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Tefillin

[Ashk. Heb., Eng. tuh-fil-in; Seph. Heb. tuh-fee-leen]

Tefillin, (תפילין), also called phylacteries, are a pair of black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with biblical verses. The hand-tefillin, or shel yad, is worn by Jews wrapped around the arm, hand and fingers, while the head-tefillin, or shel rosh, is placed above the forehead. They serve as a "sign" and "remembrance" that God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. According to Jewish Law, they should be worn during weekday morning prayer services.

The sources provided for tefillin in the Torah are from vague verses. The following verse from the shema states: "And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes"

The verse does not designate what one is obliged to "bind upon your arm” nor is a description given as to what totafot means. It is only by way of the Oral tradition that tefillin exist as we now know them.

The term “to lay tefillin” is often used in English as in this article. The term is derived from the Yiddish, tefillen leygen and a literal translation of Deuteronomy 11:18. It is also correct to use the term "wear" when referring to tefillin.

Torah related sources

The obligation of tefillin is mentioned four times in the Torah. Twice when recalling the The Exodus from Egypt:
"And it shall be for a sign for you upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand did the bring you out of Egypt"Exodus 13:9

"And it shall be for a sign upon your hand, and as totafot between your eyes; for with a mighty hand did the bring us forth out of Egypt"Exodus 13:16

— and twice in the shema passage:

"And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes"Deuteronomy 6:8

"Therefore you shall lay these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them for a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes"Deuteronomy 11:18

Etymology and earliest forms

In the Torah tefillin are called totafot. Rashi quotes the Talmud in Sanhedrin 4b and explains that the word is combination of two foreign words. “Tot” in the Caspi language means two and “fot” in the Afriki language means two, hence tot and fot means two and two, which equals four, corresponding to the four compartments of the head-tefillin.

Menahem ben Saruq explains that the word is derived from the Hebrew word ve'hateif and tatifoo, expressions meaning speech; for when one sees the tefillin it causes him to remember and speak about The Exodus from Egypt.

Targum Onkelos and the Peshitta translate the word "totafot" as tefillin. The Tur writes that the word "tefillin" is derived from the word "pelilah" meaning evidence, because tefillin act as a sign and proof that the shechinah rests upon the Jewish people.

The word tefillin is also related to the Hebrew word "tefillah", meaning prayer. The term "tefillin" is found in Talmudic literature, although the Biblical word totafot was still current, being used with the meaning of "frontlet". In rabbinic literature the expression is not found translated into a foreign word.

The Septuagint renders "totafot" as ἀσαλευτόν meaning "something immovable". A reference in the English translation New Testament calls tefillin "phylacteries", from the Greek "phulakt rion" meaning "guard's post" or "safeguard" from phulakt r, guard, from phulax, phulak. However, neither do Aquila and Symmachus use the word "phylacteries".

Excavation of Qumran in the Judean Desert in 1955 indicated widespread use of tefillin during the Second Temple period. The dig revealed the earliest remains of tefillin, both the leather containers and scrolls of parchment, dating from the 1st century. Some of the scrolls found deviate from the traditional passages prescribed by the sages. This led scholars to believe that some of the sets were used by a non-Pharisee sect.

Manufacture and contents

Leather boxes and straps

Tefillin consist of two black leather boxes, one laid on the arm known as the shel yad, literally "for the hand", and the other laid on the head known as the shel rosh, literally "for the head".

Before beginning any stage of the process of the manufacture of tefillin, it is essential that the act has specific "kavanah" or intent to fulfill the mitzvah of tefillin. It is common for the pronouncement Leshem mitzvat tefillin — for the sake of the commandment of tefillin — to be made.

There are ten essential requirements tefillin must have in order for them to be kosher:

  1. The scroll must be written with ink.
  2. The scrolls must be made of parchment.
  3. The boxes and their stitches must be perfectly square.
  4. On the right and left side of the head-tefillin the letter shin must be embossed.
  5. The scrolls must be wrapped in a strip of cloth.
  6. The scrolls should be bound with kosher animal hair.
  7. The stitching must be done with sinew of a kosher animal.
  8. A “passageway” must be made for the strap to pass through.
  9. The straps must be black.
  10. The straps should be knotted in the form of the letter dalet.

