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Sunday, 21 Adar 5773 / March 3, 2013

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Two, Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Three, Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Four

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Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Two

Halacha 1

In what manner are the tefillin [placed on] the head written? [The] four passages are written on four parchments and rolled closed, each as a separate entity. They are placed in four compartments, which are covered by a single piece of leather.

The four passages of [the tefillin placed on] the arm are written on four columns on a single parchment. They should be rolled closed like a Torah scroll from the end to the beginning and placed in a single compartment.

Halacha 2

Care must be taken in writing these passages. If one wrote a passage which should be s'tumah as p'tuchah or a passage which should be p'tuchah as s'tumah, it is invalid.

The first three passages are all p'tuchot, while the final passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, is s'tumah.

Halacha 3

One must be careful regarding [the spelling of the words in these passages] with regard to the short or full form. [The manner in which] these four passages are written [in tefillin] should resemble the manner they are written in a Torah scroll that has been checked [for accuracy in this regard].

When one writes a word which requires a short form using a full form, it is invalid until one erases the extra letter. If one writes a word which requires a full form using a short form, it is invalid and may not be corrected.

These are [the correct spellings of the words that could present difficulties] with regard to the short and full forms in these four passages.

Halacha 4

[In] the first passage, Kadesh li kol b'chor, [the word] b'chor [is written using] the full form; the word zachor [using] the full form; the word b'chozek [using] the short form; the word hotzi [using] the full form; the word yotzi'em without a vav; the word y'viacha [using] the full form; the word v'ha'emori [using] the short form; the word v'hay'vusi [using] the full form; the word la'avotecha without a vav; the word ha'avodah [using] the short form; the word matzot [using] the short form; the word hash'vi'i [using] the full form; the word matzot [using] the full form; the word s'or [using] the short form; the word g'vulecha [using] the short form; the word ba'avur [using] the full form; the word l'ot [using] the full form; the word ul'zikaron [using] the full form; the word einecha [using] the full form; the word torat [using] the full form; the word hotziacha without a yud; the word hachukkah [using] the short form; and the word l'moadah [using] the full form.

Halacha 5

[In] the second passage, V'hayah ki y'viacha, [the word] y'viacha [is written] without a yud; the word chamor [using] the short form; the word b'chor [using] the full form; the word b'chozek [using] the short form; the word hotzianu [using] the full form; the word vayaharog [using] the short form; the word b'chor [using] the full form; the word mib'chor [using] the short form; the words v'ad b'chor [using] the full form; the word zove'ach without a vav; the word b'chor in v'chol b'chor [using] the full form; the word l'ot [using] the full form; the word yadecha is written with a hey; the word ul'totafot without the final vav; the word einecha [using] the full form; the word b'chozek [using] the short form; and the word hotzianu [using] the full form.

Halacha 6

[In] the third passage, Shema, the ayin of [the word] Shema and the dalet of [the word] echad are enlarged.

The word m'odecha [is written using] the short form; the word l'vanecha [using] the full form; the wordb'vetecha without a second yud; the word uv'kumecha [using] the full form; the word l'ot [using] the full form; the word yadecha [using] the short form; the word l'totafot without both vavim; the word einecha [using] the full form; the word mezuzot without the first vav; the word beitecha without a second yud; the word uvish'arecha [using] the full form.

Halacha 7

[In] the fourth passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, [the word] shamo'a [is written using] the short form; the word mitzvotai with only one vav; the word yoreh [using] the full form; the word umalkosh [using] the full form; the word v'tiroshcha without a vav; the word v'hishtachavitem [using] the full form; the word y'vulah [using] the full form; the word hatovah [using] the short form; the word notein [using] the short form; the word otam [using] the short form; the word l'ot [using] the full form; the word l'totafot lacking the second vav; the word einechem [using] the full form; the word otam [using] the short form; the wordb'vetecha without a second yud; the word uv'kumecha [using] the full form; the word mezuzot [using] the full form; the word beitecha without a second yud; the word uvish'arecha [using] the full form; the word la'avoteichem without a vav.

Halacha 8

Care must be taken regarding the placement of crowns on the letters. They are formed like [small] zeiynin on the [tops of the] letters which possess crowns as in a Torah scroll. These are the letters which possess crowns in these four passages.

Halacha 9

There is only one letter [with a crown] in the first passage: the final mem of miyamim. There are three zeiynin upon it. In the second passage, there are five letters [with crowns]. Each of these is a heh, and four zeiynin are placed on each of them. They are: the heh of un'tanah, the first and final heh in the word hikshah, the heh of vayaharog, and the heh of yadecha.

In the third passage, there are five letters [with crowns.] They are: the kof of uv'kumecha; it has three zeiynin; the kof of uk'shartam; it has three zeiynin; the two tetim and the pei of l'totafot; each of these letters has four zeiynin.

In the fourth passage, there are five letters [with crowns.] They are: the peh of v'asafta; it has three zeiynin; the tov of v'asafta has one zayin; the two tetim and the peh of l'totafot; each of these letters has four zeiynin.

There are a total of sixteen letters which require crowns. If one did not place crowns above them, added other crowns, or reduced the number of zeiynin, the passages are not invalid.

Halacha 10

A person who purchases tefillin from a person who is not an expert is required to inspect them. If he purchased 100 tefillin, he should inspect three, either two head tefillin and one arm tefillin, or two arm tefillin and one head tefillin. If he finds them acceptable, [from this time onward,] he can assume the scribe [to be proficient]. Thus, they are all considered to be acceptable and need not be checked.

If, however, one purchases them in different packages, they must all be checked, because it can be presumed that each package was purchased from a different scribe.

Halacha 11

After a person writes tefillin himself, purchases them from an expert, or purchases them from another person and has them inspected, and places them in their leather [compartments], they need not ever be checked again.

As long as their compartments are intact, they are assumed to be acceptable even though several years have passed. We do not suspect that a letter has faded out or been perforated. Hillel the elder stated: "These [tefillin] are from my maternal grandfather."

Commentary Halacha 1

In what manner are the tefillin [placed on] the head written? [The] four passages - mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 1: Kadesh Li (Exodus 13:1-10), V'hayah ki y'viacha (Exodus 13:11-16), Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-8), and V'hayah im shamo'a (Deuteronomy 11:13-21).

are written on four parchments - Menachot 34b explains that the word totafot, with which the Torah refers to the head tefillin, is a combination of the Carthaginian and African terms for two. Since two and two equals four, the word thus means "a four-sectioned ornament."

and rolled closed - more precisely, folded closed. Though in this halachah, the Rambam mentions only the tefillin of the arm, the parchments in the tefillin of the head are also folded from the end to the beginning, so that when they are opened, one begins reading at the beginning (Chapter 3, Halachah 7).

each as a separate entity. They are placed in four compartments, which are covered by a single piece of leather. - See Chapter 3, Halachah 2, for a description of how these tefillin are made.

Menachot, loc. cit., derives this concept from the fact that Exodus 13:9 refers to the head tefillin as "a remembrance," using a singular form of the word. This teaches that all four passages must appear as a single entity, "one remembrance."

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Keilim 18:8), the Rambam also mentions tefillin of the head in which four separate compartments are sewn together. Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:58 and the Mishnah Berurah 32:172 write that tefillin made in this manner or by gluing the four compartments together are acceptable. They nevertheless suggest that it is preferable to purchase tefillin that are made from a single piece of leather.

[At present, frequently, tefillin which are made from four compartments that are either sewn or glued together are referred to as peshutot and sold for a substantially lower price than tefillin made from a single piece of leather. The difficulty in purchasing them extends beyond one's willingness to opt for the more lenient opinion mentioned in the above sources. Since most halachic authorities advise accepting the more stringent view, most careful scribes do not use these peshutot. Thus, it is likely that they will have other problems as well.]

The four passages of [the tefillin placed on] the arm are written on four columns on a single parchment. - They may, however, be written on four separate parchments, which are later glued together (Menachot, loc. cit.).

They should be rolled closed like a Torah scroll from the end to the beginning and placed in a single compartment. - Menachot, loc. cit., derives this concept from the exegesis of Exodus, loc. cit.: "And they shall be a sign for you on your hand." The verse implies that just as the tefillin's external appearance is as a single sign, so too, internally, they should be a single entity.

Commentary Halacha 2

Care must be taken in writing these passages. If one wrote a passage which should be s'tumah - As the Rambam explains at length in Chapter 8, there are two general categories for the passages of the Torah, s'tumah and p'tuchah.

S'tumah means "closed." It refers to a passage whose first word is always written in the middle of a line in the Torah. (See Chapter 8, Halachah 2.)

as p'tuchah - P'tuchah means "open." It refers to a passage whose first word is always written at the beginning of a line in the Torah. See Chapter 8, Halachah 1.

or a passage which should be p'tuchah as s'tumah, it is invalid. - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 32:36) quotes an opinion which explains that the tefillin are not disqualified for such an error. Since there is a difference between tefillin and a Torah scroll - in a Torah scroll, there are many other passages between Shema and V'hayah im shamo'a - the tefillin are not disqualified if V'hayah im shamo'a is written as p'tuchah. Contemporary Ashkenazic practice is based on this opinion. [Note our commentary on Chapter 5, Halachah 2.]

The first three passages are all p'tuchot - For this reason, the first two passages should be written in a manner in which they end at least nine letters before the end of the column (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 32:36).

while the final passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, is s'tumah. - As is explained in the commentary on Chapter 8, Rabbenu Asher differs with the Rambam and offers a different interpretation of the terms s'tumah and p'tuchah. Their difference of opinion does not create a difficulty with regard to the first three passages. A problem, however, does arise with regard to the passage, V'hayah im shamo'a. The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.) states that the Rambam's opinion should be followed. The Turei Zahav (Orach Chayim 32:26) offers a compromise, which satisfies, according to his interpretation, both the Rambam's and Rabbenu Asher's views. His interpretation, however, is not accepted by all authorities.

Commentary Halacha 3

One must be careful regarding [the spelling of the words in these passages] with regard to the short or full form. - There are times when the Hebrew vowels cholam and shuruk are written with a letter vav, and times when that letter is omitted. Similarly, there are times when the vowel chirik is written with a yud, and times when that letter is omitted.

The expression, malei, rendered as "full form," refers to the form which includes the extra letter. Chaseir, rendered as "short form," refers to the form which lacks the extra letter.

[The manner in which] these four passages are written [in tefillin] should resemble the manner they are written in a Torah scroll that has been checked [for accuracy in this regard]. - In this context, note the comments of the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:20) and Shulchan Aruch HaRav (32:33), which elaborate on the responsibility of a scribe.

When one writes a word which requires a short form using a full form, it is invalid until one erases the extra letter. - As mentioned above, every letter of the four passages in the tefillin must be written in order. Nevertheless, although an entire passage was written, correcting a word by erasing an extra letter is not a contradiction to this principle.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:23) mentions that a problem may arise if the letter to be erased is in the middle of a word, since, when it is erased, the space left will cause the word to appear divided. The commentaries explain that the difficulty can sometimes be corrected by extending a letter, for example, writing a resh with an extended upper line.

If one writes a word which requires a full form using a short form, it is invalid and may not be corrected - Because the additional letter will not have been written in the proper order.

These are [the correct spellings of the words that could present difficulties] with regard to the short and full forms in these four passages. - The Rambam's inclusion of these particulars in the next four halachot is a clear expression of the desire he expressed in his introduction to the Mishneh Torah, to compose a text that will serve as "a compilation of the entire Oral Law," that would allow a person to "comprehend the entire Oral Law from it without having to study any other text." He saw the Mishneh Torah as a guide to the performance of the mitzvot, and therefore included in it details that would allow every individual to understand - and thus carry out - the minute particulars involved in the fulfillment of each mitzvah.

1. The Rambam does not use the expression, "short form," because the chirik of the alef possesses a yud. Similarly, the Rambam states "without a vav" or "without a yud" in several other instances in these halachot, because the form of the word is neither short or full in its entirety.
2. Generally, the word is written ידך. Menachot 37a explains that this departure from the norm was intended to teach us that tefillin are worn on the left hand, as explained in the commentary on Chapter 4, Halachah 2.
3. There are three sizes of letters in the Torah - the normal size, an enlarged size, and a reduced size - as mentioned in Chapter 7, Halachah 8. The Baal HaTurim notes that ayin and dalet spell the word eid, which means "witness." The Shema describes God's oneness. By reciting this verse and placing it in their tefillin and mezuzot, the Jews serve as witnesses, testifying to that oneness.
4. The Rambam also discusses the subject of crowns in Chapter 7, Halachot 8-9. When discussing this matter, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 36:3) mentions the obligation to place crowns on the letters, שעטנ"ז ג"ץ. The obligation of placing crowns on these letters is explicitly mentioned in the Talmud, Menachot 29b. Hence, they are regarded with greater stringency.

Afterwards, the Shulchan Aruch also states that there are scribes who customarily place crowns on other letters. Significantly, even in Yemen, where the Rambam's directives are usually adhered to precisely, an exception is made in this instance, and there are different customs with regard to the crowns placed upon letters.

5. Shulchan Aruch HaRav (36:5) and the Mishnah Berurah (36:15) require that one add any crowns that are lacking in the passages. This refers, however, to the crowns on the letters, שעטנ"ז ג"ץ, and not to the crowns required by the Rambam.

Commentary Halacha 10

A person who purchases tefillin from a person who is not an expert - Note the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 39:8), which states: "One should not purchase [tefillin] from a person who is not an expert."

is required to inspect them - checking to see that no extra letters were added, no letters were omitted, and that each letter is formed correctly.

