I have found that the first thing to do when you want to learn something about a subject, is to start with the idea that you know absolutely nothing. I understand, for example, that Judaism has either branches, or sects, or various subgroups. I'm interested in understanding Orthodoxy, which I understand isn't even one branch, but a bunch of branches.
(Update: if "branch" is an incorrect word, please understand that I mean only, groups which could be held distinct in some way, from the rest of Orthodox Judaism.)
What is a good book that helps with understanding Orthodox Judaism, as it exists today and is practiced, it's history and ideas and most of all, the underlying principles or forms, or ideas, which make it itself. A good book for me would answer these questions:
- What do the authorities within Orthodox judaism say about Orthodox Judaism. How do they define it?
- What is the daily life of those comitted to the practices of Orthodoxy look like, including the practice of "Shabbat/"Shabbos"
- Introducing the the study of Torah, Tanakh, and Talmud, as it is understood by Orthodox authorities.
I realize that all of the above are worthy of their own books. But imagine, you simply want somewhere to start. is there a good book on what Orthodox judaism is, that addresses at least a little bit of those subject areas, that would be readable by someone with zero knowledge of Hebrew?
The most important thing I want to know is that the view in the book is presented by those who themselves hold the views they are describing. That is, I am not looking for an external, or academic view. I am looking for an internal view, but perhaps written so that those who are not part of the religion, or practicing it themselves, might be able to understand it.