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A few questions about studying religious texts.

I’d like to preface this by saying that I’m not 100% sure about some of the terminology here, and so I apologize in advance for any offense I may cause, and hope my meaning is clear despite my ignorance.

Background: I’ve always been a student of religion, and have recently been looking at the origins and history of Judaism and related pre-semitic/proto-semitic belief systems, but I’m kind of tired of reading what other people have to say about some of these ancient texts, and would like to read them for myself.

I’ve decided that I’d like to work backwards starting at the masoretic text as it was the basis for many of the popular English language Bible translations, as well as being rather faithfully reproduced from the original scrolls. (According to what I’ve read at least.)

Now to the questions:

Can anyone recommend a good digital version of the masoretic text? I searched the play store, but as an ‘outsider’, I don’t know what is good or not. They could slip in some total nonsense, and I may not notice.

I did download Sefaria. Does anyone know if it’s good? It claims to have many hebrew religious texts, in both hebrew and English, so it may be a valuable resource, but again, only if the information is accurate. They have 2 options for ‘custom’, either Ashkenazi or Sephardi. If I’m reading for research purposes, would this choice matter? What’s the difference? I know these are branches (tribes?) of the hebrew/jewish people/faith, but I’m not sure what the distinction is.

As you can probably tell, there are some gaps in my knowledge of Judaism and it’s adherents, so I’m not even totally sure if I’m starting in the right place. I just figured I’d work backwards from what I do know. (The bible) Would anyone recommend a different starting place? I know there are various religious texts within the jewish faith, but I’m not totally sure if I’m in the right place. Assuming I have chosen a valid starting place, what should I read next?

I will be simultaneously teaching myself hebrew, and am having no luck with the popular language learning apps because they don’t start off basic enough, and are geared towards more modern communication besides. Can anyone recommend a good resource for learning the very basics of hebrew language? Like literally starting at alphabet (alephbeth?) and grammar structure and what sounds the characters make, but in English. I learn languages fast, but need those basics and hebrew is so drastically different from any other languages I’ve studied.

Tl;dr:

Anyone know a good digital source for the masoretic text?

Is Sefaria any good?

What would you consider a good starting point for someone trying to read jewish religious texts?

Is there a good app or website to learn the basics of hebrew language?

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