[The Shulchan Aruch's directive and the importance of checking tefillin today must be emphasized, because many scribes, particularly those who write inexpensive tefillin, are not experts. Very frequently, people have purchased tefillin only to find that the passages are not acceptable. For this reason, the Rabbis have suggested buying only tefillin that have been written and inspected by an expert.]

If he purchased 100 tefillin, he should inspect three, either two head tefillin and one arm tefillin, or two arm tefillin and one head tefillin. - Eruvin 97a states that one must check at least one arm tefillin and one head tefillin to see that the scribe is proficient in writing both.

If he finds them acceptable, [from this time onward,] he can assume the scribe [to be proficient]. - One of the fundamental principles of Torah law is that a chazakah ("assumption upon which one can rely") about a matter can be established when the matter is repeated on three consecutive occasions.

Thus, they are all considered to be acceptable and need not be checked - provided the person who sells them states that they were all written by the same individual (Mishnah Berurah 39:22).

If, however, one purchases them in different packages, they must all be checked, because it can be presumed that each package was purchased from a different scribe. - It is, however, sufficient to check three tefillin from each package.

Commentary Halacha 11

After a person writes tefillin himself - and inspects them

purchases them from an expert - whose work need not be inspected

or purchases them from another person and has them inspected, and places them in their leather [compartments], they need not ever be checked again. - The commentaries explain that since they are enclosed in compartments that are not exposed to air, we can presume that the letters are intact.

Though this decision is quoted in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 39:10), a qualification is already made. A pair of tefillin which is not worn on a regular basis should be checked twice in seven years. The later authorities (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 39:11 and the Mishnah Berurah 32:26) suggest checking even tefillin that are worn regularly. At present, perhaps because of the differences in the way the compartments are made or in the parchment or ink that is used, it is very common for letters in tefillin to smudge, fade, and crack. The Mateh Efrayim suggests that each person have his tefillin inspected every year. Even authorities who are not that stringent recommend periodic checks.

As long as their compartments are intact, they are assumed to be acceptable even though several years have passed. - If, however, the compartments are opened or they are exposed to water, we are obligated to check them (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, loc. cit., Mishnah Berurah, loc. cit.).

We do not suspect that a letter has faded out or been perforated. Hillel the elder stated: “These [tefillin] - the tefillin he himself wore

are from my maternal grandfather” - ”and they have not been checked since.”

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Three

Halacha 1

There are eight requirements in the making of tefillin. All of them are halachot transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai and, therefore, it is necessary to fulfill them all. If one deviates with regard to any of them, the [tefillin] are unacceptable. They are:
a) The tefillin must be square and must be sewn closed in a square. [Both] diagonals must be equal, and thus all four angles will be equal.
b) The leather of the head [tefillin] should have a shin embossed on both its right and left sides.
c) The passages should be wrapped in fabric.
d) A hair should be wound around that fabric. Afterwards, they should be placed in their compartment.
e) They should be sewn [closed] with the sinews [of an animal].
f) The leather compartment in which they are placed should have a place for the straps to pass through so that they can be moved through the [tefillin's] handle.
g) The straps should be black.
h) The knot with which they are tied should be the renowned knot that is formed like a dalet.

Halacha 2

How are the head tefillin made? We take a cubic wooden block. [It need not, however, be a perfect cube]. If its height is [slightly] more or less than its width, it is of no consequence. We are required to take care only that its width and length are alike.

Three grooves are carved into it so that four projections will be made as depicted. Leather is taken and soaked in water, and then, the mold is placed within it. The leather is inserted in between the grooves.

While [the leather] is still wet, it is plucked and squeezed until the shape of a shin with three heads is formed on the right side of the tefillin as they will be worn, and the shape of a shin with four heads is formed on the left side of the tefillin as they will be worn.

Halacha 3

The leather is then left on the mold until it dries, and then it is removed. Thus, the leather will be [formed into a block] with four empty compartments.

One of the passages from the Torah is placed in each compartment, and then a portion of the leather is folded over beneath them, and then they are sewn closed on all four corners.

Within this lower piece of leather, a place should be left for the straps to be inserted, like a handle. It is called a ma'aboret.

Halacha 4

How are the tefillin of the arm made? We take a wooden block whose length is equal to its width and is a fingerbreadth - or slightly more or slightly less - high, and place wet leather around it.

The leather is left on this mold until it has dried, and then it is removed. The four passages are deposited in the place left by the mold. A portion of the leather is folded over beneath them, and then they are sewn closed on all four corners. A piece of leather, like a handle, should be left for the straps [to be inserted].

Halacha 5

What is the order of the passages? For the head tefillah, the final passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, is placed in the first compartment on the right side of the person putting on the tefillin. Shema is placed next to it. V'hayah ki y'viacha is placed in the third compartment next to Shema, and Kadesh Li is placed in the fourth compartment, on the left side of the person putting on the tefillin.

Thus, a person who is facing the person wearing the tefillin will read them in the following order. If their order is altered, they are not acceptable.

Halacha 6

[The passages for] the arm tefillin are written on four columns on a single piece of parchment like a Torah scroll, according to the order in which these passages are found in the Torah, in the following manner:

If they were written on four separate pieces of parchment and placed in the same compartment, one fulfills one's obligation. There is no need to glue them together.

Halacha 7

When the passages - both of the head and the arm tefillin - are rolled closed, they should be rolled from the end to the beginning, so that were the passage to be rolled open, it would be possible to read each portion from the beginning to the end.

Halacha 8

Before the passages are placed in their compartments, they should be wrapped in a fabric, and hair should be wound around them. Afterwards, they may be placed in their compartments.

This hair should be from a kosher species of animal or beast. Even when these animals died without being ritually slaughtered or were treifah, [their hair is nevertheless acceptable]. It has already become a universally accepted custom to wind hair from the tail of a calf [around these parchments].

Halacha 9

When the tefillin are sewn closed, they may be sewn only with sinews from a kosher species of animal or beast. [Sinews taken from] animals which died without being ritually slaughtered or which were treifah [are nevertheless acceptable].

It is customary to take sinews from the heels of kosher animals and beasts. They are white in color. If they are too firm, they are softened by [pounding them with] stones and the like until they become like flax. Afterwards, they are spun and twisted into threads and used to sew together tefillin and the sheets of Torah scrolls.

Halacha 10

When the tefillin are sewn closed, they should be sewn as a square. It is a widely accepted practice for there to be three stitches on each side, so that there will be twelve stitches in all. This applies for both the arm tefillin and the head tefillin. If, however, one made ten or fourteen stitches, there is no difficulty.

For each of the stitches, the thread must pass through from both sides.

Halacha 11

The groove between [each of the compartments] of the head tefillin should reach the stitches [which sew the tefillin closed]. [Nevertheless,] if the groove is discernible, so that the [division into] four compartments is openly visible, [the tefillin] are acceptable even if the groove does not extend until the stitches. If, however, the groove is not discernible, [the tefillin] are not acceptable.

It is necessary to pass a thread or cord through each of the grooves on [the outer side of] the leather [compartments] to separate between the compartments. It is common custom to pass one of the sinews used to sew [the tefillin closed] between each of these three grooves.

Halacha 12

How are the straps made? We take leather straps [at least] the length of a barley-corn in width. If they are wider than that, they are acceptable. The length of the straps of the head tefillin should be sufficient to surround the head, tie the knot, and extend on either side of the head until they reach the navel or slightly above it.

The length of the strap of the arm should be sufficient to surround the forearm, tie its knot, and extend until it can be wound three times around the middle finger and tied. If the straps are longer than this, they are acceptable.

Halacha 13

One places the straps through their handle, leaving space for the [circumference of] one's head, and ties a square knot, which resembles a dalet. Every Torah scholar should learn how to tie this knot. It is impossible to describe this knot in writing. Rather, it must be seen.

The straps of the hand tefillin should be tied with a knot that resembles a yud. This knot should allow the strap to pass through it so that it can be widened or narrowed while one is tying the tefillin on one's arm.

Halacha 14

The outer surface of the straps of both the head and the arm tefillin must be black. This is a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In contrast, with regard to the inner surface, since it faces the inside, it is acceptable if it is green or white. One should not make this [side of the straps] red, since it will be embarrassing for him if they become overturned.

The back of the straps should be the same color as the compartment; if it is green, they should be green; if it is white, they should be white. It is attractive for tefillin to be entirely black, the compartments and the entire strap.

Halacha 15

The leather used to cover the tefillin and from which the straps are made should come from a kosher species of animal, beast, or fowl. Even when these animals died without being ritually slaughtered or were treifah, [their hides are nevertheless acceptable]. If, however, leather from a non-kosher species was used or if they were covered with gold, they are not acceptable.

The leather used for the straps must be processed with the intent that it be used for the mitzvah. In contrast, the leather used to cover the tefillin need not be processed at all. It is even acceptable if it is made from matzah. [Indeed,] this is the practice in many communities.

Halacha 16

tefillin may be made only by a Jew, since making them is equivalent to writing [the passages], because of the shin [embossed] in the leather [compartment] mentioned above. Therefore, if they were made by a gentile or sewn closed by him, they are unacceptable.

Similarly, they may not be made by any others whose writing [of the passages] is not acceptable.

Halacha 17

A head tefillah may not be made into an arm tefillah, but an arm tefillah may be made into a head tefillah, because an article should not be lowered from a higher level of holiness to a lesser one. Similarly, the strap of a head tefillah should not be used for an arm tefillah.

When does the above apply? After one has worn them. However, if head tefillin have never been worn, one may make them into arm tefillin. How is this done? One drapes leather around them until they become a single [compartment] and [then, one can] tie them on his hand.

Halacha 18

[The following laws apply when] the stitches of the tefillin become torn: If two stitches which are located next to each other become torn, or three stitches become torn even though they are not located next to each other, [the tefillin] are unacceptable.

When does the above apply? With regard to old [tefillin]. With regard to new [tefillin], however, if their base remains intact, they are acceptable. [tefillin are considered] to be "new" as long as the leather remains strong and does not tear when one takes hold of a portion of the leather where the stitch was torn and hangs the tefillin. If the leather is not fit to hang the tefillin because it will tear, the [tefillin are considered] "old."

Halacha 19

Should a strap be torn, [the pieces] should not be tied or sewn together. Rather, it should be removed and entombed, and another one [substituted for it].

The remnants of [torn] straps are not acceptable unless their length and width meets - or exceeds - the minimum requirements.

At all times, a person should be careful that the external surface of the straps faces upward when he ties them on his arm and head.

Commentary Halacha 1

There are eight requirements in the making of tefillin. All of them are halachot transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai - In Chapter 1, Halachah 3, the Rambam mentioned that there were ten requirements for tefillin that were communicated as "halachot transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai." The first two involve the actual composition of the tefillin. They, and the other laws involving that subject, were discussed in the first two chapters. Now the Rambam discusses the requirements involved in making the tefillin's compartments and straps.

and, therefore, it is necessary to fulfill them all. If one deviates with regard to any of them, the [tefillin] are unacceptable. - Though a "halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai" is not written in the Torah itself, it is as binding upon us as those laws which are stated explicitly.

They are: a) The tefillin must be square - There is a homiletic dimension to this requirement. Nothing is naturally square. Thus, this shape alludes to man's power of achievement. Wearing tefillin on our heads and opposite our hearts implies that we should exercise our powers of achievement when our minds and hearts are tied to God's mitzvot.

The base of the tefillin must also be square. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:39) states that this is also a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Note Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:59 and the Mishnah Berurah 32:181, which state that since the squareness of tefillin is a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai, the tefillin must remain square at all times. If over the course of time, their shape changes, they may no longer be used.

and must be sewn closed in a square. - See Halachah 10.

[Both] diagonals - of the square on the top and the base of the tefillin

must be equal - The commentaries cite Sukkah 8a, which states that the diagonal of a square is approximately 1.4 times the length of one of its sides.

and thus all four angles will be equal. - Each one being 90 degrees. See Halachot 2 and 4.

b) The leather of the head [tefillin] should have a shin embossed on both its right and left sides. - See Halachah 2.

c) The passages should be wrapped in fabric. - See Halachah 8.

d) A hair should be wound around that fabric. Afterwards, they should be placed in their compartment. - See Halachah 8.

e) They should be sewn [closed] with the sinews [of an animal]. - See Halachot 9-10.

f) The leather compartment in which they are placed should have a place for the straps to pass through so that they can be moved through the [tefillin's] handle. - See Halachot 3-4.

g) The straps should be black. - See Halachot 14.

h) The knot with which they are tied should be the renowned knot that is formed like a dalet. - See Halachah 13. Note Shabbat 62a, which states that the knot of the arm tefillin, which is shaped like a yud, is also a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Commentary Halacha 2

How are the head tefillin made? We take a cubic wooden block.- This appears to be the Rambam's preference. It is not, however, an absolute requirement.

[It need not, however, be a perfect cube.] If its height is [slightly] more or less than its width, it is of no consequence. We are required to take care only that its width and length are alike. - Thus, the top of the tefillin must be a perfect square, but its side surfaces need not be square. This ruling is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch and the Ramah (Orach Chayim 32:39).

The Bi'ur Halachah emphasizes that it is not the top surface of the tefillin alone which must be square. At every point along its height, its circumference must be a perfect square. Thus, even if the top surface itself remains square, should the tefillin be crooked or noticeably indented at the sides, they are unacceptable.

