Tefillin & Tefillin SetsIn Judaism, one who comes of age begins wearing Tefillin. We perform this commandment by placing black boxes and straps on our arms and on our heads. In the past, Tefillin were worn all day. Today, Tefillin are worn during prayers services in the synagogue, similar to Tallit Prayer Shawls.
Tefillin consist of leather boxes with straps. The boxes are black, as are the straps. Depending on whether it is Tefillin for the head or arm, there will either be four pieces of parchment in the box or just one large piece of parchment. The arm Tefillin has one large piece of parchment inside the box. Attached to the box is a long black strap with a knot on one of the sides and the placement of the loop will be based on whether the wearer is left or right-handed. The head Tefillin have four very obvious compartments on them and like arm Tefillin, there is a leather strap that goes through the box. The difference here is that the knot is at the end of a loop which secures the Tefillin to the head. This knot is usually in the shape of a Daled or a box. The parchment has sections of the Torah written on it.
There are differing opinions as to the order of the text written on the parchment and this reflects the main options when purchasing Tefillin. The two opinions are that of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam.
We at World of Judaica invite you to browse our gallery of authentic leather Tefillin. If you would like to learn more about Tefillin and their significance in Judaism, visit our education centre. If you have any questions regarding the status of the parchment, Contact Us and we will be happy to address your concerns.
Tefillin and Tefillin Sets Guide
Tefillin - phylacteries in Latin and English - is one of the commandments, or Mitzvot, that a Jewish man performs during the day. This Mitzvah, which consists of wearing leather boxes and straps, has numerous rules and is also considered to be a symbol of closeness to G-d and a reminder of G-d’s redemption of the Jews from Egypt.
What are Tefillin?
The term Tefillin refers the sets of two black boxes and straps that Jewish men wear on their head and arm following their Bar Mitzvah during prayer services during the week, although it may also refer to a single box and strap. Many Rabbinical leaders wear Tefillin throughout the day.
Materials and Construction
Tefillin are made from the hide of a kosher animal, usually a cow and are painted black. The boxes are inserted with parchment that has sections of the Torah that refer to the Mitzvah of Tefillin written on it in Hebrew script known as Stam and is the font also used in Torah Scrolls and Mezuzahs. It should be noted that the ordering of the text inside the Tefillin is the subject of a complicated rabbinical dispute between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam, two mediaeval commentators on the Torah. Their dispute has led to two different traditions regarding Tefillin. All Jews follow the opinion of Rashi, although Chassidim also wear those in accordance with Rabbeinu Tam’s ruling.
A set of Tefillin consists of two boxes. The first box is known as the Shel-Yad, or “Hand Tefillin” and is placed on the arm not used for writing, which means that a left-handed person wears his Shel-Yad on his right arm and a right-handed person wears his Tefillin Shel Yad on the left arm. The hand-Tefillin box has one large compartment in which a long piece of parchment is inserted. The other box is known as the Shel-Rosh, or “Head Tefillin” and has an identical shape to the hand-Tefillin. However, it has four separate compartments, each of which is inserted with a section of the Torah that speaks of Tefillin.
The straps run through the back of the Tefillin boxes and are painted black on their front side. The straps are also knotted; on the hand Tefillin the knot appears on the left or right side, depending on which hand the person writes with and the head-Tefillin knot is directly opposite the Tefillin box.
The Commandment of Wearing Tefillin
The Mitzvah of Tefillin is a complicated one, mainly because the rules regarding its construction are quite intricate and the rules regarding its wearing are equally complex. According to normative Jewish tradition, Tefillin are worn during prayer services during the week. They are not worn during Shabbat or days in which work is forbidden, specifically Jewish holidays.
In terms of the wearing of Tefillin, the hand Tefillin are put on first. The box sits atop the bicep and the straps are wrapped around the arm seven times and around the hand. The head-Tefillin box sits above the forehead and the knot sits on the nape of the neck.