INSIGHT: Tefillin on the Go

The Tefillin Wrap

The Tefillin Wrap

“Keep the Mitzvah of Tefillin!” Moshe continued in VaHayah Im Shomo’ah. “Tefillin are made up of two small boxes attached to black leather straps. Each of the two boxes contains the first two sections of Shema Yisrael and VaHayah Im Shomo’ah together with another two sections.”

“That’s a total of four sections.”

“Boy… you sure are a mathematical genius!”

“Use the straps to bind one of these boxes on your hand, for it is the Shel Yad, the ‘hand Tefillin.’ Position it on your left arm opposite your heart, the center of your emotions. Place the other one, the Shel Rosh, the ‘head Tefillin’ on your head, the center of intellect. Remember, serving HaShem requires both your heart and your mind.”

“Okay! My heart and mind are both all set to serve HaShem!”

“Only the heart and mind? My legs are running to get the Tefillin and my arms are wrapping the straps!”

Tefillin, called phylacteries in English, are worn every weekday. Most Jews who wear Tefillin do so during Shacharis – morning prayers – which usually lasts anywhere from a half hour to an hour.

On the other hand, there were some great people who wore Tefillin the whole day long!

The author of the Hagahos Maimonios relates in the name of Rav Amram Gaon, who lived around 1,200 years ago:

We saw the Geonim, the heads of the court, and the giants of the previous generations… who would not remove their Tefillin until after the Shema of the evening service.

But it’s not only the “giants of the previous generations.” Nowadays, believe it or not, if you go to Yerushalayim you may see a few people wearing Tefillin throughout the entire day. But you’ll have to look closely, since in order not to draw attention to themselves, they may hide the Shel-Rosh under a hat and the Shel-Yad under their jacket.

Wearing Tefillin is an important Mitzvah every single day of the week… almost. Surprisingly, on the holiest day of the week, Shabbos, you won’t catch anyone wearing Tefillin! No reminder needed on that day to be holy. After all, we spend pretty much all day doing holy Shabbos stuff (and eating some awesome, delicious Shabbos food!).

Shazak insight

Tefillin on the Go

Tefillin – it’s a big, BIG Mitzvah! But not every Jew has the knowledge or Jewish educational background to appreciate this Mitzvah and dedicate so much time to prayers while wearing Tefillin. And what about the Jewish soldiers going to battle with only a few minutes to do anything not war related, if at all? Would they miss the chance of putting on Tefillin?

Well, although it’s certainly ideal to wear Tefillin during prayers, the good news is that this Mitzvah can be accomplished without the prayers – by merely putting the Tefillin on your hand and head.

Indeed, ever since the miraculous 6-day-war was won in Israel (in 1967), and the Jews once again had control of the Western Wall, a.k.a. Kosel HaMaaravi, a Tefillin-booth was set up there. Tourists from all over the world, soldiers, students, and all Jewish males over Bar Mitzvah were given the opportunity to put on Tefillin. 1… 2… 3… put on the Shel Yad, then the Shel Rosh, say the all-important Shema in whatever language they know best, and it’s the Mitzvah of Tefillin. For many Jews it was their first time ever putting on Tefillin but certainly not their last! As our Sages say, Mitzvah Goreres Mitzvah – one Mitzvah “schleps” (or leads to) another Mitzvah.

This Tefillin booth idea caught on, and now they can be found all over the world, in all shapes and forms… there are even mobile homes “converted” into Tefillin booths, bringing this Mitzvah to Jews wherever they are… college campuses, events or you name it!

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Did you know learning Torah could be this much fun?
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