Tefillin

Tefillin

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Tefillin (phylacteries in English) play a hugely significant role in the life of a young Jew. Traditionally worn from just before a boy hits Bar Mitzvah, the boxes are filled with parchment scrolls, hand-scribed with verses from the Torah and accompanied by a set of supple leather straps. Parents or grandparents have customarily gifted the young man with tefillin ahead of his special day, and the holy boxes will stay with him throughout his life.

Judaica Webstore offers both Ashkenazi and Sefardi tefillin, which maintains the difference in the handwriting in the scrolls stored within the boxes, the letter Shin on the box, and the knot on the arm is places for a different wrapping style.

There is a wide variety of tefillin bags to choose from here. Not only does this offer protection and a means to store two separate tefillin together—both good advice and in line with Jewish law—but it is a means to beautify this daily mitzvah and adds a personal flare. The selection of mirrors on offer also give a practical way to check the head-tefillin while adding decoration.

You can read more about finding the perfect Tefillin here.

We’ve addressed your frequently asked tefillin questions below.

What Exactly Are Tefillin?

Tefillin are two black leather boxes with leather straps attached to them, one for the arm and one for the head. The tefillin box for the head is placed at the hairline, with the straps hanging over the front of the wearer. Tefillin boxes contain parchments written by a trained sofer stam (a scribe skilled in writing Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzahs). The arm tefillin contains one piece of parchment inscribed with the four scriptural references to the commandment of tefillin (Exodus 13:9, Exodus 13:16, Deuteronomy 6:8 and Deuteronomy 11:18) while the head tefillin contains the verses on four separate pieces of parchment.

Donning Tefillin

The tefillin box for the arm is placed on the forearm, with the attached strap wound seven times around the arm and tied around the hand. It should be noted that the arm-tefillin always goes on the non-dominant arm, and special left-handed tefillin (to place on the right arm) are available. Nowadays these are usually just worn for praying in the morning (Shacharit) during the weekdays. A boy starts wearing his tefillin shortly before he is Bar Mitzvah, in order to practice this daily mitzvah.

Where Does The Commandment of Tefillin Come From?

Tefillin are referenced four times throughout the Torah (Exodus 13:9, Exodus 13:16, Deuteronomy 6:8 and Deuteronomy 11:18). The Jewish people are first commanded to wear tefillin as a sign upon their arms and between their eyes soon after the exodus from Egypt – even before the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.

What Is The Purpose of Tefillin?

Based on the wording of the commandments in the Torah, it is understood that tefillin are meant to serve as a constant reminder of God's actions in bringing the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Because Shabbat and biblical holidays serve the same function, no one wears tefillin on those days. Ask your Rabbi if your community wears them in the intermediate days of Pesach and Sukkot.

Are All Tefillin The Same?

Different communities, the two largest being Ashkenazic and Sefardic, have nuanced differences. It is best to follow your community’s customs, but both are kosher and available here.

Does Tefillin Need To Be Kosher?

Yes, there are certain standards which Tefillin have to meet in order to be considered kosher and fit for use. For instance, the Tefillin verses need to be written properly on a parchment made from a kosher animal and with kosher ink. As well, the Tefillin boxes need to be a certain shape and the scribe needs to prepare himself spiritually before beginning his work. Judaica Webstore are proud to offer a variety of certifiably kosher Tefillin from the Land of Israel that you will enjoy using for many years to come.

Now that you have a better understanding of the wonderful ritual of tefillin, you can explore the various options for tefillin and tefillin bags featured on our website.