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Guide to Putting on Tefillin

Guide to Putting on Tefillin

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What is Tefillin?

You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes.

Deuteronomy 6:8

You have a brain. It is in one world. Your heart is in another. And your hands often end up involved in something completely foreign to both of them. Three diverse machines.

So you put on tefillin. First thing in the day, you connect your head, your heart and your hand with these leather cables—all to work as one, with one intent. And then, when you go out to meet the world, all your actions find harmony in a single coordinated purpose...

Tefillin are a pair of black leather boxes containing Hebrew parchment scrolls. A set includes two tefillin—one for the head and one for the arm. Each consists of three main components: the scrolls, the box and the strap. The scrolls are inserted into boxes made of leather that have been painted black.

One box is strapped on your head, and the other onto your arm next to your heart. It’s done once a day—preferably during the morning prayers. If that is not practical, say at least the passage called the Shema (found below). It’s done by Jewish males, age 13 and up, every day except Shabbat and major Jewish holidays.

1. Place on Arm

You have two black leather boxes with straps in your tefillin bag. One is for the arm, the other for the head. Take out the arm one first—that’s the one that’s one smooth box, rather than four compartments.

Remove the tefillin from the plastic case.

The arm-tefillin goes on the weaker arm: right-handed people do the left arm, lefties do the right arm.

Roll up your sleeve so that the tefillin is in direct contact with your arm. Put your arm through the loop formed by the knotted strap. Place the black box up on your bicep, just below the halfway point between the shoulder and the elbow, right across from your heart (see illustration).

Below are video instructions:


2. The Blessing on the Tefillin

Recite the blessing. If you can read and understand the original Hebrew, say it in Hebrew. Otherwise, you can say it in any language you understand.

Here’s the Hebrew text:

Here’s how it sounds:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Elo-heinu melech ha’olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu l’haniach tefillin.

Here’s what it means:

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to put on tefillin.

Audio: Tefillin Blessing (Ashkenaz)

Audio: Tefillin Blessing (Sefard)

Focus on what you’re doing. From the time you make the blessing until both tefillin are in place, do not talk. Don’t even wink. Just concentrate on hooking up your mind, heart and deeds, and binding them to G‑d.

3. Bind the Arm-Tefillin

Tighten the strap around your arm, mindful that the knot stays in direct contact with the box.

Continue to wrap: two more times over the strap-socket of the black box and around the biceps, then seven times around your arm and once around your palm. Leave the remainder of the strap loose.


Below are video instructions:


4. Place the Head-Tefillin

Next, get out the head-tefillin. Remove the tefillin from the plastic case. The box goes on your head, just above your forehead. Center it in the middle of your head directly above the point that’s right between your eyes. The daled-shaped knot should rest on the base of your skull.


Below are video instructions:


5. Tie on Hand

Now back to your hand. Wrap the remainder of the strap three times around your middle finger, like this: once around the base, then once just above the first joint, then one more time around the base. You’ve got some strap left over, so wrap it around your palm and tuck in the tail end.



Below are video instructions:


6. Recite the Prayers

It is best to pray the entire morning prayers in one’s tefillin. However, if this is not possible, at least say the Shema prayer:

In the original Hebrew:

Cover your eyes with your right hand and say:

Recite the following verse in an undertone:

Transliteration:

Cover your eyes with your right hand and say:
Sh’ma Yis-ra-eil, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, A-do-nai E-chad.

Recite the following verse in an undertone:
Ba-ruch sheim k’vod mal-chu-to l’o-lam va-ed.

V’a-hav-ta eit A-do-nai E-lo-he-cha b’chawl l’va-v’cha u-v’chawl naf-sh’cha, u-v’chawl m’o-de-cha. V’ha-yu ha-d’va-rim ha-ei-leh, a-sher a-no-chi m’tsa-v’cha ha-yom, al l’va-ve-cha. V’shi-nan-tam l’-va-ne-cha, v’di-bar-ta bam, b’shiv-t’cha b’vei-te-cha, uv-lech-t’cha va-de-rech, u-v’shawch-b’cha uv-ku-me-cha. Uk-shar-tam l’ot al ya-de-cha, v’ha-yu l’to-ta-fot bein ei-ne-cha. Uch-tav-tam al m’zu-zot bei-te-cha, u-vish-a-re-cha.

Translation:

Cover you eyes with your right hand and say:
Hear, O Israel, the L‑rd is our G‑d, the L‑rd is One.

Recite the following verse in an undertone:
Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.

You shall love the L‑rd your G‑d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. These words which I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. You shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.

By Chabad.org Staff
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Discussion (79)
May 9, 2016
RE: Removal of teillin
Take off the head tefillin first.
Menachem Posner
May 9, 2016
Re: Cover your eyes
A lefty still uses his or her right hand to cover the eyes.
Eliezer Zalmanov
for Chabad.org
May 6, 2016
Removal of teffillin
Can you please tell me which to take off first is it the head of the arm
Yakov
Miami beach
May 4, 2016
Cover your eyes
When reciting shema instructions say cover with right hand, is that day for righty and lefty teflin
Jacob
Toronto
March 14, 2016
Re: left handers
The location of the tefillin is specifically leveled with the heart, not necessarily directly at the heart, and that is the same regardless of which arm has the tefillin. This is similar to the head tefillin, which are placed on the head, directly above the nose, and not actually "between the eyes."
Eliezer Zalmanov
for Chabad.org
March 13, 2016
left handers
I am interested in the following conundrum: left handers are advised to bind the arm Tefillin on the right arm, the weaker arm (assuming that in right handers the left arm is weaker). The real reason for binding the arm Tefillin on the inner upper arm is to have it close to the heart, which is on our left side. The advice for left handers to bind on their right arm seems to assume that they have their heart on the right side. This is only the case in a medical condition called situs inversus which is exceptionally rare in both right and left handers. The vast majority of left handers have their heart on the left side. Have we left handers been doing it wrong?
Michael Gotz
United Kingdom
March 1, 2016
Must I say the Amidah after doing Tefillin?
bernard
Noosaville
February 29, 2016
To Bernard
If you recite the Amidah right after Shema, then you should leave your tefillin on for it.
Eliezer Zalmanov
for Chabad.org
February 29, 2016
To Bernard
It is more respectful for the tefillin to be put away in the bag until the next time you put them on.
The Shema is recited sitting.
It is not recommended to put on tefillin twice a day.
Eliezer Zalmanov
for Chabad.org
February 28, 2016
Do I stand or sit while saying the Sh'ma. Also, may I do Tefillin twice a day......morning and evening ( before it gets dark ).
Bernard
Noosa
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