Three grooves are carved into it so that four projections will be made as depicted. - The accompanying diagram is based on a drawing by the Rambam himself, which has been copied in all printings of the Mishneh Torah.

Leather is taken - Note our commentary on Chapter 2, Halachah 1, regarding making tefillin by sewing or gluing together separate compartments. This halachah indicates the Rambam's preference for tefillin to be made from a single piece of leather.

and soaked in water, and then, the mold is placed within it. - The authoritative manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah read, "The leather is placed around the mold." This version more accurately describes the process with which tefillin are actually made.

The leather is inserted in between the grooves - and around theFJ 46sides, so that when it dries four compartments will be created.

While [the leather] is still wet, it is plucked and squeezed - with tweezers. The Orchot Chayim states that one must make the shin in this manner, and it is unacceptable to use a mold. The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 32), Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:65, and the Mishnah Berurah 32:193 all mention that though it is theoretically preferable to follow the Orchot Chayim's ruling, nevertheless, until recently, most shinim were made using a mold. At present, however, there are some manufacturers of tefillin who have reverted to the practice of making the shin with tweezers.

until the shape of a shin - The Orchot Chayim mentions that the letter shin is numerically equivalent to 300. In the diaspora, tefillin are worn 300 days during a solar year (according to the opinion which requires that they be worn on chol hamo'ed).

4

with three heads - This is the usual form of the shin.

is formed on the right side of the tefillin as they will be worn, and the shape of a shin with four heads - The Beit Yosef (loc. cit.) explains that the letters on the tablets of the Ten Commandments were hewn into the stone. When a three-headed shin is hewn into stone, the protruding stone appears as a four-headedshin.

is formed on the left side of the tefillin as they will be worn. - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 32:42) rules that tefillin are not disqualified if the sides on which the two shinim are placed are reversed, so long as they possess both forms of the shin.

Commentary Halacha 3

The leather is then left on the mold until it dries, and then it is removed. Thus, the leather will be [formed into a block] with four empty compartments.

One of the passages from the Torah is placed - upright, as a Torah scroll stands in the ark (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 32:45), with the right side of the passage on the left side of the tefillin (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:70).

in each compartment - In Halachah 5, the Rambam describes the order in which the passages are placed into the compartments.

and then a portion of the leather is folded over beneath them - Thus, forming the bottom of the tefillin's base. This is referred to as the titorah, which means "bridge" (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 32:44). It is given this name because it extends like a bridge below the tefillin (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:66).

and then they are sewn closed on all four corners. - The precise manner in which the tefillin are sewn closed is described in Halachah 10.

Within this lower piece of leather, a place should be left for the straps to be inserted - and pass through. This portion should extend outward

like a handle. - Alternatively, "loop" (Aruch).

The width of this "handle" should be less than the width of the base of the tefillin, to distinguish it from the base and thus accentuate the base's squareness (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, loc. cit., Mishnah Berurah 32:177).

It is called a ma'aboret. - which literally means "passageway."

Commentary Halacha 4

How are the tefillin of the arm made? We take a wooden block whose length is equal to its width - Here, also, a square shape is required at the top of the tefillin, along its entire height, and at its base.

and is a fingerbreadth - According to the Shiurei Torah, a fingerbreadth is 2 centimeters in modern measure. The Chazon Ish differs, and considers it 2.4 centimeters.

or slightly more or slightly less - high - Curiously, though the Rambam mentions the preferred size for the arm tefillin in this halachah, he did not suggest a size for the head tefillin in the previous two halachot. Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:62 relates that people of stature should wear head tefillin that are at least three fingerbreadths high.

Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:63 and the Mishnah Berurah 32:189 mention that the width and length of the base of the tefillin should be more than one fingerbreadth. Preferably, the width and length of the head tefillin should be two fingerbreadths.

and place wet leather around it. - Thus, forming a single compartment.

The leather is left on this mold until it has dried, and then it is removed. The four passages - which are written on a single piece of parchment

are deposited in the place left by the mold. - As mentioned in the previous halachah, the parchment should be placed upright in the compartment.

A portion of the leather is folded over beneath them, and then they are sewn closed on all four corners. - See Halachah 10.

A piece of leather, like a handle, should be left for the straps [to be inserted]. - The ma'aboret of the arm tefillin is governed by the same principles as explained above with regard to the head tefillin.

Commentary Halacha 5

What is the order of the passages? For the head tefillah, the final passage, V'hayah im shamo'a - The order of the passages chosen by the Rambam - when read by a person facing the person wearing the tefillin - reflects their order in the Torah (Menachot 34b). Hence, V'hayah im shamo'a is referred to as the final passage.

is placed in the first compartment on the right side of the person putting on the tefillin. Shema is placed next to it. V'hayah ki y'viacha is placed in the third compartment next to Shema, and Kadesh Li is placed in the fourth compartment, on the left side of the person putting on the tefillin. - Rashi also prescribes this order for the passages of the tefillin, and this is the order that is accepted as halachah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 34:1). Many other Torah authorities (among them Rav Hai Gaon and Rabbenu Tam) suggest a different order, placing the two passages that begin V'hayah, V'hayah ki y'viacha and V'hayah im shamo'a in the center, Shema on the right side of the person wearing the tefillin, and Kadesh Li on his left side.

Thus, a person who is facing the person wearing the tefillin will read them in the following order. - The diagram accompanying this halachah is based on a diagram drawn by the Rambam himself and included in all texts of the Mishneh Torah.

Thus, the Rambam (and similarly, Rabbenu Tam and those who follow his opinion) considered that the order of the passages be calculated from the perspective of a person standing opposite the person wearing the tefillin. In contrast, there are other opinions (Shimusha Rabbah and the Ra'avad) who maintain that the order of the passages should be calculated from the perspective of the person wearing the tefillin. (This produces two further perspectives regarding the order of the tefillin. The Shimusha Rabbah follows the same order as the Rambam except that V'hoyoh im Shamoa, is placed in the first compartment on the left side of the person putting on the tefillin, not on the right side. Similarly, the Ra'avad shares Rabbenu Tam's view, but reverses the sides.)

If their order is altered, they are not acceptable. - For this reason, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 34:2) suggest that a God-fearing person put on both a pair of tefillin that follow the opinion of the Rambam and Rashi, and a second pair, that follow the opinion of Rabbenu Tam. Though the Shulchan Aruch mentions certain reservations in this regard, in many communities it has become widespread practice to wear both pairs of tefillin.

Significantly, the She'elot UTeshuvot Min HaShamayim writes that with regard to this dispute an answer was received from heaven, "Just as there is a dispute in the earthly realm, there is a dispute in the spiritual realms."

Commentary Halacha 6

[The passages for] the arm tefillin are written on four columns - each passage being written on a separate column

on a single piece of parchment - Though this is not an absolute requirement, it is preferable (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:72; Mishnah Berurah 32:219).

like a Torah scroll - i.e., the parchment is rolled closed.

according to the order in which these passages are found in the Torah - If the passages, in part or in totality, are not written in order, they are unacceptable and may not be corrected.

in the following manner: - The diagram accompanying this halachah is based on a diagram drawn by the Rambam himself and included in all texts of the Mishneh Torah.

If they were written on four separate pieces of parchment and placed in the same compartment, one fulfills one's obligation. There is no need to glue them together. - Although the Ramah (Orach Chayim 32:47) accepts the Rambam's decision, he states that it is customary to glue the parchments together. He emphasizes that it is desirable to use glue that does not contain any non-kosher ingredients.

Commentary Halacha 7

When the passages - both of the head and the arm tefillin - are rolled closed - to be inserted into their compartments.

they should be rolled from the end to the beginning - as a mezuzah must be rolled from אחדtowards שמע(Menachot 31b).

so that were the passage to be rolled open, it would be possible to read each portion from the beginning to the end. - The Bi'ur Halachah (32) states that although rolling the passages is preferable, if the parchments were placed in the tefillin without being rolled closed they are acceptable.

Commentary Halacha 8

Before the passages are placed in their compartments, they should be wrapped in a fabric - The present custom is to use a piece of parchment (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 32:44). Although the Rambam considers this requirement to be a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai, the Ashkenazic authorities do not agree. Accordingly, they maintain that, after the fact, if the passages are not wrapped in this parchment, the tefillin may still be used (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:68; Mishnah Berurah 32:205).

The difference between the Rambam and the Ashkenazic authorities depends on their interpretation of a passage from the Jerusalem Talmud (Megilah, Chapter 1). This difference in interpretation is also reflected in the laws regarding correcting a torn Torah scroll. See Chapter 9, Halachah 15.

and hair should be wound around them. Afterwards, they may be placed in their compartments. - All authorities agree that this is a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The difference of opinion of whether it is necessary to wrap the tefillin in parchment has created a difficulty with regard to this obligation. The opinions which do not require that the tefillin be wrapped in parchment require that this hair be wrapped around the passages themselves. In contrast, the Rambam, who maintains that it is necessary to wrap them, obligates the hair to be placed around that wrapping.

In practice, it is customary to satisfy both opinions and wrap the hair around the passages, cover them with a parchment, and then wrap the same hair around the parchment as well (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:69, Mishnah Berurah 32:209).

This hair should be from a kosher species of animal or beast. - As explained in Chapter 1, Halachah 10, all the elements required for tefillin must be made from species which may be eaten.

Even when these animals died without being ritually slaughtered or were treifah, - wounded or possessing an illness that will cause them to die within a year. The meat of such an animal may not be eaten.

[their hair is nevertheless acceptable]. - As explained in the commentary on the above-mentioned halachah, although these animals themselves may not be eaten, since they come from a kosher species, they are not disqualified.

It has already become a universally accepted custom to wind hair from the tail - The hair from the tail is longer and easier to tie than the hair from the other portions of the body.

of a calf - To recall the sin of the Golden Calf (Shimusha Rabbah).

[around these parchments]. - Based on the Zohar (Parashat Bo), it is customary that the hair which is wound around the passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, be extended and protrude from the compartments slightly (Ramah, Orach Chayim 32:44).

Commentary Halacha 9

When the tefillin are sewn closed, they may be sewn only with sinews - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:50) states that if sinews are not available, one may sew the tefillin closed with thread made from parchment, until sinews are available. Although there are opinions which object to this ruling, it should be followed if there is no other alternative (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:76; Mishnah Berurah 32:227).

from a kosher species of animal or beast. - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:49) states that it is preferable to use the sinews of an ox.

Significantly, the Rambam does not mention sinews from kosher fowl. The Rabbis have not defined which of a fowl's sinews are classified as םידיג and which are not. Therefore, it is desirable to use the sinews from beasts or animals, and thus avoid this difficulty (Mishnah Berurah, loc. cit.).

[Sinews taken from] animals which died without being ritually slaughtered or which were treifahs [are nevertheless acceptable]. - See the previous halachah.

It is customary to take sinews from the the heels of kosher animals and beasts. They are white in color. If they are too firm, they are softened by [pounding them with] stones and the like until they become like flax. - This halachah serves as another example of the Rambam's desire for the Mishneh Torah to serve as a complete guide for the fulfillment of the mitzvot.

Afterwards, they are spun and twisted into threads - Note Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:75, which states that the process of spinning the sinews into thread must be carried out with the intent that they be used for this sacred purpose. Accordingly, this process may not be carried out by gentiles.

and used to sew together tefillin and the sheets of Torah scrolls. - A Torah scroll contains many sheets of parchment. It is a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai to join these sheets by sewing them with sinews, as explained in Chapter 9, Halachah 13.

Commentary Halacha 10

When the tefillin are sewn closed - If the base of the tefillin is made from a separate piece of leather from the compartments, the stitches must also be connected to the edges of the skin covering the compartments (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:77; Mishnah Berurah 32:228).

they should be sewn as a square. - If the stitches are sewn in any other shape, the tefillin are unacceptable.

It is a widely accepted practice for there to be three stitches on each side, so that there will be twelve stiches in all. - The Shimusha Rabbah interprets this to be an allusion to the twelve tribes of Israel.

This applies for both the arm tefillin and the head tefillin. If, however, one made ten or fourteen stitches, there is no difficulty. - Although the simple meaning of the Rambam's statements is that any number of stitches is acceptable, the commentaries have noted that the Shimusha Rabbah also attaches significance to the numbers ten and fourteen. Ten represents the twelve tribes minus Levi (the priestly tribe) and Judah (the tribe of royalty). Fourteen includes also the tribes of Menasheh and Ephraim.

For each of the stitches, the thread - or threads

must pass through from both sides - The tefillin should be sewn closed with two needles: one which is initially passed through facing the upper side of the tefillin, and one which is initially facing their lower side (Mishnah Berurah 32:230).

Commentary Halacha 11

As explained previously, the head tefillin must include four separate compartments. To emphasize that each of these compartments is a distinct entity,

The groove between [each of the compartments] of the head tefillin should reach the stitches [which sew the tefillin closed]. - Thus, the separation between the compartments will be both external and internal.

[Nevertheless,] if the groove is discernible, so that the [division into] four compartments is openly visible, [the tefillin] are acceptable even if the groove does not extend until the stitches - i.e., the separation between the compartments does not extend through the total height of the tefillin.

If, however, the groove is not discernible, [the tefillin] are not acceptable. - Note the Mishnah Berurah 32:187, which states that if the groove between the tefillin is not discernible, the tefillin are not acceptable even if they are divided into four separate compartments. Needless to say, however, if only an external distinction is made, but inside, there is no separation between the compartments, the tefillin are not acceptable (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:61).

