- Tradition Journal
Also available free online at http://traditionarchive.org/archives/.
- Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society
- Hakira Journal
Available free online at http://188.8.131.52/rhsweb/hakirahbrowsedb.asp.
- Orthodox Forum series
- Torah U’Madda Journal
Many of these can be downloaded free from YU Torah.
- Jewish History Trilogy: Triumph of Survival, Echoes of Glory, Herald of Destiny – R’ Berel Wein
- The Sages (4 vols) – R’ Benny Lau
A leading Rabbi in the Modern Orthodox world in Israel. These are more than just history or biography. Rabbi Lau seeks to use academic tools to develop classic sources to build a picture of the lives and thought of Chazal.
- Atlas of Jewish History – Martin Gilbert
- The Aleppo Codex – Matti Friedman
- Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls – Prof. Lawrence Schiffman
- From Text to Tradition – Prof. Lawrence Schiffman
- Sacred Trash – Adina Hoffman & Peter Cole
On the discovery of the Cairo Geniza.
- The Story of Hebrew – Lewis Glinnert
- Made in Heaven – R’ Aryeh Kaplan
- The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage – R’ Maurice Lamm
- Endless Light – R’ David Aaron
An unconventional thinking with a strong leaning towards the mystical and kabbalistic and new way of integrating these ideas into real life.
- The Torah as God’s Mind – R’ Nathan Lopes-Cardozo
WOMEN AND JUDAISM
- Circle, Arrow, Spiral – Exploring Gender in Judaism – Miriam Kosman
A recent sefer setting out clearly kabbalistic perspectives on ‘male’ and ‘female’. An important read to understand a well-argued and intelligent presentation from a Charedi perspective.
- Jewish Women in Jewish Law – R’ Moshe Meiselman
Also a very clear and thoughtful presentation by a well know Charedi Rosh Yeshiva.
- Serving the Creator / The Modest Way / Partners in Life – R’ Getsel Ellinson
Mostly sources rather than commentary – great for learning through with a chavruta.
- Women, Jewish Law and Modernity– R’ Joel Wolowelsky
A more ‘centrist’ presentation by a senior YU rabbi.
- Understanding Tzniut – R’ Yehuda Henkin
Rabbi Henkin is a senior posek from the Modern Orthodox/Religious Zoinist world. His approach is quite unique. For another (hopefully helpful) perspective on Tzniut see http://www.rabbimanning.com/index.php/audio-shiurim/understanding-tzniut/
TORAH AND SCIENCE
- The Great Partnership – R’ Lord Jonathan Sacks
Perhaps the most important book on the list! A MUST read for a thinking Jew in the modern world.
- In The Beginning – Nathan Aviezer
Aviezer and Schroeder are religiously observant scientists with interest perspectives and a strong ‘kiruv’ focus. They often disagree about the science as well as the Jewish conclusions!
- Fossils and Faith – Nathan Aviezer
- The Science of G-d – Gerald Schroeder
- The Science in Torah – R’ Yehuda Levi
- Torah and Science – R’ Yehuda Levi
- The Science of Torah – R’ Natan Slifkin
Rabbi Slifkin stirred up a major controversy around 8 years ago with these sefarim. Some major Torah leaders sought to put the books in cherem. Others rallied around R’ Slifkin. Yet others felt that the controversy made it harder to bring a much needed and reasoned critique against R’ Slifkin’s positions.
- The Challenge of Creation – R’ Natan Slifkin
- Torah Chazal Science – R’ Moshe Meiselman
R’ Meiselman has written a response (although not in name) to R’ Slifkin’s sefarim. Both approaches should be read and considered. As in all such works, a good science background (or someone to advise you who knows their science) is always recommended to check that the science data is up-to-date and correctly represented.
- Challenge – Cyril Domb / R’ Aryeh Carmell
This, and its sequel, Encounter, are old classics. The science discussed has often been superseded BUT read them for the methodology as to how a thinking modern observant Jews tackles apparent and real conflicts between science and religion.
- Encounter – H. Schimmel / Aryeh Carmell
GEMARA AND TALMUDIC METHODOLOGY
- Journeys in Talmud – R’ Immanuel Bernstein
BIBLICAL CRITICISM AND ACADEMIC APPROACHES TO TEXTS
This topic has had something of a revival recently. Clearly it is not new and there are classic responses to the 19C schools of Wissenschaft Des Judentums. There is some good online discussion of this (and some very bad!!). Look for the material coming from Har Etzion, in particular R’ Menachem Leibtag and R’ Amnon Bazak.
- The Documentary Hypothesis – R’ Umberto Cassuto
A classic (1930s) refutation of the Documentary Hypothesis.
- A Journey Through Torah – Ben Zion Katz
A modern analysis of flaws and circular argumentation in the recent incarnations of the Documentary Hypothesis.
- BeEinei Elohim VeAdam (Heb) – ed. Yehudah Brandes
- Ad HaYom HaZeh (Heb) – R’ Amnon Bazak
- Inconsistency in the Torah – R’ Joshua Berman
R’ Josh Berman is one of the main authors on the rare (but important) meeting of orthodox thought and academic biblical studies. Definitely not for everyone, but people who are already interested in/bothered by this area will gain from his writings.
- Understanding the Jewish Calendar – Nathan Bushwick
- The Challenge of Jewish History – R’ Alexander Hool
A new analysis of the old question of the missing 164 or so years in the Jewish calendar during the Second Temple Period. Not an academic but a very comprensive overview of the issue from traditional Torah sources.
- Jewish History in Conflict – Mitchell First
A very comprehensive assessment of over 100 opinions on the missing years.
- Judaism and Homosexuality – R’ Chaim Rappaport
By far the best book out there on Jewish perspectives on these issues. R’ Rappaport is a major talmid chacham and the book is fantastically sourced and researched. It is also written with a quest for authenticity at the same time as sensitivity.
- Talking about Intimacy and Sexuality – Dr. Yocheved Debow
A very good book, aimed at adolescents and those counselling them. There is very little written on these issues from an authentic Jewish perspective.
SOCIAL JUSTICE AND ETHICS
- Defending the Human Spirit – R’ Warren Goldstein
Very impressive book by the Chief Rabbi of South Africa. This is his PhD thesis. Hear and read his other material where you can.
- Shem MiShmuel – trans. R’ Zvi Belovski
- The Quest for Authenticity – R’ Michael Rosen
CHINUCH AND CHILDREN
- Planting & Building in Education – R’ Shlomo Wolbe