Tefillin – the Crown of Jewish Uniqueness
What are the Tefillin?
The Talmud calls the Tefillin (תפלין) the Crown of the Jewish uniqueness. The Tefillin is worn on the left forearm, closer to the heart (to focus one’s emotions) and on the head (to focus one’s mind), by this dedicating your emotions and mind to the service of Gd. Tefillin strap is wound from the palm of the hand to the shoulder, showing that everything you do is also devoted to G-d.
Putting on the Tefillin is the first commandment with which the 13-year-old Jewish boy enters his to adulthood. By putting on the Tefillin every day, a man acknowledges his belonging to the Judaism. This commandment could be performed every day before sunset, in any place.
Tefillin and its significance
The commandment of Tefillin is one of the most important commandments in the Torah. Jewish people cherish it and observe it for several millennia. In the Torah, this commandment is mentioned several times, but most of it is clearly stated in the book of Deuteronomy 6:6-8: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”
Tefillin are a set of two leather boxes, with leather strips threaded through them. Each of them contents a hand-written parchment with four fragments from the Torah:
1) “Shema” (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9) – A declaration of the faith and devotion to One Gd;
2) “Veayya” (Deuteronomy 11: 13-21) – speaks about reward for obeying the Torah lows and punishment for their violation.
3) “Kadesh” (Exodus 3: 1-10) – the duty of the Jew to remember their delivery from slavery in Egypt:
4) “Veayya” (Exodus 13: 11-16) – the obligation of every Jew to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt to their children.
Wearing the Tefillin
One of the boxes should be placed on the left arm, in front of the heart – the source of emotions. The leather strap is wound around the left wrist and middle finger all the way up the arm. The other box is fixed on the forehead so the attention is focused on the wearer’s mind. Tefilling teaches us to devote all our thoughts, feelings and actions to G-d.
The location of the boxes is very important as it brings the prayer’s attention to the head, hand and heart. Tefilling teaches us to devote all our thoughts, feelings and actions to G-d. Furthermore, it helps the wearer to achieve the unity of mind, heart and action, intellect and emotion.