It is necessary to pass a thread or cord through each of the grooves on [the outer side of] the leather [compartments] to separate between the compartments. - This decision is not accepted by all the authorities. Tosafot, Menachot 32b, states that it is necessary to pass a cord between the compartments only when all four passages are written on a single piece of parchment. See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:71, Mishnah Berurah 32:217.

It is common custom to pass one of the sinews used to sew [the tefillin closed] between each of these three grooves. - This halachah raises questions with regard to the process in which tefillin are customarily made today. At present, after the compartments of the tefillin are fashioned into a single block, a sinew is passed between the compartments. Afterwards, they are glued together, and then the entire block is shaped into a square. The grooves we see do not represent the real divisions between the blocks, but are merely external impressions.

This process is employed, because were the compartments not to be glued together, it would be difficult to form the tefillin into a square. Even if that were possible at the outset, problems might arise over the course of time, because the compartments might spread further apart, and thus prevent the square shape from being maintained. Though it is acceptable to use tefillin made in the present manner, the Rabbis suggest using those in which the separation between the compartments remains openly visible afterwards. (See the Responsa of the Chatam Sofer, Orach Chayim 5; and the Bi'ur Halachah 32.)

Commentary Halacha 12

How are the straps made? We take leather straps - See Halachah 15.

[at least] the length of a barley-corn in width. - The Mishnah Berurah 27:42 emphasizes that when the tefillin are being tied around the arm, care must be taken that the straps do not wrinkle - particularly around the knot, where it is natural that they do - so that this minimum width is maintained.

Based on Chapter 9, Halachah 9, we can conclude that this measure is approximately 1 centimeter according to Shiurei Torah and 1.2 centimeters according to Chazon Ish.

If they are wider than that, they are acceptable. The length of the straps of the head tefillin should be sufficient to surround the head, tie the knot - See the following halachah.

and extend on either side of the head until they reach the navel or slightly above it. - The Tur (Orach Chayim 27) writes that, according to one opinion, the strap on the right side should reach the navel and the strap on the left should reach the chest. Another opinion states that the right strap should reach the genitalia, and the left, the navel.

The length of the strap of the arm should be sufficient to surround the forearm - at the muscle (Chapter 4, Halachah 2)

tie its knot - See the following halachah.

and extend - Significantly, neither in this halachah nor in the following chapter, where the Rambam describes the manner in which tefillin are worn, does he mention the custom of winding the tefillin strap seven times around the arm.

until it can be wound three times around the middle finger and tied. - In one of his responsa, the Rambam explains that although the verse, "And you shall tie them for a sign on your hand," refers to the knot tied on the forearm, our Sages divided the word וקשרתם in half, תם וקשר, meaning "And you shall tie a perfect knot." For the knot of the tefillin to be "perfect," the straps should be tied on the hand as well.

If the straps are longer than this, they are acceptable. - From the Rambam's statements in Halachah 19, it would appear that he maintains that the minimum standards mentioned in this halachah are absolute requirements.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 27:11) states that since the minimum measure mentioned in this halachah for the head tefillin is not found in the Talmud, if the only tefillin available do not have straps that conform to these measures, these tefillin should be worn. The straps of the head tefillin, however, must be long enough so that they can be draped in front of the person at least slightly (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 27:22; Mishnah Berurah 27:44).

Commentary Halacha 13

One places the straps through their handle - The extension of the tefillin's base described in Halachah 4.

leaving space for the [circumference of] one's head, and ties - The Pri Megadim writes that this knot must be tied with the specific intent that it be used for the mitzvah.

a square knot, which resembles a dalet. - The Rambam's intent is that though the knot is square, the straps extending from either side each appearFJ 46as the legs of a dalet. Note the Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 32), which states that it is preferable to tie a knot which is shaped like a dalet itself. (Unlike the Rambam's knot, which is square, this knot is a right angle.) Sephardic and Chassidic custom is to follow the Beit Yosef. Ashkenazim and Yemenites follow the Rambam's view.

Every Torah scholar should learn how to tie this knot. - Chulin 9a mentions this as one of the basic points of knowledge which every Torah scholar should possess.

It is impossible to describe this knot in writing. Rather, it must be seen. - The Eshkol associates this statement with the interpretation (Menachot 35b) of Exodus 33:23: "And you shall see My rear," that God showed Moses the knot of His head tefillin. Since it is impossible to describe that knot, God actually showed it to Moses.

The straps of the hand tefillin should be tied with a knot that resembles a yud. - The Tur (Orach Chayim 32) writes that - together with the shin embossed on the head tefillin and the dalet mentioned above - this yud completes God's name ידש.

Significantly, in Halachah 1, the Rambam does not mention the yud as a "halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai." Our text of Shabbat 62a confers that status on all three of these letters. Tosafot (Shabbat, loc. cit.) suggests emending the text of that passage and conferring that status on the shin alone.
The Rambam appears to take an intermediate position.

This knot should - have a loop to

allow the strap to pass through it so that it can be widened or narrowed while one is tying the tefillin on one's arm.

Commentary Halacha 14

The outer surface of the straps of both the head and the arm tefillin must be black. - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 33:4) states that it is preferable that the straps be dyed black by a Jew with the intent that they be used for the mitzvah of tefillin. According to the Ramah, this is an absolute requirement.

This is a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai. - The straps must remain black at all times. Frequently, after the tefillin have been worn for an extended period, the dye on the straps begins to fade (in particular, near the knots). Since the color of the straps is "a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai," the tefillin are unacceptable if that color has faded. Accordingly, from time to time, it is desirable to check the straps and, if necessary, dye them again (Mishnah Berurah 33:19).

In contrast, with regard to the inner surface, since it faces the inside, it is acceptable if it is green or white - or any other color (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 33:3).

One should not make this [side of the straps] red, since it will be embarrassing for him if they become overturned. - People might think that he is infested with skin ulcers and it is the blood oozing from them which makes the straps red (Rashi, Menachot 35a).

The back of the straps should be the same color as the compartment - before it is dyed; alternatively, the color of the underside of the compartment (Kin'at Eliyahu).

if it is green, they should be green; if it is white, they should be white. - i.e., it should be the natural color of the leather.

It is attractive for tefillin to be entirely black, the compartments - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:40) uses the expression, "It is a mitzvah that they be black." The Nodah B'Yehudah (Orach Chayim 1) cites the Jerusalem Talmud (Megillah 1:9), which states that it is a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai that the compartments be black. The Rambam, however, does not consider dyeing the compartments an obligation of this nature.

and the entire strap. - i.e., both sides. This practice was never widely accepted (Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 33).

Commentary Halacha 15

The leather used to cover the tefillin - i.e., the compartments

and from which the straps are made should come from a kosher species of animal, beast, or fowl. Even when these animals died without being ritually slaughtered or were treifah, [their hides are nevertheless acceptable]. - Shabbat 108a derives this concept through the exegesis of Exodus 13:9, "So that the Torah of God will be in your mouths."

If, however, leather from a non-kosher species - since it is not permitted to be eaten, it may not be used for tefillin

was used or if they were covered with gold, they are not acceptable. - The Rambam appears to be stating that the compartments themselves may not be made from leather from a non-kosher species or from gold. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:48), adds that this prohibition forbids attaching these substances to kosher tefillin.

The leather used for the straps must be processed with the intent that it be used for the mitzvah. - If it was not processed with this intent, it is unacceptable (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 33:3; Mishnah Berurah 33:17).

In contrast, the leather used to cover the tefillin - i.e., the compartments

need not be processed at all. - Accordingly, if processed, it is not necessary that it be processed with the intent that it be used for a mitzvah.

The Rambam's view is not accepted by most authorities. Rabbenu Asher states that the leather must be processed and that the processing must be carried out with the intent that the leather be used for the mitzvah. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:37) accepts Rabbenu Asher's view, but writes that if no other tefillin are available, it is possible to rely on the Rambam's opinion.

It is even acceptable if it is made from matzah. - Shabbat 79a describes this as leather which was not processed with flour and salt and, therefore, likened to matzah, which is simple, without any flavoring.

[Indeed,] this is the practice in many communities. - In one of his responsa, the Rambam writes that such leather is used because it is easier to shape. Others state that such leather becomes firmer.

Commentary Halacha 16

tefillin may be made only by a Jew, since making them is equivalent to writing [the passages] - for which a gentile is disqualified, as explained in Chapter 1, Halachah 13.

because of the shin [embossed] in the leather [compartment] mentioned above. - Halachah 2. Since embossing that shin is equivalent to writing, it must be done by a Jew with the proper intent.

Therefore, if they were made by a gentile or sewn closed by him, they are unacceptable. - The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 39) explains that since making tefillin has one element which is equivalent to writing the passages, every deed connected with making them may be performed only by those permitted to write them.

Similarly, they may not be made by any others whose writing [of the passages] is not acceptable - for example, an apostate, a woman, a minor, or a Canaanite slave (Chapter 1, Halachah 13).

Commentary Halacha 17

A head tefillah may not be made into an arm tefillah - for the reason to be explained immediately

but an arm tefillah may be made into a head tefillah - by making four compartments, separating the passages, and placing each one in its respective compartment. Similarly, a shin must be embossed on either side of the tefillin.

because an article should not be lowered from a higher level of holiness - Rashi (Menachot 34b) explains that the head tefillin are considered to be on a higher level because they have the first two letters of the name שדי (the embossed shin and the dalet of the knot). In contrast, the arm tefillah has only one letter, the yud of the knot.

to a lesser one. - This principle is applied in many other contexts in Torah law. For example, Hilchot tefillah 11:14 states that a house of study may not be transformed into a synagogue, because a house of study is on a higher level of holiness.

Similarly, the strap of a head tefillah should not be used for an arm tefillah. - Within its discussion of these laws, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 42:3) also mentions the prohibition against using articles associated with tefillin - e.g., a carrying bag - for mundane purposes.

When does the above apply? After one has worn them. However, if head tefillin have never been worn, one may make them into arm tefillin. - The commentaries explain that this halachah communicates a fundamental principle of Torah law, הזמנה, designating an article to be used for a sacred purpose, alone is not sufficient for this holiness to be imparted to them. They must first be used for the purpose for which they were intended.

[Homiletically, this teaches us how important it is to express in deed all the resolves which we have made.]

How is this done? One drapes leather around them until they become a single [compartment] and [then, one can] tie them on his hand - The fact that inside, they are still divided into four compartments is not significant.

Commentary Halacha 18

[The following laws apply when] the stitches of the tefillin - which sew the upper portion of the tefillin's base to the lower portion, as described in Halachot 9 and 10

become torn: If two stitches which are located next to each other become torn, or three stitches become torn even though they are not located next to each other, [the tefillin] are unacceptable. - Menachot 35a mentions these laws with regard to "tefillin being torn." The Rambam explains that this refers to the stitches, as stated in this halachah. Rabbenu Asher, however, interprets this passage as referring to the leather separating one of the compartments of the head tefillin from the other. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 33:1-2) quotes both opinions as halachah.

When does the above apply? With regard to old [tefillin]. With regard to new [tefillin], however, if their base remains intact, they are acceptable. - Our translation of טבלה as "base" follows the interpretation of most authorities. Note, however, the Bi'ur Halachah (33), which stresses the emphasis the Rambam placed on the stitches being sewn in a square shape. (See Halachot 1 and 10.) If some of the stitches are torn, he explains, then the shape of these stitches may no longer be square, and that is the difficulty to which the Rambam is referring. Thus, he interprets טבלה is referring to "the square shape of the stitches."

[tefillin are considered] to be "new" as long as the leather remains strong and does not tear when one takes hold of a portion of the leather where the stitch was torn and hangs the tefillin. If the leather is not fit to hang the tefillin because it will tear, the [tefillin are considered] "old." - Note that Rashi (Menachot, loc. cit.) and others interpret the passage as ruling more leniently with regard to "old" tefillin than "new" tefillin. Accordingly, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 33:2 and the Mishnah Berurah 33:15 state that, at the outset, one should follow the stringencies implied by both opinions, and replace the stitches whether the tefillin are new or old. If that is impossible and it is impossible for the person to obtain other tefillin, he may wear those with torn stitches whether they are new or old.

Commentary Halacha 19

Should a strap be torn, [the pieces] should not be tied or sewn together. - Menachot 35b derives this concept from the word וקשרתם, “And you shall tie them." As mentioned, this word can be divided in half – תם וקשר - which means "and you shall tie perfectly."

Rather, it should be removed and entombed - Since it was used for a mitzvah, it may not be discarded casually (Megillah 26b).

and another one [substituted for it]. - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 33:5) mentions an opinion which allows one to sew (but not tie) the two portions of the torn strap together. It concludes that it is preferable to follow the Rambam's view, but if there is no alternative, the more lenient opinion may be followed.

The remnants of [torn] straps are not acceptable - i.e., if a strap tears, one may not continue using one of the pieces

unless their length and width meets - or exceeds - the minimum requirements - mentioned in Halachah 12.

At all times, a person should be careful that the external surface of the straps faces upward - Menachot 35b states, "Their attractive side should face outward." Mo'ed Katan 25a relates that Rav Huna fasted for forty days to atone for the fact that his tefillin strap once became overturned.

when he ties them on his arm and head. - Shulchan Aruch HaRav 27:19 and the Mishnah Berurah 27:38 place greater emphasis on the portion of the strap which is tied around one's head and arm. If these portions of the strap become overturned, one should seek atonement by fasting or by donating to charity. Nevertheless, care should also be taken that the remainder of the straps do not turn over.

