You can tell a lot about a person’s interests by what they read. One may be learning a particular tractate in school or in a Daf Yomi group. Another may be seeking new ideas to share at the Shabbat table. A parent may be looking to inspire their children as they learn tefilla, while he or she wishes to enrich their own overall connection to Judaism.
Looking at our list top 10 bestselling books from 2016, it seems that there’s a lot of Gemara learning going on. We’re certainly pleased about that!
The Talmud is the cornerstone of Jewish culture…Perhaps because it was composed not by a single individual, but rather by hundreds and thousands of Sages in batei midrash in an ongoing, millennium-long process, the Talmud expresses the deepest themes and values not only of the Jewish people, but also of the Jewish spirit.
Thus writes Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in each volume of the Noé Edition of the Koren Talmud Bavli.
The Daf Yomi cycle is currently learning Bava Kamma, which focus on tort law. This means that it deals with the range of responsibility and compensation for which one is liable after causing damage to another’s body or property. Bava Kamma comprise two volumes (volumes 23 and 24 of the Noé Edition of the Koren Talmud Bavli). It is clear that Rabbi Steinsaltz’s commentary and marginal notes make the world of Talmudic tort law accessible to all.
Are you learning Daf Yomi? Interested in Talmudic law? Treat yourself to a subscription and join the ranks of thousands who are learning Talmud guided by Rav Steinsaltz’s brilliance on every page.
3. The Koren Sacks Siddur – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
The Lobel Edition of the Koren Sacks Siddur continues to be Koren’s flagship publication for the English-speaking world. The Siddur features a brilliant introduction, poetic translation and profound commentary by the inimitable Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. It is the only Orthodox siddur that includes: prayers for the state of Israel, its soldiers and national holidays, and a halakhic guide for visitors; prayers following childbirth and upon the birth of a daughter; a modern translation and transliteration, and citations of modern authorities.
Due to its popularity, the Sacks Siddur comes in a variety of sizes and covers.
4. The Gemara Card – by Rabbi Yitzhak Frank and David Sachs
The Gemara Card is an innovative, new tool to help students of all ages. This lightweight, six-sided card helps make Gemara accessible to students who value learning Gemara in its original text, without translation. Created in partnership with Rabbi Yitzhak Frank, the author of The Practical Talmud Dictionary and Grammar for Gemara, The Gemara Card was conceived and designed by David Sachs – a beginner yeshiva student struggling to break the barriers to entry to learning Gemara independently.
As soon as The Gemara Card was released, it was an instant hit amongst Gemara educators and students alike. Designed to enable students to locate content in 10 seconds or less, The Gemara Card is known for its strategic, user-friendly design and Hebrew with nikkudot (vowels) which makes it easier for students to read. Read more about the development of the card.
5. Essays on Ethics – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ series Covenant & Conversation: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible has become one of the most popular parasha series since it was released in print. Now there are two companion volumes that examine the weekly Torah portion through a particular lens: Lessons in Leadership (see #5) and Essays on Ethics. Essays on Ethics uncovers the Bible’s message of message of truth and justice, dignity and compassion, forgiveness and love.
Like all of Rabbi Sacks’ titles, this volume has been applauded by readers around the world. Senator Joseph Lieberman, who wrote the foreword to the volume, writes, “Rabbi Sacks speaks in a strong, principled, eloquent voice. His insights will enrich the reader’s understanding of the Torah and guide the daily efforts each of us make to choose good over evil.”
This book contains all parshiot in one volume
6. The Long Night – Ernst Bornstein
The Long Night is the firsthand account of what Ernst Bornstein witnessed in seven concentration camps during the Holocaust. The fact that this memoir was written shortly after the war makes readers appreciate the sharp detail and raw emotion of the writing.
Originally published in German in 1967 as Die Lange Nacht, the memoir was translated into English by the author’s daughter. The Long Night is a powerful resource for Holocaust curricula for high school and up. For more information, read “Translating My Father’s Holocaust Memoir”.
7. The Secret of Chabad – David Eliezrie
During the holiday season, Chabad is ubiquitous, recognized by their Menorah lighting ceremonies in public squares around the globe. In this popular title, Rabbi David Eliezrie – a veteran Chabad shaliach with keen insider’s perspective – depicts the events, philosophies, and personalities that have made Chabad Lubavitch a worldwide phenomenon.
8. Lessons in Leadership – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Similar to #2 listed above, Lessons in Leadership is the first companion volume to Rabbi Sacks’ popular series Covenant & Conversation. Here, Rabbi Sacks – an international religious leader, philosopher, and award-winning author – mines the weekly Torah portions for insights into the nature of power, authority, and leadership. Based on the understanding that no man is born a leader, the book explores the principles, and perils, of becoming one. This book contains all parshiot in one volume.
This beautiful Siddur, part of the Koren Magerman Educational Siddur Series, is geared for children in grades 3-5. Since its launch earlier this year, it has been adopted by Jewish schools in the US, UK and Australia. Designed with a variety of educational visual aids such as illustrations, quotes, stories and questions, this siddur is an excellent tool to help children create a personal encounter with Jewish prayer and God.
Perfect for classroom, home or synagogue, the Youth Siddur is accompanied by an Educator’s Companion to help teachers and parents maximize the educational potential of this Siddur.
10. Sage Advice: Pirkei Avot – Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg’s line-by-line commentary offers an original reading of Pirkei Avot, applying its teachings to the questions and challenges of our rapidly changing world.
We’ve succeeded in publishing more titles than ever in 2016. Here’s to a fruitful 2017 filled with inspiration and productivity. Happy learning!