Basic and Important
Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:59 PM
Explains the meaning of what we say in Shacharis from Pesukei deZimra to Shmone Esreh, why we call Hashem Hashem, Melech, Av, and more.
I studied 6 years to be a frum jew. Looking back, studying my Siddur intensely laid the foundation for my learning in every other area.
If anyone wants to know what proper Tefilla is, Rabbi Miller's writing is an excellent companion.
Posted 03 May 2012 - 10:50 PM
Posted 15 May 2012 - 06:37 AM
There is still nothing out there in English on basic Jewish Hashkafa that comes close to the three books on the topic by Rav Avigdor Miller ZTL: "Awake My Glory," "Sing You Righteous," and "Rejoice O Youth." They provide an understanding of Jewish ideology (including Emunah; Bitachon; Torah Shebiksa and Baal Peh; the mission of a Frum Jew; a perspective on Jewish history; proper way to learn Tanach; understanding Shabbos; how to come to love Hashem; proving Hashem's existence; dealing with other religions, atheism and evolution; scientists , and more) that is, amazingly, equally informative for beginners and Bnei Torah alike. Required reading.
Next step: In Loshon HaKodesh, for a basic understanding of Machshava on topics such as Emunah, Bitachon, Bechirah and Hashgacha, שפתי חיים, by Rav Chaim Friedlander ZTL on those topics.
To understand Daas Torah on contemporary issues: Maaseh Ish (stories and Hashkafos of the Chazon Ish), Rav Elchonon Wasserman's ZTL Kovetz Maamarim (use the Mafteach to choose relevant topics), Michtavim Umaamarim from Rav Schach ZTL, and Muller's biography on the Brisker Rav.
For inspiration for a young man (or woman) and a workable plan for growth - Chovas HaTalmidim, by Rav Klonimus Kalman Shapiro ZTL, the Piasetzna Rebbe.
As far as Gedolim books, there are plenty out there that are excellent. I would recommend those that emphasize the Hashkafos and opinions of the Gadol, which makes the knowledge of his life more valuable. Examples, Muller's biography on the Brisker Rav, and the biography on Rav Ahron Kotler.
Then there are the classics:
The single most important Sefer on Avodas Hashem: Chovos Halevovos.
For growing in frumkeit: Mesilas Yeshorim.
For understanding Hashem's plan for the world, and how good and evil interact in the world to make the plan happen - Daas Tevuns of the Ramchal.
For a comprehensive and summarized, step-by-step description of Jewish philosophy - Derech Hashem of the Ramchal.