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Four

Halacha 1

Where are the head tefillin placed? They should be placed at the point of the skull, the end of the hairline towards the face, the place where a child's brain [can be felt] to pulsate.

Care must be taken to position them in the center, so that they will be "between the eyes." The knot should be at the top portion of the neck, the bottom of the skull.

Halacha 2

The arm [tefillin] should be tied to one's left arm at the muscle - i.e., the bulging flesh of the arm between the shoulder and the elbow. Thus, if one presses his arm to his ribs, the tefillah will be opposite his heart, thus fulfilling the directive [Deuteronomy 6:6], "And these words... shall be upon your heart."

Halacha 3

A person who places the arm tefillah on his palm, or the head tefillah on his forehead, follows the way of the Sadducees. A person who makes his tefillin rounded like a nut does not fulfill the mitzvah at all.

A left-handed person puts tefillin on his right hand, since [figuratively,] it is his left hand. If he is ambidextrous, he should place them on his left hand - i.e., his left hand in a literal sense.

The places where to tie and place the tefillin were received as part of the oral tradition.

Halacha 4

The [absence of the] head tefillah does not preclude [wearing tefillin] on the arm, and similarly, the [absence of the] arm tefillah does not preclude [wearing tefillin] on the head. They are two mitzvot, each one to be considered independently.

What blessings are recited? On the head tefillin, one recites: "[Blessed are You...] who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the mitzvah of tefillin." On the arm tefillin, one recites: "[Blessed are You...] who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to put on tefillin."

Halacha 5

When does the above apply? When one puts on only one of them. If, however, one puts them both on, one recites only a single blessing, "...to put on tefillin."

One should tie the tefillin on one's arm, and afterwards put on the head tefillin. When one removes them, the head tefillin should be removed, and then the arm tefillin.

Halacha 6

[After] reciting the blessing, "...to put on tefillin," and tying the tefillin on one's arm, one is forbidden to talk - even to respond to a greeting from one's teacher - until he puts on the head tefillin. If he talks, it is considered to be a transgression. [In such an instance,] one is required to recite the second blessing, "...concerning the mitzvah of tefillin," and then put on the head tefillin.

Halacha 7

Whenever a person puts on tefillin - even if he removes them and puts them on several times throughout the day - he should recite a blessing for them.

With regard to all mitzvot: one recites a blessing for them before performing them. Therefore, one should recite the blessing for the arm tefillah after placing it on one's muscle, before tying it, since tying it comprises the fulfillment of the mitzvah.

Halacha 8

When a person removes his tefillin to place them in a container, he should not place the arm tefillah below and the head tefillah above, because when he wants to put them on, he will encounter the head tefillah first. Thus, he will [be forced to] ignore it and take out the arm tefillah, since one should not put on the head tefillah before the arm tefillah.

[This is undesirable because] it is forbidden for a person to ignore one mitzvah and proceed to the fulfillment of another mitzvah. Rather, as soon as a mitzvah comes to a person's hand, he should occupy himself with it. Therefore, a person should place the arm tefillin above, so that he will encounter it first, and thus put on the tefillin in the proper sequence.

Halacha 9

A container that was made for tefillin to be placed in and which was used for that purpose becomes holy. It is forbidden to use it for mundane purposes.

If a container was prepared for that purpose, but never used for it, or if a container was temporarily used for tefillin, but was not prepared for that purpose, it does not become holy. Rather, it is considered an ordinary article as before.

It is forbidden to suspend tefillin. [This applies regardless of whether one suspends them] by their straps or from the tefillah itself. One may, however, suspend the bag in which they are placed.

Halacha 10

The time for wearing tefillin is the day and not the night, as [Exodus 13:10] states: "And you shall observe this statute in its appointed time, from day to day." "This statute" refers to the mitzvah of tefillin.

Similarly, Sabbaths and holidays are not days on which tefillin [are worn], as [Exodus 13:9] states: "And they shall be a sign for you." Since the Sabbaths and the holidays are themselves signs, [the sign of tefillin is unnecessary].

When does the time to put them on begin? When one can see a colleague standing four cubits away and recognize him. [It continues] until sunset.

Halacha 11

It is permitted for a person who put on tefillin before sunset to continue wearing them after nightfall. They may even remain upon him the entire night.

This law, however, is not to be taught in public. Instead, everyone should be taught not to wear tefillin at night and to remove them before sunset.

A person who puts on tefillin after sunset transgresses a Scriptural prohibition, as [implied by Exodus 13:10]: "And you shall observe this statute... from day to day."

Halacha 12

When a person is wearing tefillin in the midst of a journey and the sun sets, marking the commencement of the Sabbath, he should cover them with his hand until he reaches his home and then, remove them.

If he is sitting in the house of study and the sun sets, marking the commencement of the Sabbath, he should cover them with his hand until he reaches his home, and then remove them.

If there is a house located near the wall [of a city] where they would be safe, he should place them there. If, however, he did not remove his tefillin after sunset because he did not have a place where they would be safe, it is permissible for him to continue wearing them in order to protect them.

Halacha 13

All those who are exempt from the obligation to recite the Shema are exempt from the obligation to wear tefillin. If a minor knows [the importance of] guarding his tefillin, his father should obtain tefillin for him, to educate him regarding the performance of mitzvot.

A person with stomach problems and anyone who can contain his excretory functions only with difficulty are exempt from the obligation to wear tefillin. [In contrast,] all those ritually impure are obligated to wear tefillin like one who is pure.

A person who suffers discomfort, or someone who is disturbed and cannot concentrate his thoughts, is exempt from the obligation to wear tefillin, since a person who wears tefillin is forbidden to divert his attention from them.

Priests who are in the midst of [the Temple] service, Levites who chant on the platform, and Israelites while they are attending the Temple [ceremonies] are exempt from the obligation to pray and to wear tefillin.

Halacha 14

A person should touch his tefillin [from time to time] during the entire time he is wearing them, so that he will not divert his attention from them even for a single moment, for their holiness surpasses that of the tzitz. The tzitz has God's name [written] upon it only once, while the head tefillin - and similarly, the arm tefillin - contain the name י-ה-ו-ה 21 times.

Halacha 15

tefillin require a clean body; i.e., that one should be careful not to release gas while wearing them.

Accordingly, it is forbidden to sleep while wearing them - neither a long sleep nor a nap. If, however, one places a cloth over them and a woman is not with him, one may nap while wearing them. What should he do? Place his head between his knees and sleep while sitting.

Halacha 16

A person who has tefillin wound around his hand is permitted to sleep with them. [This applies] even to a long sleep.

He may eat only a snack while wearing them. If, however, he enters to partake of a regular meal, he should remove them and place them on the table until after he washes his hands [at the conclusion of the meal]. Afterwards, he should put them on and recite grace over his meal while wearing them.

Halacha 17

[The following rules apply with regard to a person] wearing tefillin who must use the lavatory: [He should remove his tefillin but,] while he enters, he should not place them in the holes [of the outer wall of the lavatory] which are near the public domain, lest they be taken by passersby.

What should he do? Even if he [merely] has to urinate, he should remove his tefillin four cubits away [from the lavatory] and roll them in his clothes like a Torah scroll, holding them near his heart with his right hand. He must take care that the strap does not protrude more than a handbreadth from his hand. Afterwards, he should enter and relieve himself. After leaving the lavatory and walking more than four cubits away, he should put them on.

Halacha 18

When does the above apply? In a permanent lavatory where drops [of urine] will not sprinkle upon him. In contrast, in a place that is temporarily being used as a lavatory, one should not enter, [holding tefillin] wound up in one's hand. Instead, one should remove them [outside the lavatory] and give them to a colleague to guard.

Urine cannot be expelled [without drops sprinkling] even in a permanent lavatory unless one squats. If [the floor is covered] with soft dust, [drops will not sprinkle] even when one stands. If the floor is hard, one should stand on an incline [and urinate], so that drops will not sprinkle on him.

Halacha 19

When a person is wearing tefillin and must relieve himself in the evening, when there would be no time left in the day to put them on again after he finishes, he should not enter a lavatory, [holding them] rolled up in his clothes.

What should he do [instead]? He should remove them and place them in their container if it is a handbreadth in size, or in another container which is not specific for them even though it is not a handbreadth in size. He should hold the container in his hand when he enters the lavatory. Similarly, if he needs to relieve himself at night, he should place them in a container and enter the lavatory, holding the tefillin in his hand.

Halacha 20

If a person forgot and entered a lavatory while wearing tefillin, he should cover them with his hand until he completes expelling the first issue of feces or urine, and then leave the lavatory, remove the tefillin, return, and complete relieving himself. Were one to interrupt in the midst of expelling the first outburst of feces or urine, he might become very dangerously ill.

Halacha 21

If a person forgot and had intercourse while wearing tefillin, he should not hold either the straps or the compartments themselves until he washes his hands. [Then, he should] remove them. [This restriction was instituted] because hands are active.

Halacha 22

[The following rules apply to] a person who enters a bathhouse: In the rooms where people stand clothed, it is permitted to put on tefillin. In the rooms where some of the people stand naked and some clothed, one need not remove one's tefillin, nor, at the outset, should one put tefillin on there. In the rooms where [everyone] stands naked, one should remove one's tefillin and, needless to say, one should not put them on.

Halacha 23

A person should not walk in a cemetery wearing his head tefillin. Even [outside a cemetery], a person should remove his tefillin if he comes within four cubits of a corpse or a grave, until he distances himself four cubits from them.

A person should not put on tefillin [when he is naked]. He must first cover his genitalia and put on his clothes.

A person who is carrying a load on his head should remove his head tefillin [and not put it on again] until he puts down his load. It is even forbidden to wear a handkerchief around one's head when wearing tefillin. One may, however, wear a hat over the tefillin.

Halacha 24

When tefillin or a Torah scroll are in a room, it is forbidden to engage in sexual relations, unless they are removed or placed into a container, and that container placed into a second container which is not specific to them. If, however, the second container designated for them, even ten containers are considered as a single container.

Should a person place [the sacred articles] in two containers, he may place them at the head of his bed, between a cushion and a pillow, as long as they are not under his head, so that he can protect them. [This applies] even if his wife is together with him in bed.

Halacha 25

The holiness associated with tefillin is very great. As long as a person is wearing tefillin on his head and arm, he will be humble and God-fearing and will not be drawn to frivolous behavior or empty speech. He will not turn his thoughts to evil matters, but rather will direct his heart to words of truth and justice.

Accordingly, a person should try to wear [tefillin] throughout the entire day, for this is the mitzvah associated with them. Among the praises conveyed upon Rav, the student of Rabbenu Hakadosh, was that he was never seen walking four cubits without [reciting words of] Torah, without tzitzit, and without tefillin.

Halacha 26

Although it is a mitzvah to wear [tefillin] throughout the entire day, it is most important during prayer. Our Sages declared: "Whoever recites the Shema without tefillin is considered as if he is giving false testimony."

Whoever does not wear tefillin transgresses eight positive commandments, for in each of the four passages contained in the tefillin we are commanded to wear both head and arm tefillin. [The rewards for wearing tefillin are also great.] Whoever wears tefillin regularly will live long, as [implied by Isaiah 38:16]: "God is upon them, they shall live."

Commentary Halacha 1

Where are the head tefillin placed? - Though all four Biblical passages state that the tefillin should be worn "between your eyes," Menachot 37b establishes a correlation between these verses and Deuteronomy 14:1, "Do not place a bald spot between your eyes," and explains that, just as in the latter verse, "between your eyes" refers to the skull, so, too, the verses which concern tefillin imply a place on the skull.

They should be placed at the point of the skull, the end of the hairline towards the face - The Tur (Orach Chayim 27) states that the place for the head tefillin is the point of the skull, "the end of the hairline towards the face until the place where a child's brain [can be felt] to pulsate." In his commentary on the Tur, Rav Yosef Karo notes the difference in phraseology between the Tur and the Rambam, and in his Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 27:9), he quotes the Tur's text.

the place where a child's brain [can be felt] to pulsate. - Our translation is based on the Kessef Mishneh. Instead of "pulsate," Rashi (Menachot 37a) interprets רופס as "is soft."

Care must be taken to position them in the center - of the head,

so that they will be - parallel to the place

"between the eyes." - However, to place the tefillin actually between one's eyes is forbidden and is considered as heresy (Halachah 3; Megillah 4:7).

The knot - mentioned in Chapter 3, Halachah 13

should be at the top portion of the neck - Menachot 35b states that lifting the knot to the top portion of the neck will cause "Israel to be above and not below."

the bottom of the skull. - the portion opposite the face. Care should be taken that the knot be positioned in the center of the neck and not move from side to side (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 27:10). This point is directly opposite the space between the eyes.

Commentary Halacha 2

The arm [tefillin] should be tied to one's left arm -Menachot 37a brings a number of exegetical references which indicate that tefillin should be placed on the left arm. Among them, "It is written, 'And you shall tie' and 'And you should write.' Just as writing is done with the right hand, so, too, tying should be done with the right hand." Tying tefillin with one's right hand implies that they are placed on the left.

at the muscle - but not above the muscle (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 27:2; Mishnah Berurah 27:4)

i.e., the bulging flesh of the arm between the shoulder and the elbow. - Menachot 37b explains that though the verse literally states that tefillin should be placed on the hand, the exegesis of several verses indicates that they are placed on the muscle. The interpretation of the verse, "And these words..." quoted by the Rambam is one of the proofs cited there.

