With so many wonderful texts on Sefaria, it can be hard to know where to start. Why not ask the people who work with and know the site better than anyone? Get started with this list of Sefaria Staff Favorites, including a little about why each text is so great. Read a short snippet of the text and click through on the ones that inspire you the most to read more.
Daniel Septimus, Chief Executive Officer
My favorite text is the story of Rabbi Elazar in Taanit 20a:16 - 20b:3. This story of Rabbi Elazar illustrates the dangers of pride and why some use a reed for the writing of a sefer Torah.
Brett Lockspeiser, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer
My favorite text is the stories of Honi Hamaegal and Abba Hilkiyya in Taanit 23a-b.
Lev Israel, Chief Data Officer
These two parallel passages in Talmud. They talk about the profound reticence that the Rabbis of the Talmud had for writing down Torah. It illustrates how important media is - and how the container shapes what’s in it. Which is of huge import for our day - as everything in poured into digital media.
Sara Wolkenfeld, Chief Learning Officer
My favorite text is Perek HaChovel, the 8th Chapter of Tractate Bava Kamma. It is all about responsibility and restitution and the interpretive processes the rabbis use to build a just society.
Lizi Martin, Israel Director
Deuteronomy 30 is my favorite text because it highlights G-d's belief in us. The relationship between G-d and the Jewish people is not only based on our belief in him (her?) but also, just as importantly, is G-d's belief in us.
Just like parents and teachers- to children, one of the most critical values that G-d could instill in us- as a people, is confidence. Living a Jewish life is in our reach.
Rachel Buckman, Education Associate
Temurah 16a:3 is my favorite text because it emphasizes the importance of being actively involved in the learning process. Struggling with a text is even better than getting a direct injection from God!
Lorenzo Fernando Davis, Sr. Infrastructure & Backend Engineer
One of my favorite texts is Mishneh Torah, Transmission of the Oral Law. Passage 22 is a favored passage that summarizes a key theme of the chapter that is dear to my heart: The strength and continuity of Torah relies on not just the gedolei hadorot (the greats of the generation), but also on the thousands and tens of thousands of Jews that study and embody Torah in their lives. The cultivation of this class of people is so important to the Rambam and his desire to buttress Torah, that he cites it as a key motivation for the creation of not only the present work, but also for the Mishnah.
Tali Herenstein, Chief of Staff
There is a line that I keep returning to in Ruth Rabbah which comments on how the action of Megillat Ruth unfolded: "Rabbi Eliezer said: "Boaz did his part and Ruth did her part, and Naomi did her part, and the Holy One, blessed be He said: "So I will do my part" (Ruth Rabbah 7:7).
According to Rabbi Eliezer, the story is delivered its triumphant conclusion because each of the central characters steps up to the task before them, spurring God to action in turn. It's a simple line but a striking commentary on the interplay between human agency and divine intervention. It takes one step further another favorite passage, the well-known Rabbi Tarfon adage (Pirkei Avot 2:16): It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it," – now explicitly naming God as a potential partner for humankind in their efforts. At a moment in history where the work before us can feel so colossal and the task at hand so daunting, it's a powerful reminder that we are each responsible to step up and do our part, but that we may also count on God to do His part, too.
Steve Kaplan, Content Engineer
My favorite text is the book Tomer Devorah -- It enjoins us to behave with love, compassion, and respect for all living things, even the "puniest of the puny creatures" and the "evildoers."
Jonathan Mosenkis, Sr. Content Engineer
My favorite text is the Pesach Haggadah. It's not just a foundational text, but it really tries to combine the essence of what Judaism is. Beyond just telling the story of the Exodus, you get Midrashic learning, encouragement by the text to add contemporary study patterns with a lot of the ritualism mixed in. If Judaism could be boiled down to one book that would be it (in my opinion).
Noah Santacruz, Sr. Research Engineer
I love Chapter 31 of The Books of Jeremiah which is just so positive and the wording is beautiful. It includes so many of the great quotes from Jeremiah. It's also interesting how the interpretation of this chapter has shifted so much. Initially it seems to have about the return of the lost 10 tribes to reunite with Judah. But now it's interpreted by many as modern day Jews returning to Israel.
Israel Tsadok, Educational Consultant
One of my favorite texts is The Book of Ezra. Reading this almost last part of Tanakh, gives you a sense of what it means to rebuild a nation, and is interesting to compare to the struggles and victories of the zionist movement.
Chava Tzemach, Communications & Marketing Manager
One of my favorite texts is Perek Shirah. I love how this text centers on the idea of all of the natural elements, flora, and fauna of Earth praising their Creator in their own unique way.
Shmuel Weissman, Manager of Text Acquisition & Text Quality
My favorite text is Sefer Hamitzvot of Rasag. While not as popular, Rav Saadia Gaon’s work is of similar genre to the classic Monei Hamitzvot, such as Rambam and Chinukh. In his short work, Rasag presents the commandments in the form of Azharot – a liturgical poem, where each phrase, word and syllable is as instructive as charming, not worn away by millennia…
Hedva Yechieli, Education Coordinator Israel
My favorite text is Tzidkat HaTzadick. Beyond the chasidic content and its in-depth look into the Jewish soul, this book was ahead of its time in the ability of R' Tsadok to create a philosophy that is relevant for our postmodern era.