Tefillin – discover all there is to know about them

The commandment of tefillin is both symbolic and spiritual. It is a ritual performed by Jewish men as part of their morning prayer and is meant to help protect against sin during prayer. If you have a question, I guarantee you will find the answer here, let’s get started…



A literal translation of word into action

The commandment of tefillin is described in the Bible as follows: “And you shall bind them as a sign on your arm, and they shall be as frontlets on your head between your eyes”. The ritual is performed just as described, we bind two cases to our body, one to the head and the other to the arm. The act is done as part of the Morning Prayer on the weekdays.


The precious set of cases


If you ever saw or used teffilin (phylacteries) then you probably know they are made of two black leather cases. Within these special cases is cradled the text from which their commandment originates


Curious to take a look inside?


Peeking inside the tefillin boxes you will find small pieces of parchment inscribed with chapters from the Torah. These are quotations of the four places where this mitzvah is mentioned: Deut.6:4-9; Deut. 11:13-21; Exodus 13:1-10; and Exodus 13:11-16.


How does it work?


The act of strapping on tefillin revolves around the two cases. It’s performed in the exact way the words command us: we bind the two cases to our body. One case, Shel Rosh is bound to the head (between the eyes) the other, Shel Yad is bound to the arm (biceps).


Why were these specific places chosen?


You must have guessed each place has a specific meaning… Let’s begin with the arm. Strapping the case to the arm is to remind you of God’s “strong arm” that refers to the miracle He performed when taking the Jews out of Egypt.


But this is not all – there is another matter concerning the heart


When placing the case on your arm, you place it close to you heart. This is to control your desires and thoughts and redirect them towards performing the Service you are commanded to perform.


Now what about the head?


Binding the tefillin between the eyes is to control your thoughts and senses and focus them towards performing the Service.


Let’s move on to the user guide, I have tips that may come in handy!


The tefillin are delicate and may cost up to several hundred dollars. It’s important to take good care of them so they can last for years. Before learning the correct way to use your tefillin, here are some helpful tips on how to handle them:


1. Can I use an incomplete set?


If for any reason you have only one half of the set (whether it is the one for the head or the one for the arm), don’t get rid of it! You can still use the single case by placing it in the relevant place and reciting the relevant blessing.


2. Taking care of the leather


Since the Tefillin are made of delicate leather, you must keep it safe from things that can damage it, such as moisture and extreme temperatures. Keep your set out of the sun, far from water and in a cool place, such as a bedroom closet.


3. Another thing regarding the leather


Avoid pulling and stretching the straps when wrapping them around the cases. You may inadvertently stretch the leather and cause the paint on the straps to crack. According to the Jewish Law the straps must be entirely black, and if the paint cracks your set may become invalid.


The tefillin user friendly guide


If you are ready to learn how to use your teffilin set, you have come to the right place! Click this link to find the ultimate user guide , it will take you through the process step by step.


Purchasing Teffilin – good preparation will save you lots of headaches


There are several laws regarding the correct way to manufacture tefillin. For example: the text must be written with specific ink, on special parchment, each letter must be formed according to exact details and the housings must be perfectly square.


Not every craftsman can be trusted to follow these requirements


Just like with the mezuzah , not every craftsman is familiar with these ideas. When going to buy your set, inquire beforehand about the craftsman, make sure he is familiar with these laws and that he can be trusted to make the tefillin correctly.


After buying your set you still need to be aware…


It is important to get your tefillin checked at least once every four years. But, if you see anything wrong with them (like chipped paint for example) you should get them checked immediately.


Keep in mind that there are various levels of quality


Prices range according to the level of quality . The more expensive tefillin are usually of better quality and will last longer. They are also preferred by the Talmod.


Despite this idea


You should choose the tefillin that you are able to buy – as long as they were created correctly they are OK! Teffilin come in several different sizes, usually according to the date and place of origin. They begin from about 1 cm (1/2 inch) and range up to 5 cm (2 inches).

Do you want to see some beautiful phylactery sets?

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