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Tefillin – What are Tefillin? How to Bind Them?

What are Tefillin?

  • The Tefillin are are an essential part of morning prayer services, and are worn on a daily basis (except on Shabbat and Jewish holidays) by religious Jewish men above the age of 13 years.
  • Tefillin, also called phylacteries, consist of two palm-sized leather boxes painted jet black, which contain sacred parchment writings in Hebrew. Long leather straps allow the teffilin to be tied, one on the arm and one on the head.
  • Tefillin stems from the traditional interpretation of passages found in the Torah. Deuteronomy 6:8 says:“You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead”

    and Exodus 13:9 says:

    “And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt”

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    Bar Mitzvah Teffilin from Israel

    Tefillin are intricate works of handicraft, and are created under a set of rigorous standards and guidelines by highly trained scribes and craftsmen.

  • The duty of laying tefillin is obligatory for Jewish men and women are exempt. Nevertheless early Jewish traditions allowed women to lay tefillin. There is a legend that Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin, and so did Michal, the daughter of King Saul and the wife of King David, but this custom was generally discouraged. Amongst the non-Orthodox, women are encouraged to lay tefillin just as men are.

How to Bind the Tefillin?

  • Have someone to show you how to put the Tefillin. Usually it is the BM child’s Rabbi that is the instructor.
  • Learning how to do it “online” would be very difficult. Get someone to teach and show you. Even after that, it takes lots of practice to get comfortable with putting the teffilin.
  • Righties put tefillin on the left arm. If you’re a lefty, you will purchase “lefty tefillin,” so just reverse the instructions.
  • If you still want to learn online how to do it, check this How to Put the Teffilin Guide.