Thus, if one presses his arm to his ribs, the tefillah will be opposite his heart - The tefillin, and, in particular, the yud of the knot, should be tilted to face the heart (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 27:1,2).

thus, fulfilling the directive [Deuteronomy 6:6], "And these words... shall be upon your heart." - This position implies that one should subjugate the desires and feelings of his heart to God (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 25:5).

Commentary Halacha 3

A person who places the arm tefillah on his palm - in contrast to our Sages' definition of the phrase, "on your hand"

or the head tefillah on his forehead - in contrast to our Sages' definition of the phrase, "between your eyes"

follows the way of the Sadducees. - In his commentary on Avot 1:3, the Rambam writes that Tzadok and Baithos were students of Antigonus of Socho. When they heard their teacher declare, "Do not serve the master for the sake of receiving a reward," they were upset, since they thought that he was implying that no reward would be given for the performance of mitzvot. They spoke about the matter between themselves and decided to reject the Torah.

They began splinter groups which rejected the core of Jewish practice, and coveted material wealth. They found that they could not convince the majority of the people to reject the Torah entirely, so they adopted a different tactic. They claimed that they were true to Torah, but the only Torah that was Divine was the Written Law. The Oral Law was merely a human invention.

This thesis was only a ruse to sway the people from the performance of the mitzvot. Accordingly, the Sages would frequently refer to all those who deny the Torah and its tradition to be Sadducees ("followers of Tzadok") or Baithosees ("followers of Baithos").

A person who makes his tefillin rounded like a nut - Megillah 24b, the source for this law, adds, "they are dangerous," for they can fracture the person's skull. Though absent in the standard published edition, this line is included in many texts of the Mishneh Torah. The Kessef Mishneh, however, explains the line's omission since it does not teach us any halachic concepts.

does not fulfill the mitzvah at all - because, as stated in Chapter 3, Halachah 1, tefillin must be square.

A left-handed person puts tefillin on his right hand, since [figuratively,] it is his left hand. - Menachot 37a states that tefillin must be placed on the weaker hand. For a left-handed person, this is the right hand.

If he is ambidextrous, he should place them on his left hand - i.e., his left hand in a literal sense. - Note the Ramah (Orach Chayim 27:6), who explains that everything depends on the hand with which the person writes. If he writes with his left hand, the tefillin should be placed on the right.

Rav Shlomo Kluger, the Tzemach Tzedek, and other later authorities have dealt with questions concerning people who are ambidextrous to varying degrees. Frequently, they have advised that such a person wear tefillin on one of his arms during the prayer service, and afterwards place them on the other arm, to make sure that he fulfills the mitzvah.

The places where to tie and place - The arm tefillah is "tied," while the head tefillah is "placed." This reflects the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:8, "And you shall tie them... on your hand and they shall be... between your eyes." We must actually tie the arm tefillin upon our bodies. In contrast, the mitzvah of the head tefillin is that "it be" - i.e., be positioned in its appropriate place.

the tefillin were received as part of the oral tradition. - In his Introduction to the Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam explains that, on Mount Sinai, Moses was given instructions how to observe all the mitzvot. This constituted the "oral tradition." Though the Sages of the Talmud may have used certain verses from the Torah as allusions to these instructions, the fulfillment of the mitzvot began at Sinai (or shortly afterwards, depending on the mitzvah). The people did not need the allusions from the Torah to tell them how to fulfill the mitzvot, since they had already received this information orally from Moses.

To relate these concepts to the present context: Although the Sages mentioned several exegetical references to the places where tefillin are worn, it is not that the Sages discovered the proper position for tefillin. Rather, directly after they were given the commandment to put on tefillin, the Jews placed them on their arms and heads. Years later, the Sages sought allusions for these practices in the Written Law.

Commentary Halacha 4

The [absence of the] head tefillah does not preclude [wearing tefillin] on the arm - i.e., if a person does not have a head tefillah or is in a situation where it is inappropriate to wear the head tefillah (see Halachah 23), he should still wear the arm tefillah

and similarly, the [absence of the] arm tefillah - or if a person lost the arm on which he should place tefillin

does not preclude [wearing tefillin] on the head. - The Kessef Mishneh mentions a version of the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Menachot 4:1) which differs with this ruling. Rav Kapach explains that he is referring to the initial version of the Commentary on the Mishnah, which the Rambam later revised.

In that initial version, the Rambam explains (based on Menachot 44a) that the Sages feared that if a person were given license to wear only one tefillah, he might hesitate from purchasing the other one. Therefore, they allowed one to wear a single tefillah only when he already possessed the second one. When the Rambam reviewed that commentary, he emended the text to concur with the decision here.

They are two mitzvot, each one to be considered independently. - Since there are two different commandments in the Torah, "And you shall tie... and they shall be...," they are regarded to be two separate mitzvot.

What blessings are recited? On the head tefillin, one recites: - See the following halachah, where the Rambam explains that, generally, it is proper to recite only a single blessing.

"[Blessed are You...] who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the mitzvah of tefillin." On the arm tefillin, one recites: "[Blessed are You...] who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to put on tefillin." - It is possible to explain the difference in the two blessings as follows: With regard to the arm tefillin, the Torah states, "And you shall tie them," requiring a deed, and hence the expression "put on." In contrast, the head tefillin are required "to be... between your eyes." Since less emphasis is placed on our actions, it is appropriate to praise God "concerning the mitzvah of..." (Rav Yehudah ben Yakar).

Commentary Halacha 5

When does the above apply? When one puts on only one of them. - As mentioned in the previous halachah, at times one can put one on without the other. On such occasions, the appropriate blessing should be recited for each tefillah.

If, however, one puts them both on - one after the other without interruption. (The rulings governing an interruption are discussed in the following halachah.)

one recites only a single blessing, "...to put on tefillin." - This phrase can also refer to putting on the head tefillin, since both mitzvot share the same intent. Hence, if no interruption is made between the two, it is unnecessary - and therefore, we are forbidden - to recite a second blessing.

This ruling is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 25:5) and is followed by all Sephardic authorities and some Ashkenazic authorities. The majority of the Ashkenazic community follows the opinion of Rabbenu Asher (quoted by the Ramah, Orach Chayim, loc. cit.) which maintains that the two blessings should be recited even when no interruption is made between putting on the two tefillin.

This opinion agrees that the blessing "...to put on tefillin" also applies to the head tefillin. Therefore, even according to this opinion, it is forbidden to make an interruption between putting on the two tefillin; nevertheless, the Sages instituted a second blessing in recognition of the unique importance and holiness of the head tefillin.

The later authorities have added that because of the possibility that the second blessing is being recited in vain, one should recite the phrase Baruch shem kavod malchuto le'olam va'ed.

One should tie the tefillin on one's arm - Rabbenu Asher and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 25:11) write that one should put on the head tefillin directly after tying the tefillin to the arm, before continuing to wind the straps around the hand. Thus, no interruption at all will be made between the fulfillment of the two mitzvot.

There are, however, certain opinions (see the commentary of Rav David Arameah) that maintain that since tying the arm tefillin around the middle finger is an essential element of the mitzvah, this should be done before putting on the head tefillin.

Our present practice follows the Ari zal who would wind the tefillin straps around his forearm, put on the head tefillin, and then, tie the straps around his hand (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 25:24, Mishnah Berurah 25:38).

and afterwards, put on the head tefillin - following the order stated in the Biblical commandment (Menachot 36a).

When one removes them, the head tefillin should be removed, and then the arm tefillin. - Menachot (loc. cit.) continues, explaining that the phrase, "they shall be totafot (plural) between your eyes," teaches us that "as long as the tefillin are 'between your eyes,' 'they should be' - i.e., one should wear both tefillin. Thus, the head tefillah should be removed before the arm tefillah.

Commentary Halacha 6

[After] reciting the blessing, "...to put on tefillin," and tying the tefillin on one's arm, one is forbidden to talk - for doing so would constitute an interruption between putting on the two tefillin. Other interruptions - e.g., to signal to a colleague or to wink at him - are also forbidden. They do not, however, require a second blessing.

even to respond to a greeting from one's teacher - The Rambam chooses this example because a person is required to show deference to his teacher. Accordingly, although normally one is forbidden to interrupt the recitation of the Shema, one may do so to greet his teacher or return his greetings, according to the rules outlined in Hilchot Kri'at Shema 2:15-16.

The comparison to a teacher is also significant from a different perspective. Hilchot Kri'at Shema (loc. cit.) discusses when one may interrupt one's prayers "because of fear" - e.g., when one encounters a gentile king. Whenever an interruption is allowed in deference to such a king, one may also respond to Barchu, Kedushah, or Kaddish, for they are expressions of deference to the King of kings (Tur, Orach Chayim 66).

From the fact that the Rambam mentions the prohibition against talking between putting on the two tefillin in the context of deference to one's teacher, one might assume that he would allow an interruption in the above situations when deference to God is involved. Though this opinion is accepted by many early and later authorities (Rabbenu Tam, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi), the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 25:10) forbids making such an interruption.

until he puts on the head tefillin. If he talks, it is considered to be a transgression - since, by doing so, he obligates himself to recite a second blessing that would otherwise not be required. Reciting an unnecessary blessing violates the prohibition, "Do not take the name of God, your Lord, in vain" (Exodus 20:7).

Based on Deuteronomy 20:8, the Sages explained that the Jewish army should be composed only of righteous men. Any sinners were excused from military service. Significantly, there are opinions which consider this transgression significant enough for a person to be included in this category (Sotah 44b).

[In such an instance,] one is required to recite the second blessing, "...concerning the mitzvah of tefillin," and then put on the head tefillin. - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 25:9) requires that the person also repeat the blessing "...to put on tefillin" in this instance. According to his opinion, the blessing "...concerning the mitzvah of tefillin" was instituted as praise for the special holiness of the head tefillin, and is not recited for the performance of the mitzvah itself.

Commentary Halacha 7

Whenever a person puts on tefillin - This halachah may be difficult for many people to comprehend, because they associate wearing tefillin with the prayer service alone. In truth, as explained in Halachot 10, 25, and 26, the mitzvah of tefillin applies throughout the entire day, and the restriction of wearing them only during the prayer service is a relatively recent development.

even if he removes them and puts them on several times throughout the day - Every moment one wears tefillin, one fulfills a mitzvah. Therefore, it is proper to recite a blessing each time one puts them on.

he should recite a blessing for them. - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 25:12) states that if a person removes his tefillin with the intent of putting them on again in the near future, it is not necessary for him to recite a blessing.

With regard to all mitzvot: one recites a blessing for them before performing them. - See Hilchot Berachot 11:2-8 for a discussion of this principle.

Therefore, one should recite the blessing for the arm tefillah after placing it on one's muscle - and not beforehand, so that the blessing is recited directly before the mitzvah is fulfilled (Kessef Mishneh).

before tying it - i.e., tightening the knot around the muscle

since tying it comprises the fulfillment of the mitzvah. - See the commentary on Halachah 3.

One should recite the blessing for the head tefillah after placing it on one's head, before adjusting the straps around the head (Ramah, Orach Chayim 25:8).

Commentary Halacha 8

When a person removes his tefillin to place them in a container - This refers to the bag in which the tefillin are held, and not the cases in which they are usually placed. Based on Shulchan Aruch HaRav 25:3, it appears that as long as the tefillin are enclosed in these cases, the laws mentioned below would be modified slightly.

he should not place the arm tefillah below and the head tefillah above, because when he wants to put them on, he will encounter the head tefillah first. - From Shulchan Aruch HaRav 25:3 and the Mishnah Berurah 25:3, it appears that "encounter" must be taken literally. One need not actually hold the tefillin for these laws to apply.

Thus, he will [be forced to] ignore it and take out the arm tefillah, since one should not put on the head tefillah before the arm tefillah - as explained in Halachah 5.

[This is undesirable because] it is forbidden for a person to ignore one mitzvah and proceed to the fulfillment of another mitzvah. - From the Rambam's statements, it appears that even when one encounters the head tefillin first, it is proper to put on the arm tefillin first. Although there are authorities (e.g., Rabbenu Yerucham) who do not accept this decision, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 25:6) rules in this manner.

This decision can be explained as follows: The concept not to bypass the performance of a mitzvah is a Rabbinic law. (Although below, a verse from the Torah is cited as the source for this concept, that verse is merely an allusion.) In contrast, the obligation to put the arm tefillin on first is derived from the Torah itself. Hence, it is given priority (Mishneh Berurah 25:23).

Rather, as soon as a mitzvah comes to a person's hand, he should occupy himself with it. - On Exodus 12:17, "And you shall watch the matzot," the Mechilta comments, "Do not read 'matzot'; read 'mitzvot,' and explains that just as matzot must be baked hurriedly so they do not leaven, mitzvot should be performed with eagerness, without delay.

Therefore, a person should place the arm tefillin above, so that he will encounter it first, and thus put on the tefillin in the proper sequence. - The Rambam's statements are quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 28:2). Shulchan Aruch HaRav 28:8 and the Mishnah Berurah 28:7, however, suggest that it is preferable not to place the arm tefillin directly above the head tefillin, because the head tefillin possess a higher level of holiness (Chapter 3, Halachah 17). Rather, a wide bag should be made, where they can be placed side by side, with the arm tefillin slightly above.