The boxes are made from the skins of kosher livestock. The boxes, or battim, both the upper cube — the ketzitzah — and base — the teturah — must be perfectly square and must be painted black. Each box has a lower base which can be opened for inserting scrolls of parchment. The opening flap is stitched closed with sinew through twelve holes. The stitching must also form a perfect square. There is a passageway along the back of the lower base called the ma'avartah where leather straps are passed through. The straps must be black on the outside. The straps must also be prepared from the skin of a kosher animal. The measurements of the boxes are not given and the Shulchan Aruch states that there is no minimum or maximum size for tefillin.

Depending on custom, the knot of the head-tefillin strap forms either the letter dalet (ד) or a square consisting of a double dalet. The strap that is passed through the arm-tefillin is formed into a knot in the shape of the letter yodh (י). The right and left outside faces of the head-tefillin box have the letter shin (ש). The shin on the left side has an additional internal arm to imply Shaddai, one of the names of God in Judaism.

Parchment scrolls

The arm-tefillin has only one compartment, which contains four biblical passages written upon a single strip of parchment in four parallel columns. The head-tefillin has four separate compartments, formed from one piece of leather, in each of which one scroll of parchment is placed. The passages inscribed on the parchment all include a reference to the commandment of tefillin:

  • Kadesh Li — the duty of the Jewish people to always remember the redemption from Egyptian bondage,

Exodus 13:1-10:

And the spoke to Moses, saying: 'Sanctify to Me all the first-born, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast, it is Mine.' And Moses said to the people: 'Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the brought you out from this place; no leavened bread shall be eaten. This day you go forth in the Spring month. And it shall be when the shall bring you into the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which He swore unto your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and the seventh day shall be a feast to the . Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and no leavened bread shall be seen with you, neither shall there be leaven seen with you, in all your borders. And so shall you tell your son on that day, saying: It is because of that which the did for me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign for you upon your hand, and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand has the brought you out of Egypt. You shalt therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.

  • Ve-haya Ki Yeviakha — the obligation of every Jew to inform his children on these matters,

Exodus 13:11-16:

And it shall be when the shall bring you into the land of the Canaanite, as He swore unto you and to your fathers, and shall give it to you, that you shall set apart to the all that opens the womb; every firstling that is a male, which you have coming of a beast, shall be the 'S. And every firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and all the first-born of man among your sons shall you redeem. And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying: What is this? that you shall say to him: By strength of hand the bring us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage; and it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go that the slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the first-born of man, and the first-born of beast; therefore I sacrifice to the all that openeth the womb, being males; but all the first-born of my sons I redeem. And it shall be for a sign upon your hand, and as frontlets between your eyes; for by strength of hand the brought us forth out of Egypt.

  • Shema — pronouncing the Unity of The One God,

Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Hear, O Israel: the our God, the is one. And you shall love the your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the door-posts of your house, and upon your gates.

  • Ve-haya Im Shamoa — expressing God's assurance to us of reward that will follow our observance of the Torah's precepts, and warning of retribution for disobedience to them,

Deuteronomy 11:13-21:

And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your corn, and your wine, and your oil. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and thou shalt eat and be satisfied. Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; and the anger of the be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, so that there shall be no rain, and the ground shall not yield her fruit; and ye perish quickly from off the good land which the giveth you. Therefore you shall lay these, My words, in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. And you shall teach them your children, talking of them, when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them upon the door-posts of your house, and upon your gates; that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, upon the land which the swore unto your fathers to give them, as the days of the heavens above the earth.

The parchments must be specially prepared from the skin of kosher livestock for the purpose. The preferred parchment material for tefillin is klaf. When writing the passages, the scribe should be meticulous to have in mind that he is doing so "for the sake of the sanctity of tefillin". Before writing any of the names of God he should say: "I am writing this for the sake of the sanctity of the Name". The writing of the passages which contain 3,188 letters usually takes between 10-15 hours. It is imperative that the scribe remains constantly focused. Unlike a Sefer Torah but similar to a mezuzah, tefillin passages must be written in order of how they appears in the Torah and should the words be written out of sequence, the parchment is invalid.

