Sefaria is a well-known repository of Jewish online texts with a vision to make all texts available to everyone for free. It is a widely used tool on MiYodeya to copy verses and link to more in-depth commentary.

I had an opportunity to meet twice with Daniel Septimus, Sefaria's CEO, and discussed in-depth their strategy and roadmap forward. It occurred to me that getting feedback from the MiYodeya community, likely to be one of advanced heavy-users could be extremely valuable and Daniel indeed was very interested.

So my question is

  • what is your feedback on the current version of Sefaria?
  • what, if any, new feature would you like to see?
  • how should Sefaria evolve to be of best use to you?

Please list each idea/feature separately so the community can vote on them and offer a sense of prioritization.

Once we have a number of quality answers, I will share with Daniel and share back any feedback he has for us.

  • Don't we create a community wiki for this? – Kazi bácsi Jun 12 at 11:09
  • Happy to but have never done so. How does it work practically? And is it better than adding answers below? – mbloch Jun 12 at 11:19
  • I don't have the slightest idea, but you're the admin, aren't you? :-) I would consider this solution, since you would most likely present a single "document" if I'm right. – Kazi bácsi Jun 12 at 11:22
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    I am not an admin (called a moderator) - the mods are here judaism.stackexchange.com/users?tab=moderators // I was thinking of referring them to this page (once it has enough ideas) and liked the idea of "feature prioritization" through votes. The best ideas will bubble up with more votes. Not we just need some good ideas ! – mbloch Jun 12 at 11:24
  • There's no need for a wiki post here, since there's no rep anyway on meta and we arent expecting lots of edits to update things. Multiple answers are fine. @kazi – Double AA Jun 14 at 3:45

Sefaria is a wonderful tool to access reference material and drill deeper on multiple layers of commentary. It is however not the most convenient when trying to learn a text from beginning to end.

It would be wonderful if Sefaria would offer different styles of user-interface to match different use cases. Next to the current "look up some text" user interface, I would imagine a "learn a text with its commentaries" interface. Imagine for the weekly parsha for instance

  • you could choose a text
  • choose its commentaries (e.g., Onkelos + Rashi, or Rashi + Ramban)
  • the page would show the running text on the left, the various commentaries each in their window on the right
  • text and commentaries would be synced so that scrolling on the left automatically scrolls on the right (or at a minimum a click on the left would re-sync the commentaries)

This would turn Sefaria from a reference tool to a learning platform - and if impact is measures by hours of Sefaria content consumed, this could turn my weekly usage from minutes to hours. Especially if also available on mobile devices.

  • You can already to this. If you click a section of text, say a pasuk, a 'Resources' window opens on the right. Click commentaries / מפרשים for a list of available commentaries. Choose one, and it stays in the window on the right as a running commentary when you scroll. – Joel K Jun 11 at 7:06
  • Yes but it only works only with one commentary and scrolling jumps depending how fast you scroll. Hey a man can dream :-> and I’m hoping the community will come up with better feedback – mbloch Jun 11 at 7:09
  • Which browser are you using? On my laptop using Google Chrome, the scrolling works fine. You're right that I can only see one commentary at a time, but if I select more than one there are buttons at the top to quickly toggle between them. – Joel K Jun 11 at 7:12
  • Also using Chrome. I guess it depends how fast you scroll. The issue with the "commentary buttons" is that you don't know if a commentary exists on a verse, on Ramban for instance, often you click and get no commentary – mbloch Jun 11 at 9:32
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    May have more feedback later; short on time. Not sure what the Sefaria app looks like right now (uninstalled; this old phone is running out of space), but regarding "learning platform" -when using the app, there were options for dad yomi and other daily limudim, but no mishna yomis. I would've really loved to use that ...so maybe customizable daily limudim could also help. (with the caveat that it may have been implemented already) – Shokhet Jun 12 at 5:27
  • @Shokhet not that I know of. Would love if you write it up as an answer when more time – mbloch Jun 12 at 6:00
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    I suppose the issue with Sefaria that it is rather a learning platform. Mechon Mamre (Tanakh), HebrewBooks (Talmud) and WikiSource (Shulchan Arukh) are far simpler sites and are quicker to use and link. Although the biggest advantage of Sefaria are the translations, but sometimes their availability is quite random. – Kazi bácsi Jun 12 at 11:30

Many times I like to copy some text from Sefaria. However, when I try to select it (by clicking and dragging), it then removes that highlighting and instead displays the resource panel on the right. If it would retain my highlighting I would be able to copy it right away, but instead I have to highlight it again.

MY users do a lot of linking to Sefaria. The current approach to create a link is cumbersome and time-consuming. The fastest I found is to click on the verse, go to the right, scroll down, click Tools, click Share, Ctrl/Cmd-C to copy.

A shortcut that accelerates this process would be most welcome. It could be for instance a first-level "Copy link" on the right side when clicking a verse (e.g., below Sheets), or a copy-link icon next to the alef on top of the right side of the screen when clicking a verse.

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    You can just copy the page URL from your browser UI. – msh210 Jun 11 at 5:36
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    Hmmm. Now I feel stupid. But better to look stupid than to stay stupid. Thanks a lot! – mbloch Jun 11 at 6:03
  • @msh210 sometimes the paragraph you want to link to is not the one it detects you're viewing, and therefore is not included in the URL. (And if you click on said paragraph the sidebar shows up, which may not be what you want.) – Ploni Jun 21 at 1:10

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