Commentary Halacha 9

A container that was made for tefillin to be placed in and which was used - even once (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 42:3)

for that purpose - As will be explained, both these particulars are necessary.

becomes holy. It is forbidden to use it for mundane purposes. - e.g., to serve as a container for ordinary articles. If, however, when the container was made, the person had the intent to use it for tefillin only temporarily, and then to use it for another purpose, the Ramah (Orach Chayim, loc. cit.) allows it to be used for mundane purposes.

If a container was prepared for that purpose, but never used for it - This ruling depends on the principle mentioned in the commentary on Chapter 3, Halachah 17, that הזמנה, designating an article to be used for a sacred purpose, is not sufficient for holiness to be imparted to the article. It must first be used for the purpose for which it was intended.

or if a container was temporarily - Shulchan Aruch HaRav 42:4 and the Mishnah Berurah 42:24 explain that even if a person used a container for tefillin many times, as long as he never intended the container to be used for this purpose continually, it is not considered as holy. Should, however, a person even once consider the container as intended for tefillin, it may never be used for another purpose.

used for tefillin, but was not prepared for that purpose, it does not become holy. Rather, it is considered an ordinary article as before. - Shulchan Aruch HaRav, loc. cit., allows one to use the container for mundane purposes at the same time it is used for tefillin. The Mishnah Berurah 42:26, however, suggests that this does not show respect for the tefillin.

It is forbidden to suspend tefillin - from a hook. Doing so is considered as disgracing the mitzvah. Berachot 24a states, "The life of a person who hangs tefillin will also hang [by a thread]."

[This applies regardless of whether one suspends them] by their straps or from the tefillah itself. - Holding the head tefillin by the straps and letting the tefillah hang while putting it on is not included in this prohibition (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 40:1; Mishnah Berurah 40:1). It is, nevertheless, proper to put them on without letting the tefillah hang.

One may, however, suspend the bag in which they are placed.

Commentary Halacha 10

The time for wearing tefillin is the day and not the night - The laws concerning continuing to wear tefillin at night are discussed in the following halachah.

Significantly, the Tur (Orach Chayim 29, 30) and subsequent Ashkenazic authorities maintain that, according to Torah law, tefillin should be worn at night. We nevertheless do not wear them during those hours, because of a Rabbinic decree lest we fall asleep while wearing them.

as [Exodus 13:10] states: "And you shall observe this statute in its appointed time, from day to day." "This statute" refers to the mitzvah of tefillin. - Most commentaries on the Torah interpret "this statute" as referring to the Paschal sacrifice, and render the Hebrew מימים ימימה as "from year to year." Though this is the accepted meaning with regard to the Torah's simple interpretation, from a Halachic perspective the matter is the subject of a debate between the Sages (Menachot 36b), and the interpretation quoted by the Rambam is advanced by Rabbi Yosse HaG'lili.

Similarly, Sabbaths and holidays - The expression יום טוב generally refers to the days of the festival on which it is forbidden to do work - and not chol hamo'ed, the intermediate days. Thus, it would appear that the Rambam requires wearing tefillin on chol hamo'ed. Similarly, the Kessef Mishneh citesHilchot Sh'vitat Yom Tov 7:13 which also appears to indicate that one should put on tefillin on chol hamo'ed.

The Kessef Mishneh concludes by stating that, originally, it was customary to wear tefillin on chol hamo'ed. Afterwards, the later Rabbis discovered a statement of the Zohar Chadash (Shir HaShirim 1:3), which severely criticizes those who wear tefillin on these days, and the custom of not wearing tefillin spread.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 31:1) forbids wearing tefillin on chol hamo'ed. The Ramah (loc. cit.) maintains that they should be worn and a blessing recited. At present, even those who wear tefillin on chol hamo'ed generally do not recite a blessing (Mishnah Berurah 31:8). In the Sephardic and Chassidic communities and, similarly, in all communities in Eretz Yisrael, it is customary not to wear tefillin on these days.

are not days on which tefillin [are worn] - Not only are we not obligated to wear tefillin on these days, doing so is considered to be a disgrace to the Sabbath and a transgression of the prohibition forbidding us to add to the Torah's commandments (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 31:1; Mishnah Berurah 31:5). (See also the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah: Eruvin 10:1; Beitzah 1:10.)

as [Exodus 13:9] states: "And they shall be a sign for you." - The citation of this proof-text reflects a general pattern within the Mishneh Torah. As mentioned in Menachot (loc. cit.), there is a debate whether the verse, "And you shall observe this statute..." applies to tefillin or the Pesach.

Rabbi Yosse HaG'lili interprets the verse as referring to tefillin, and explains that it teaches that tefillin should not be worn at night, nor on Sabbaths and holidays. Rabbi Akiva differs, and interprets the verse as referring to the Paschal sacrifice. Though he maintains that tefillin should be worn at night, he agrees that they should not be worn on Sabbaths and holidays, and derives that concept from the verse, "And they shall be a sign...."

The Rambam quotes the proof-texts cited by both the differing opinions because each one clearly alludes to the halachic principles he seeks to express (Radbaz, Vol. V, Responsum 1693). For this same reason, he sees no difficulty in quoting the verse, "And you shall observe these statutes..." in Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh 1:7 according to the interpretation of Rabbi Akiva.

Since the Sabbaths and the holidays are themselves signs - See Exodus 31:13: "It (the Sabbath) is a sign between Me and you." This sign refers to the mitzvot associated with the Sabbath and holidays (Tosafot) or to the prohibition against performing work on these days (Rabbenu Asher).

[the sign of tefillin is unnecessary]. - Two witnesses are required by Torah law. Thus, at all times we must have two signs of our commitment to Torah. One is circumcision; the other, either tefillin, or the Sabbath or the festivals.

When does the time to put them on begin? When one can see -13 Rabbenu Yonah explains that tefillin are associated with sight because the Torah also mentions them in connection with that sense.Menachot 35b interprets the verse, "And all the nations of the earth shall see that the name of God is called upon you" (Deuteronomy 28:10), as a reference to tefillin.

a colleague standing four cubits away - The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:2) explains that this refers to a colleague with whom one shares occasional contact. One would recognize a close friend easily, and a person with whom one is not acquainted would never be recognized.

and recognize him. - This time is between עלות השחר, "dawn," the first shinings of the sun's rays, and הנץ החמה, "sunrise," the appearance of the sun on the horizon.

[It continues] until sunset - More particularly, most authorities interpret the Rambam to be referring to the appearance of the stars. The Ari zal, however, states that the tefillin should be removed at sunset (Mishnah Berurah 30:15).

Commentary Halacha 11

It is permitted for a person who put on tefillin before sunset to continue wearing them after nightfall. - Menachot 36a relates that Rav Ashi wore his tefillin at night.

They may even remain upon him the entire night. - One must, however, remove them before going to sleep. Sleeping in tefillin is forbidden, as stated in Halachah 15.

This law, however, is not to be taught in public - lest the common people fail to treat the matter with the proper concern.

Instead, everyone should be taught not to wear tefillin at night and to remove them before sunset. - lest one fall asleep while wearing them.

A person who puts on tefillin after sunset transgresses a Scriptural prohibition - This prohibition is not, however, included as one of the 613 mitzvot, nor is it punished by lashes. The Radbaz (Vol. V, Responsum 1468) explains that since a person may continue wearing tefillin at night, we see that this prohibition does not have the same force as others. Therefore, its violation is not punished by lashes.

as [implied by Exodus 13:10]: "And you shall observe - The word השמר and its derivitives connote a Torah prohibition (Menachot 36b).

this statute... from day to day." - The Rambam's statements represent an intermediate position between the opinions of the Ashkenazic authorities, who maintain that the prohibition against wearing tefillin at night is merely a Rabbinic decree, and the practice of "the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael who would recite the blessing, 'who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to observe His statutes' before removing their tefillin at night.

According to the Rambam, the prohibition against wearing tefillin at night stems from the Torah. A blessing, nevertheless, is not required when removing them.

Commentary Halacha 12

When a person is wearing tefillin in the midst of a journey and the sun sets, marking the commencement of the Sabbath - Our translation follows the standard published text of the Mishneh Torah, which reflects Rashi's commentary in Beitzah 15a.

Other versions of the text divide the halachah in two: with the first clause speaking about nightfall during the week, and the second clause speaking about the commencement of the Sabbath. The manner in which these laws are stated in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 30:4) follows the latter version.

he should cover them with his hand - so that others will not see him and think that it is proper to wear tefillin at this time

until he reaches his home - Since one wears tefillin like a garment, taking them home in this manner does not constitute a violation of the prohibition against carrying on the Sabbath.

and then remove them. - According to the versions which state that this clause applies during the week, the person does not remove the tefillin and carry them during his journey, lest they fall from his hand.

If he is sitting in the house of study - In Talmudic times, the houses of study were located in the fields, and it was not safe to leave articles there.

and the sun sets, marking the commencement of the Sabbath - The authorities agree that this refers to sunset and not the appearance of the stars, since it is forbidden to carry from sunset onwards.

he should cover them with his hand until he reaches his home, and then remove them.

If there is a house located near the wall [of a city] where they would be safe, he should place them there. - This applies both on the Sabbath and during the week. Since the person has a safe place where the tefillin could be kept, he is not allowed to continue wearing them.

If, however, he did not remove his tefillin after sunset because he did not have a place where they would be safe, it is permissible for him to continue wearing them in order to protect them. - The Kessef Mishneh explains that, although in the previous halachah, the Rambam had also stated that it is permissible to continue wearing tefillin at night, people should not be informed about this leniency. In contrast, when one's intent is to protect the tefillin, one may wear them without compunction (Kessef Mishneh). One may not, however, put on tefillin at night even for the purpose of protecting them (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 30:4; Mishnah Berurah 30:9).


Commentary Halacha 13

All those who are exempt from the obligation to recite the Shema - This includes:
a) women and Canaanite slaves (Hilchot Kri'at Shema 4:1), who are not obligated by either of these mitzvot, since these mitzvot are associated with certain time limits (מצות עשה שהזמן גרמה).
b) minors, who, according to Torah law, are not obligated to perform any mitzvot. (There is, however, a Rabbinic obligation to educate them in the performance of mitzvot.)
c) individuals whose thoughts are unsettled or who are occupied with the performance of other mitzvot. (See the subsequent halachot of Hilchot Kri'at Shema, Chapter 4.)

are exempt from the obligation to wear tefillin. - Significantly, in Hilchot Tzitzit 3:9, the Rambam mentions that women and slaves may wear tzitzit or perform any other mitzvah which they are not obligated to fulfill. Perhaps, he does not make that statement with regard to tefillin, because as the Ramah (Orach Chayim 38:3) states, the obligation to concentrate one's thoughts on the tefillin and to control one's body is the reason that women should not take on the practice of wearing tefillin. Our Sages, nevertheless, cite the example of Michal, King Saul's daughter, who would wear tefillin.

If a minor knows [the importance of] guarding his tefillin - who knows not to sleep, not to enter a lavatory, and not to release gas while wearing them (Shulchan Aruch, Ramah, Orach Chayim 37:3)

his father should obtain tefillin for him - In some Sephardic communities, it is customary for children to wear tefillin from the age of nine. In Ashkenazic communities, however, a minor begins putting on tefillin two to three months before becoming Bar-Mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 37:3; Mishnah Berurah 37:12).

to educate him regarding the performance of mitzvot. - Many times throughout the Mishneh Torah - e.g., Hilchot Tzitzit 3:9, Hilchot Berachot 5:1, Hilchot Sukkah 6:1 - the Rambam mentions a father's obligation to educate his children regarding the performance of mitzvot.

A person with stomach problems and anyone who can contain his excretory functions only with difficulty - because he may release gas (see Halachah 15) and because he may not be able to concentrate on the tefillin

are exempt from the obligation to wear tefillin. - If, however, one feels that he can control his body and thoughts for a limited time, he should wear them for that interval (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 38:2).

[In contrast,] all those ritually impure are obligated to wear tefillin like one who is pure. - See Hilchot Sefer Torah 10:8.

A person who suffers discomfort, or someone who is disturbed and cannot concentrate his thoughts, is exempt from the obligation to wear tefillin - The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 2:3) cites the example of Rabbi Yannai, who would not put on tefillin until the third day after he recovered from illness.

since a person who wears tefillin is forbidden to divert his attention from them. - as explained in the following halachah.

Priests who are in the midst of [the Temple] service - offering or partaking of the sacrifices

Levites who chant - while the sacrifices are being offered

on the platform - the three steps which separated the courtyard of the Israelites from the Priestly Courtyard. (See Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 6:2.)

and Israelites while they are attending the Temple [ceremonies] - This refers to the Israelites who were part of the ma'amadot and would attend the Temple service as emissaries of the entire Jewish people. (See Hilchot Klei HaMikdash 6:5.)

are exempt from the obligation to pray and to wear tefillin.- Since a person who is occupied with the performance of one mitzvah is exempt from the obligation of performing others (Rashi, Zevachim 19a).

That passage continues to explain that these individuals were allowed to wear tefillin - and would do so - with the exception of the priests, who would not wear the arm tefillin, for doing so would cause a separation between the priestly garments and their flesh. (See also Hilchot Klei HaMikdash 10:3,6.)