The passages are hand-written by a scribe with certified kosher black ink. Ashuri script must be used for writing tefillin. There are three main customs for the style of lettering used:

  • Beis Yosef – generally used by Ashkenasim
  • Arizal – generally used by Hasidim
  • Velish – used by Sefardim

The pieces of parchment on which the biblical selections are written are tied round with narrow strips of parchment and fastened with the thoroughly washed tail hair of a kosher animal, preferably of a calf.

Arrangement of the passages and scrolls

There is considerable discussion among the commentators of the Talmud as to the order in which the biblical passages should be written in the arm-tefillin and inserted into the head-tefillin. The rabbis most famous for this dispute were Rashi and his grandson Rabbeinu Tam and the two versions used today are named after them, "Rashi Tefillin" being the accepted version. Other possible arrangements are suggested by Shimmusha Rabba, a halachic text attributed to Rav Sar Shalom, (9th century), and Ravad, (12th century). Rabbenu Asher, early 14th century, wrote that he was utterly uncertain of the proper order and therefore everyone should lay two sets of tefillin, one according to Rashi and the other according to Rabbenu Tam.

Later, the foremost 16th century kabbalist Isaac Luria wrote that both orderings of the passages are "correct" and that they have different kabbalistic connotations. When the Vilna Gaon was asked whether both sets should be laid, he responded that there are as many as seventy different opinions as to how the order should be. He ruled that either set was acceptable, but by the same logic, one who lays two sets would imply that one should lay dozens of different sets to comply with all the opinions. He therefore concluded that one should choose one custom and stay with it.

Nowadays the prevailing custom of the majority of Jews is to follow the opinion based on Rashi. Nevertheless, Joseph Karo wrote that the especially pious ought to lay both sets. This was custom was taken on by some, notably the Hasidim who also briefly lay Rabbeinu Tam tefillin. Others simultaneously lay both sets of tefillin on both the head and arm.

Primary differences between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam tefillin

  • Order of the passages of the arm-tefillin

*Rashi: Kadesh Li, Ve-haya Ki Yeviehcha, Shema, Ve-haya Im Shemoa - (according to the chronological order as they appear in the Torah)
*Rabbeinu Tam: Kadesh Li, Ve-haya Ki Yeviehcha, Ve-haya Im Shemoa, Shema

The law requires that the passages are written in their chronological order as they appear in the Torah. Therefore according to Rabbeinu Tam Kadesh Li, Ve-haya Ki Yeviehcha are written first, leaving a section blank and writing Shema as the last section, then filling in the blank space with Ve-haya Im Shemoa

  • Order of the passages of the head-tefillin

The same order is maintained when placing the scrolls in the four compartments of the head-tefillin. The sequence from the first compartment to the left of the wearer is as follows:
*Rashi: Kadesh Li, Ve-haya Ki Yeviehcha, Shema, Ve-haya Im Shemoa
*Rabbeinu Tam: Kadesh Li, Ve-haya Ki Yeviehcha, Ve-haya Im Shemoa, Shema

  • Protrusion of the se'ar eigel

A tuft of the sinew used to sew the tefillin closed is allowed to protrude and the location of this protrusion can help to identify the Rashi from the Rabbeinu Tam tefillin. The tuft protrudes to the wearer's left of the passage of Ve-haya Im Shemoa.
*Rashi: The passage of Ve-haya Im Shemoa is found in the fourth compartment from the left of the wearer, therefore the se’ar eigel juts out between the fourth and third compartment
*Rabbeinu Tam: The passage of Ve-haya Im Shemoa is found in the third compartment from the left of the wearer, therefore the se’ar eigel juts out from between the third and second compartment.

