Bible tells us "And
you shall bind them as a sign on your arm, and they shall
be as frontlets on your head between your eyes" (Deuteronomy
6:8.) This is the good-deed of phylactery, though of
course the details are much more complex than that. The Torah
tells us in four places that we should bind the phylactery.
The four places are: Deut.6:4-9; Deut. 11:13-21; Exodus
13:1-10; and Exodus 13:11-16. Each of these places is a separate
chapter in the Torah
Therefore, each of these chapters are written on small pieces
of parchment and placed into leather housings, which a man
places on the arm and the head, along with special leather
straps. They contain the four chapters from the Torah in which
the Mitzvah of tefillin is stated. Those chapters discuss
how God, Whose Name is blessed, is One, and only One, in the
entire universe. Those chapters also discuss the miracles
and wonders that God did for us when He took us out of Egypt.
They discuss how God alone has the power and the dominion
to do whatever God wants in the physical world and in the
spiritual world. God commanded us to put tefillin on our arms
to remember the "strong arm" (which refers to the
powerful and cataclysmic changes in nature that God performed
for us when He took us out of Egypt).
The tefillin on our arms is near the heart to control the
lusts and thoughts of our hearts and redirect them towards
performing the Service we are commanded to perform for God,
Whose Name is blessed. The tefillin on our heads is near the
brain, so that the spiritual elements in our brains, as well
as our senses and all our abilities, should all be controlled
and redirected towards performing the Service we are commanded
to perform for God, Whose Name is blessed. May the performance
of the Mitzvah of tefillin influence me and bestow upon me
They must be written with in Jewish law acceptable ink, on
in Jewish law acceptable parchment. Each letter must be formed
according to specific and exacting details. If only one point
on one letter is slightly rounded off when it should be pointed,
the entire pair of tefillin is invalid.
The housings must be perfectly square when viewed from the
top. Even the stitches that keep the housing closed must be
square when viewed from above, and may be done only with correct
Jewish law acceptable kosher animal sinews. The letters must
all be written in order. If a letter has been written incorrectly,
it cannot be fixed out of sequence. Sometimes one bad letter
can invalidate an entire pair of tefillin.
Since there are so many Laws about tefillin, one should buy
them only from an honest Jew who knows the Laws, and can be
trusted to make them correctly. A dishonest man might find
a problem, and fix it incorrectly, just to save money. Therefore
we must be very careful from whom we buy our tefillin. When
you go to buy tefillin, be aware that there are various levels
of quality in tefillin. This is not a scam. The more expensive
ones are actually better, and they will also last longer.
They are also more preferred, the Talmud says, because they
are created with a greater adherence to various spiritual
concepts. But you should get what you are ready, willing and
able to buy. Get your tefillin checked periodically -- at
least once every four years, preferably once a year if possible.
Any other time, if you see something wrong, such as the housings
bending slightly, or paint chipping or cracking, get your
tefillin checked immediately.
If for some reason you have only one half of the set, whether
it be only the one for the head, or only the one for the arm,
put that one on and recite only the blessing for that one.
II. When putting on tefillin it is very important to have
a clean body. In addition to general cleanliness, one must
be especially careful to be clean after going to the bathroom.
Someone who has no control over what comes out of his body
is forbidden to wear tefillin. Anyone in that situation
should discuss it with his Rabbi to find out when and how
he may wear tefillin.
One should go to the bathroom before putting on the tefillin,
or at least be absolutely sure he will not have to go while
wearing the tefillin. If while wearing tefillin you feel
the need to go, you must remove the tefillin and go.
If you feel the need to pass gas while wearing tefillin,
you must first remove your tefillin.
Never take tefillin or any holy item into a bathroom. While
wearing tefillin, one should only clean thoughts. As well
as speaking out loud.
We may not wear tefillin at night.
We do not put on tefillin on the Sabbath.
While putting on Tefillin, one may not talk from the first
blessing through the Statement.[Until Step C, see below]
One who is right-handed binds the tefillin on his left arm;
one who is a lefty binds the tefillin on his right arm.
(Same style just opposite sides.)
Tefillin should be put on your weaker hand. If you are right-handed,
use your right hand to put your tefillin on your left hand.
If you are left-handed, use your left hand to put tefillin
on your right hand. If you are ambidextrous, ask your Rabbi,
because each case is different. If you are unable to contact
a Rabbi for some reason, assume in the interim that the
hand with which you write is your stronger hand (for this
purpose, at least).
Always treat your tefillin with the greatest of respect
and reverence. Do not remove them from the bag by shaking
them out of the bag, for example. Always take them out carefully,
and put them back carefully. Tefillin are made of leather.
That means that you must keep them safe from things that
hurt leather, like moisture and extreme temperatures.
is a guide to putting on the tefillin. It will be much
easier to have a live person showing you the first time
words cannot equal the real thing. The presentation and
video displayed, is a right-handed fellow who binds the
tefillin on the left arm, one who is a lefty binds the
same process vice versa on the right arm. There are some
different customs of the bindings, the presentation here
is the basic Ashkenazi custom. Any Jew can perform the
deed using this custom.
general name for phylactery.
black box that sits on the head
Black box that sits on the arm/biceps
Black box in general
(Sephardic Jews and Married
Ashkenazi Jews shall
We start with
the hand. We
never start with the head, so if you accidentally
take out the shel Rosh
(the tefillin for the head) first, put it aside and
take out the shel yad (the tefillin for the hand).
2. When putting
on tefillin or taking
tefillin off, Ashkenazi Jews stand, Sephardic Jews
sit. While putting on
may not talk from after the first blessing through
the Statement. (Until
Step C, see below)
roll up left sleeve (leftys roll up right sleeve,
same process vice versa on right arm), make sure you
take off rings and watches on that hand. Unwrap
the straps and take the shel yad carefully out of
the loop very wide, and slide back the shel yad until
center of your biceps.
for Shel Yad
loop to the side of the body
for Shel Yad before the 1st blessing
Tighten the loop.
wrapping the strap around your hand,
wrap once around your biceps and seven times
around your lower arm. Stop at palm, and wrap the
remainder of the strap around your palm.
Do not wrap the strap around your fingers yet.
the shel Rosh from bag, unwrap the straps, and
take it out of the box carefully.
Place the shel
Rosh on your head just before the hairline
The knot should be behind your head - just above your
and the strap should be lying loosely on your head.
the straps around your head, by
pulling them down at the sides
from front to back.
Recite the statement
is his name, whose glorious kingdom is
forever and ever
Shem Kvod Malchuso Leolam Vaed
See Step C Live
Resume wrapping the strap of the shel yad.
the strap from your palm,
as the strap comes from
off the Tefillin
1. Unwrap the straps
from your fingers,
and rap it around your fist.
2. Take off the
Shel Rosh, wrap in box and place it away.
Take off the Shel Yad, wrap in box and place
(4. Take off the tallit)
you wrap your tefillin away.. do not pull the straps
tightly around the boxes. Leather can stretch a little,
but the paint on the straps cannot stretch without cracking.
The straps must be entirely black, according to the
Jewish Law, any cracks on the straps it could become