Commentary Halacha 14

A person should touch his tefillin - touching the arm tefillin before the head tefillin (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 28:1)

[from time to time] during the entire time he is wearing them - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, loc. cit.) quotes this law and adds that, in particular, one should touch the tefillin when reciting the verse, "And you shall tie them... and they shall be..." in the Shema.

so that he will not divert his attention - The Mishnah Berurah (28:1) also mentions that one should check that they have not moved from their proper place.

from them even for a single moment - As mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 25:5), when putting on tefillin, a person should intend "to subjugate his desires and thoughts to God." There is no need, however, for this intent to be in the forefront of one's thoughts throughout the entire time one is wearing tefillin. On the contrary, in Talmudic times (see Halachah 25), tefillin would be worn throughout the day, even during one's involvement in mundane affairs.

Accordingly, the Rabbis (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 28:1; Mishnah Berurah 44:3) explain that here, by "diversion of attention," the Rabbis meant that a person's mind should not become focused on frivolous matters or on his bodily needs to the extent that he forgets about the fear of God. Thus, the Ramah (Orach Chayim 38:4) states that a person who cannot control himself from thinking about lewd things should not put on tefillin, and Shulchan Aruch HaRav 38:8 and the Mishnah Berurah 38:30 free a person who is troubled by cold from the obligation of wearing tefillin.

The Sha'agat Arieh (Responsum 39), however, interprets the Rambam's words very strictly and maintains that, according to the Rambam, even the slightest diversion of attention from tefillin is forbidden.

for - The Rambam emphasizes that because tefillin possess such great holiness, diverting one's attention from them would be considered an act of disrespect, and is therefore forbidden (Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 14).

their holiness surpasses that of the tzitz. - The head-plate worn by the High Priest. (See Exodus 28:36-38; Hilchot Klei HaMikdash 9:1-2.)

The tzitz has God's name [written] upon it only once - The words קדש לי-ה-ו-ה (consecrated unto God) are embossed on it.

while the head tefillin - and similarly, the arm tefillin - contain the name י-ה-ו-ה 21 times - in the passages from the Torah they contain.

Commentary Halacha 15

Tefillin require a clean body - In this context,Shabbat 130a cites the example of Elisha, ba'al hak'nafayim.

i.e., that one should be careful not to release gas while wearing them. - As mentioned in Halachah 13, a person who cannot control himself and feels that he must release gas, is exempt from the obligation of wearing tefillin.

Accordingly, it is forbidden to sleep while wearing them - Shabbat 130a explains that the Rabbis forbade sleeping in tefillin lest one accidentally release gas. Significantly, the Rabbis did not consider sleeping a diversion of one's attention from the tefillin (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 44:1; Mishnah Berurah 44:3).

neither a long sleep nor a nap. If, however, one places a cloth over them - The Kessef Mishneh interprets Sukkah 26a as indicating that this will keep the person's attention focused on the tefillin and prevent him from releasing gas.

and a woman is not with him - lest this lead to sexual relations, which are forbidden in the presence of tefillin, as stated in Halachah 24.

one may nap while wearing them. What should he do? Place his head between his knees and sleep while sitting. - This will prevent him from falling into a deep slumber in which he might lose control of himself.

Commentary Halacha 16

A person who has tefillin wound around his hand - If, however, he is merely holding them, it is forbidden, lest they drop from his hand (Kessef Mishneh). The Ramah (Orach Chayim 44:1) states that if the tefillin are placed in a container, there are no restrictions.

is permitted to sleep with them. [This applies] even to a long sleep. - Since he is not wearing them, there is no difficulty even if he were to release gas (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 44:1; Mishnah Berurah 44:6).

He may eat only a snack - a meal of less than ak'beitzah, approximately 2 ounces in modern measure.

while wearing them. If, however, he enters to partake of a regular meal, he should remove them - lest he become drunk while eating and act in a manner unbecoming to the tefillin (Berachot 23b).

and place them on the table until after he washes his hands [at the conclusion of the meal]. - The Rambam discusses the obligation of washing after eating (mayim acharonim) in Hilchot Berachot 6:3.

Afterwards, he should put them on and recite grace over his meal while wearing them. - Wearing tefillin while reciting grace will add to one's concentration on the blessing.

Commentary Halacha 17

[The following rules apply with regard to a person] wearing tefillin who must use the lavatory - In Talmudic times, the lavatories were outhouses in the fields.

[He should remove his tefillin - Rashi (Berachot 23a) relates that this is a Rabbinic decree ordained lest one relieve himself while wearing them. There is no prohibition in the Torah itself against wearing tefillin in a place of filth.

[Note the contrast between this position and the prohibition against reciting prayers and other holy matters in a lavatory (Hilchot Kri'at Shema 3:2,4). The latter prohibition appears to have its source in the Torah itself.]

but,] while he enters, he should not place them in the holes [of the outer wall of the lavatory] which are near the public domain, lest they be taken by passersby. - Berachot 23b relates that once, a student of Torah left his tefillin in a hole in the wall of a public lavatory. A woman took them, and afterwards came to the house of study. She told the student's colleagues, "See what so-and- so gave me as payment."

When the student heard this, he climbed to the roof of the house of study to hide himself in shame. Shortly afterwards, he slipped and fell to his death. When the story became known, the Sages ordained that a person should bring his tefillin into a lavatory lest the story repeat itself.

What should he do? Even if he [merely] has to urinate, he should remove his tefillin four cubits away [from the lavatory] and roll them in his clothes like a Torah scroll - The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 43) points out that Rashi and other Ashkenazic authorities do not require that the tefillin be covered.

holding them near his heart with his right hand - since a person uses his left hand to wipe himself (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 43:3; Mishnah Berurah 43:20).

He must take care that the strap does not protrude more than a handbreadth from his hand. - The straps also possess a dimension of holiness, and hence, care should be taken regarding them.

Afterwards, he should enter and relieve himself. After leaving the lavatory and walking more than four cubits away - When our Sages established the decree forbidding a person from wearing tefillin in a lavatory, they added this distance as a safeguard.

he should put them on. - It must be emphasized that this and the following two halachot no longer apply, since, at present, homes are equipped with toilet facilities, and there is no longer a need to use public outhouses. At home, or in other places where one could keep the tefillin in a safe place, it is forbidden to wear tefillin in a lavatory (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 43:5).
1. See Halachah 11, which prohibits putting on tefillin after sunset.
2. As explained in Halachah 24, a container which is always used for tefillin or other sacred articles is considered as an accessory to the tefillin with no importance of its own. Thus, it is as if the tefillin are being held without any covering at all. Nevertheless, if it is a handbreadth in size, it is given halachic significance as an ohel. Hence, it is considered to be a separation between the tefillin and the lavatory.

Needless to say, these laws apply only when the person does not have a safe place where he can deposit his tefillin. If such a place is available, he may not bring tefillin into a lavatory (Kessef Mishneh).
3. See Halachah 24, which forbids engaging in intercourse in a room which contains tefillin that are open.
4. Thus, it is feared that they may have touched the genitalia (Rashi, Sukkah 26b). Note the Ramah (Orach Chayim 40:7), who prohibits a person from wearing tefillin if he has any traces of semen on his body.
5. This halachah is dependent on the description of a bathhouse inShabbat 10a. There were three rooms: a waiting room, a dressing room, and the actual bathing room.
6. Shulchan Aruch HaRav 45:3 and the Mishnah Berurah 45:5 explain that this applies even when no one there is actually naked. Those sources also state that these laws apply only in bathhouses which contain filth. In contrast, there are no restrictions against wearing tefillin in the bathing room of a mikveh if no people are standing there naked. Compare also to Hilchot Kri'at Shema 3:3-4, 16.

Commentary Halacha 23

A person should not walk in a cemetery - even if he is not within four cubits of a grave (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 45:1; Mishnah Berurah 45:1)

wearing his head tefillin. - Arm tefillin, however, need not be removed, for they can be worn under one's sleeve. As mentioned in Halachah 4, the two tefillin are two separate mitzvot, whose observance is not necessarily dependent on each other. One must be careful, however, to cover the straps of the arm tefillin, even those around one's hand and finger (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 45:2; Mishnah Berurah 45:3).

Even [outside a cemetery], a person should remove his - head

tefillin if he comes within four cubits of a corpse or a grave - Proverbs 17:5 states: "One who mocks the poor (רש) reproaches his Creator." Berachot 18a explains that the word רש can also refer to the dead, and states that performing mitzvot in the presence of a corpse or by his graveside would be, in a certain sense, mocking him, since he is unable to perform mitzvot. Accordingly, the Sages forbade Torah study, the recitation of the Shema, and the performance of other mitzvot in these situations.

until he distances himself four cubits from them. - Beyond this distance, one is not considered to be in the actual presence of the corpse. If a cemetery is surrounded by a wall, one may wear tefillin outside the wall even within four cubits of a grave, because the wall constitutes a separation (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 45:1; Mishnah Berurah 45:1).

A person should not put on tefillin [when he is naked]. He must first cover his genitalia - From the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 2:3), it appears that, in addition to wearing a cloak over one's body, one must also cover one's genitalia before putting on tefillin.

and put on his clothes. - Shulchan Aruch HaRav 45:3 and the Mishnah Berurah 45:5 associate this prohibition with the prohibition against standing naked in the presence of sacred texts.

A person who is carrying a load on his head should remove his head tefillin [and not put it on again] until he puts down his load. - Bava Metzia 105b considers this a lack of respect for the tefillin.

It is even forbidden to wear a handkerchief - or any other article which is not a garment and is not usually worn on one's head (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 41:1)

around one's head when wearing tefillin. One may, however, wear a hat over the tefillin. - Preferably, the tefillin themselves should not be covered. Since the hat is being worn as a garment, it is not considered disrespectful to the tefillin. Our Sages relate that the High Priest would wear his turban over the tefillin (Zevachim 19b), and the king would wear his crown above the tefillin (Avodah Zarah 44a).

Commentary Halacha 24

When tefillin or a Torah scroll are in a room, it is forbidden to engage in sexual relations, unless they are removed or placed into a container, and that container placed into a second container - These laws also apply with regard to sacred texts (Mishnah Berurah 40:4) and mezuzot (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 40:5).

which is not specific to them. - Covering the tefillin's container with another garment is sufficient. There is no need for a second container. The bag in which the tefillin bag and the tallit are placed is also considered specific to the tefillin bag and another covering is necessary (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 40:3; Mishnah Berurah 40:7).

If, however, the second container designated for them, even ten - or a hundred (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 40:2).

containers are considered as a single container. - Note that in Chapter 10, Halachah 7, the Rambam offers a third alternative: setting up a partition ten handbreadths high between a Torah scroll and the bed. This is also acceptable for tefillin. See also the commentary on that halachah.

Should a person place [the sacred articles] in two containers, he may place them at the head of his bed - Placing them at the foot of the bed is considered to be disrespectful to the tefillin and is forbidden, even though one is not sleeping together with one's wife (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 40:3).

between a cushion and a pillow - Our translation of רכ and תסכ is based on Rav Kapach's text of the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Shabbat 4:2. The Aruch renders the phrase, "between the mattress and the pillow."

as long as they are not under his head - Placing them under one's head would be tantamount to using them as a pillow and would be considered disrespectful to the tefillin. Hence, it is forbidden at all times (Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.).

so that he can protect them - from thieves; alternatively, from mice (Rashi, Berachot 24a).

[This applies] even if his wife is together with him in bed - and they intend to be intimate (Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.).

Commentary Halacha 25

The holiness associated with tefillin is very great. - See Halachah 14 above and also Hilchot Sh'vuot 11:11-12, where the Rambam equates the sanctity of tefillin with that of a Torah scroll.

As long as a person is wearing tefillin on his head and arm, he will be humble and God-fearing and will not be drawn to frivolous behavior or empty speech. - Berachot 30b relates that when Rabbah reproached Abbaye for light-headedness, which he thought would lead to frivolous behavior, Abbaye answered him, "I am wearing tefillin," implying that the tefillin would prevent him from losing self-control.

He will not turn his thoughts to evil matters, but rather will direct his heart to words of truth and justice. - Menachot 43b states that a person who wears tefillin on his head and arm will surely not sin.

Accordingly, a person should try to wear [tefillin] throughout the entire day - In Talmudic times, not only Torah scholars, but also common people would wear their tefillin throughout the entire day. In the later generations, this practice was generally followed only by Torah scholars, as the Hagahot Maimoniot relates in the name of Rav Amram Gaon:

We saw the Geonim, the heads of the court, and the giants of the previous generations... who would not remove their tefillin until after... the Shema of the evening service.

Nevertheless, at present, even Torah scholars have accepted the practice of wearing tefillin only during the morning prayers. This practice was instituted since tefillin require "a clean body" (Halachah 15) and one cannot divert his attention from them (Halachah 14), and most people cannot meet these requirements (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 37:2).

for this is the mitzvah associated with them. - Note the questions in the Pri Megadim and the Bi'ur Halachah (Orach Chayim 37): Is the mitzvah of tefillin to wear them all day, or is the mitzvah to put tefillin on once each day, with the remaining time one wears them being merely the continuation of the mitzvah.

Among the praises conveyed upon Rav, the student of Rabbenu Hakadosh - Though we find Megillah 28a conveying such praise on Rav Zeira, there is no passage in the Talmud which describes Rav in these terms. Nevertheless, the responsa of the Geonim (Damasek Eliezer 178) include these among the ten acts of pious behavior for which Rav was noted.

was that he was never seen walking four cubits without [reciting words of] Torah, without tzitzit, and without tefillin. - See Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 5:11, which describes such behavior as an example of Kiddush Hashem (the sanctification of God's name).

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