How to lay tefillin

The head tefillin must be placed in a particular area (above the hairline and below the center of the head); they cannot be so big that they cannot possibly be placed there. Some argue that the base should not be smaller than the width of two thumbs (4 - 5 cm). The width of the straps should minimally be equal to the length of a grain of oats (9mm-1 cm) and preferably 11 mm according to the Chazon Ish. The strap that is passed through the head-tefillin must be long enough to encircle the head and to allow for the knot, which must rest mainly on the center of the base of the skull, just above the nape of the neck and not go below the hairline in back. The two ends, falling in front over either shoulder, should reach the navel on the left side and reach the genital area on the right side. The strap that is passed through the arm-tefillin should be long enough to allow for the knot, then to wrap around the forearm 7 times, and around the hand according to family or local tradition.

While the minutia of the knot formation and arm binding differ considerably between different family or community traditions, the placement of the head tefillin is universally accepted to be against the literal directive of the verse in Deuteronomy 11:18 which speaks of placing it 'between the eyes'. This is a result of the gezerah shavah mentioned in Kiddushin 36a brought by Abaye. He expounds that there is a link made between the commandment of tefillin and the commandment against a Kohen making a bald spot on the head out of anguish for someone dying (Deuteronomy 14:1). Because this verse speaks about making a bald spot on the head immediately above the hairline in vertical alignment with the spot between one's eyes, so too does the verse about tefillin speak about this position on the head.

When to lay tefillin

Originally tefillin were worn all day, but not during the night. Nowadays the prevailing custom is to lay them only during the weekday morning service. The problem with laying the tefillin all day is the necessity to remove them when encountering an unclean place, e.g. a bathroom, and the requirement to constantly have in mind the knowledge that they are being worn.

It should be noted that a small minority of Jews still follow the practice of laying tefillin all day long. This is mainly the case by followers of the Vilna Gaon, students of the Rambam, and some Yemenite Jews. They argue that this practice is still required, and not an issue of custom. Other great rabbis, for instance Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg also wear tefillin out of services.

As tefillin are allowed to be worn at any time during the day, Lubavitch hasidim will often be found at all types of religious and secular gatherings and venues hoping to give another Jew the opportunity to lay tefillin. This phenomenon was the wish of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson who launched the "Tefillin Campaign" just before the outbreak of the Six Day War in 1967.

Shabbat and festivals

Tefillin are not laid on Shabbat and the major festivals including Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkoth. The reason given that these holy days are themselves “signs” which render the use of tefillin, which are to serve as “signs” themselves, unnecessary.

Chol HaMoed

On the intermediate days of Pesach and Sukkot, there is a great debate among the major halachic authorities as to whether tefillin should be worn or not. Some rishonim forbid tefillin to be worn on Chol HaMoed as they consider the days have the same status as a festival which in itself constitutes a “sign” making the laying of tefillin unnecessary. Other rishonim argue and hold that Chol HaMoed does not constitute a “sign” in which case tefillin must be worn on Chol HaMoed.

Due to this conflict of opinion there are three existing customs:

  • To refrain from wearing tefillin. The Beth Yosef notes that all Sephardic Jews refrain from wearing tefillin on Chol HaMoed. His ruling is based on kabbalistic reasons. The Zohar strongly advocates refraining from wearing tefillin on Chol HaMoed. Accordingly, the Shulchan Aruch rules that it is forbidden to wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed. This is also the opinion of the Vilna Gaon whose ruling has been universally accepted in Israel.
  • To wear tefillin but to refrain from reciting the blessings. The Tur notes that there are a number of rishonim who are uncertain whether one must wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed and therefore advocates wearing tefillin but refraining from reciting the blessings. The authorities that rule like this include the Ritva, the SeMaG, the Meiri and the Taz. The advantage of this compromise is that one avoids violating very serious transgressions of either not donning tefillin or making a blessing in vain.
  • To wear tefillin and reciting the blessings in an undertone. This is the opinion of the Rama who writes that this is the universally accepted practice among Ashkenazic Jews.

