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How to Put on Tefillin

How to Put on 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: a dedicated service of the Almighty. 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. Say the Blessing

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.

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. Pray

Meditate for a moment.

Be conscious that G‑d Himself commanded that tefillin contain four Biblical passages which mention His Unity and the Exodus from Egypt, in order that we remember the miracles and wonders He performed for us, demonstrating that He has power and dominion over all.

Also note that He has enjoined us to place the tefillin on the arm adjacent to the heart, and on the head over the brain so that we submit our conscious soul (which is in the brain), as well as the desires and thoughts of our heart to Him.

Thus tefillin serve as an inspiring springboard to serve G‑d in a state of inspiration and to study Torah, His wisdom.

At very least, take a moment to remind yourself that tefillin is a mitzvah (commandment) of G‑d.

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:


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.


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.

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Discussion (88)
February 21, 2017
Thank you - very much appreciated
Brian Cohen
February 20, 2017
Brian Cohen

Tefillin may be put on before sunrise, but there is still an earliest time. Tefillin may not be put on at night. This is a quote from the Code of Jewish Law (Orach Chayim Section 30)

"The time to put them [Tefillin] in the morning is at the time when one can see his close friend from four cubits away and recognize him."

There is a wide range of opinions precisely when this measurement occurs. Generally, it is accepted that it is light enough to see your friend and recognize him long before actual sunrise.

For example, for me in California, earliest tefillin is at 5:48 AM, but sunrise is not until 6:34 AM.

For exact times of when one may put on tefillin each day, you can check You just put in your zip code, and it will give you exact halachic times.

If you still cannot manage to put on tefillin in the allotted time frame, speak with a rav, a halachic authority about what you should do.
Mendel Adelman
February 17, 2017
is it OK to lay Tefillin before sunrise?
Brian Cohen
December 31, 2016
What to think about
Hello, what should we think about when we put on the tefilins?
November 4, 2016
In other's not a prayer, but rather a declaration for the purpose of validating the mitzvah. Best of luck!
New York
October 26, 2016
Tefillin, Mezuzot, and Torah Scrolls, must be prepared with the intention of fulfilling their Mitzvah. Therefore, one must have in mind and verbally express that he is doing this for the sake of the Mitzvah. That is why one needs to say L'Sheim Kedushat Tefillin - for the sake of the sanctity of Tefillin - when applying the ink to the Tefillin.
Simcha Bart for
October 14, 2016
I have purchased some kosher ink to repair my teffilin. Someone told me there is a prayer to be said when you do this. Is this true? What is the prayer?
September 25, 2016
Wrapping up Tefillin
Wrap the straps around the protruding bases, wrapping them on both sides. Do not wrap them around the square boxes, as it would be disrespectful of the Torah verses within. Please see here for more detailed instructions.
Simcha Bart for
September 22, 2016
how do you wrap up the tefillin
May 9, 2016
RE: Removal of teillin
Take off the head tefillin first.
Menachem Posner
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