The Mishna Berura recommends that on Chol Hamoed one make a mental stipulation before donning tefillin: If I am obligated to don tefillin I intend to fulfill my obligation and if I am not obligated to don tefillin, my doing so should not be considered as fulfilling any obligation; and that the blessing not be recited. The Aruch Hashulchan writes that a practice among some Ashkenazic Jews has developed to refrain from wearing tefillin on Chol Hamoed. He is referring to the practice of Hasidic Jews whose rituals are inspired by kaballah. Interestingly, this was also the practice at the famed Volozhin yeshiva and of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik.

The majority of those who wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed remove them before the Hallel prayer, unlike on Rosh Chodesh, when the tefillin is removed just prior to the Mussaf prayer. This is out of respect for the festive nature of Chol HaMoed, a festive nature which is especially palpable during the recitation of Hallel. The one exception to this practice is the first day of Chol HaMoed Pesach, when the Torah reading (which follows Hallel) discusses the mitzvah of tefillin. Because the Torah reading on that particular day focuses on the tefillin, those who wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed keep them on during Hallel and the Torah reading, and only remove the tefillin after the Torah reading is completed.

Tisha B'Av

On Tisha B'Av, tefillin are worn at the afternoon service instead. However, many Jews, especially among Ashkenazi and Sepharadi Jerusalemites, do lay tefillin for the morning service as well. There were some medieval authorities who ruled that tefillin must not be laid at all on Tisha B'Av, but it seems that no Jews today follow this opinion.

Who lays tefillin

In Orthodox Judaism tefillin are laid by males over the age of thirteen. Tefillin are a rite-of-passage for a Jewish boy. Youngsters below the age of thirteen are not considered mature enough to know how to use tefillin or understand their significance. About a month before his Bar Mitzvah a boy will receive his own pair of tefillin and be taught and trained about the laying of tefillin. The commandment of tefillin is given the utmost importance and disregard of this mitzvah is viewed as severe. Neglect of this precept is unheard of in Orthodox circles.

There are conflicting views in Orthodox Judaism as to whether women may wear tefillin. The Talmud records that Michal, daughter of King Saul laid tefillin. The Talmud in Eruvin also mentions “Michal daughter of Kushi wore tefillin and the sages did not protest” According to popular legend, Rashi's daughters allegedly wore tefillin, as did the wife of Chaim ibn Attar and the Maiden of Ludmir. Sefer Hachinuch writes that if a women wishes to don tefillin she may and receives heavenly reward for doing so. The 18th century chief rabbis of Jerusalem Rabbi Yisrael Yakov Alghazi and his son Rabbi Yomtov Alghazi encouraged women's use of tefillin.

On the other hand, Mekhilta de-Rebbi Yishmael expounds that just as women are not obligated in the mitzvah of Torah study, so too are they not required to lay tefillin. The Shulchan Aruch writes that since tefillin is an obligation which is time bound, women are exempt. The Kaf hachaim cites Targum Jonathan, who when translating the biblical prohibition of not wearing clothing worn by the opposite gender, interprets this to mean that women are forbidden from wearing tefillin.

The Rama rules for Ashkenazim that even if a woman wishes to be strict upon herself by wearing tefillin, it should be strongly discouraged.

The egalitarian approach of the non-Orthodox branches of Judaism (mostly Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism) is applicable to teffilin and women are encouraged to lay them. In some progressive Modern-Orthodox circles, there is a small but growing group of women who assume the obligation of tefillin or lay them occasionally.

In Karaite Judaism tefillin are not worn in any form. According to the World Karaite Movement, the biblical passages cited for this practice are metaphorical, and mean to "remember the Torah always and treasure it." This is because the commandment in the Torah is "And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart...And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm..." Since words cannot be upon one's heart, or bound upon one's arm, the entire passage is understood metaphorically.

Procedure

''See also: List of Jewish prayers and blessings: Tefillin
It is customary among Ashkenazi Jews to lay and to remove the tefillin while standing. If worn, the talit is donned before the tefillin, and taken off after them.

The arm-tefillin is placed on the biceps of the left arm, two finger breadths away from the elbow joint, with the box facing inward towards the heart. Left-handed people place the arm-tefillin on their right arm. After the blessing is recited, the arm-tefillin is tightened, then wrapped around the arm seven times.

Next, the head-tefillin is placed on top of the head, "between the eyes" but not lower than the hairline (or where one's hairline was in his youth). The knot of the head-tefillin sits at the back of the head, upon the part of the occipital bone that protrudes just above the nape, directly opposite the optic chiasm.

Sephardic and Hasidic authorities are of the opinion that the blessing on laying the head-tefillin is not necessary and the one blessing on laying the arm-tefillin is sufficient. Ashkenazim, who do recite a second blessing on the head-tefillin, first leave the head-tefillin resting loosely on the head, and tighten it in place only after saying the blessing.

The two straps of the head-tefillin are brought in front of the shoulders, with their blackened side facing outwards. The remainder of the arm-tefillin straps are then wound three times around the middle finger and around the hand so as to form the shape of the Hebrew letter shin (ש). This is traditionally accompanied by the recitation of .

Sephardim proceed similarly. The Sephardic method of wrapping results in a dalet (ד) shape on the palm of the hand and a shin around the middle finger, so as to represent the name Shaddai from the middle finger (ש) through the palm (ד) to the knot (י) hanging from the box of the arm-tefillin.

On removing the tefillin the three twistings on the middle finger are loosened first; then the head-tefillin is removed; and finally the arm-tefillin.

There is a custom to cover the arm-tefillin with the sleeve, in accordance with the verse "And they will be a sign to you...", i.e. to you and not to others.

Significance

The opinion of Rav Sheshet in the Talmud is that by neglecting the performance of tefillin, one transgresses eight positive commandments.

Tefillin are mentioned over 500 times in the Talmud. Their use and manufacture are steeped in mystical significance. The shin embossed on the box of the head-tefillin, the letter dalet formed by the strap knot of the head-tefillin together with the yud knot of the arm-tefillin, make up the Hebrew word Shaddai, one of the names of God in Judaism. The biblical passages inside the boxes are declarations of the belief in God and God's connection to this world.

The Rambam/Maimonides counts the commandment of laying the arm-tefillin and head-tefillin as two separate positive mitzvot. In his Mishneh Torah, Rambam concludes the rules of tefillin with the following exhortation :

"The sanctity of tefillin is very great. As long as the tefillin are on the head and on the arm of a man, he is modest and God-fearing and will not be attracted by hilarity or idle talk, and will have no evil thoughts, but will devote all his thoughts to truth and righteousness; Therefore, every man ought to try to have the tefillin upon him the whole day; for only in this way can he fulfill the commandment. It is related that Rav, the pupil of our holy teacher, was never seen to walk four cubits without a Torah, without fringes on his garments, and without tefillin. Although the tradition enjoins laying tefillin all day, it is especially commendable to lay them during prayer. The sages say that one who reads the Shema without tefillin is as if he testified falsely against himself. He who does not lay tefillin transgresses eight commandments; for in each of the four biblical passages there is a commandment to lay tefillin on the head and on the arm. But he who is accustomed to lay tefillin will live long, as it is written, 'When the is upon them they will live'".

A report of widespread negligence and non observance of tefillin is found in Rabbi Moses of Coucy’s Sefer Mitzvot Gedolot, a book that outlines and comments on the 613 commandments of the Torah. In his discussion on the commandment to love God, he refers to tefillin as one of the necessary tools to love God. He concludes his section on loving God by relating his experience in Spain in the year 1236 CE. In Spain, he chastised the local Jews for their irreverent behaviour and in particular their negligence in laying tefillin and writes that he succeeded in convincing thousands of Jews to repent and lay tefillin.

The arm and head wrappings of the tefillin straps have been claimed to correlate to acupuncture points for enhancing one's mental and spiritual health.

See also

References

External links

Further reading

  • Eider, Shimon D Halachos of Tefillin, Feldheim Publishers (2001) ISBN 1-58330-483-5
  • Emanuel, Moshe Shlomo Tefillin: The Inside Story, Targum Press (1995) ISBN 1-56871-090-9
  • Neiman, Moshe Chanina Tefillin: An Illustrated Guide, Feldheim Publishers (1995) ISBN 0-87306-711-8


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