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On Which Days Do We Not Wrap Tefillin?

On Which Days Do We Not Wrap Tefillin?

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Question:

I've recently started wrapping tefillin every morning and saying the Shema. Eventually, I hope to build from there, especially once I move to a Jewish community where this is a daily minyan.

Like I said, I'm doing this every day. Now I'm told that I'm supposed to skip Shabbat mornings. Are there any other days to skip--and why?

Response:

Great to hear you've made this a habit. But even the best of habits needs a break once in a while. So here are the rules:

Jewish men (over the age of 13) wrap tefillin every day other than the holidays listed below:

Saturdays (Shabbat)
Rosh HaShanah
Yom Kippur
Sukkot
Passover
Shavuot

Concerning the intermediate days of Sukkot and Passover (chol hamoed), there are a number of divergent customs. Sephardim, Chassidim (including Chabad), and many Ashkenazim do not wear tefillin, while other Ashkenazim do. Among those who do wear tefillin, there are some who recite the accompanying blessings and some who do not. (Have a look at Do I put on tefillin on Chol Hamoed? for more on this.) Make sure to speak to your rabbi to ascertain what your community's practice is.

Now, you may ask, if these days are so special, shouldn't they be special for wrapping tefillin as well?

So here's the explanation taught by Rabbi Akiva, cited in the Talmud Menachot: The Torah (Exodus 13:9) refers to tefillin as a sign of the special bond between G‑d and the Jewish people. Shabbat and the holidays are also a sign (Exodus 31:13) of this bond. Since there already is the special sign of the holiday, the additional sign of the tefillin is superfluous. As rabbis and architects are wont to say, more is less. Wearing tefillin on those days would demean the sign of the holiday.

Also note, on the fast of Tisha B'Av, the donning of talit and tefillin is delayed until the afternoon, as a mark of mourning.

Your truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner


Sources
Talmud, Menachot, 36b.
Code of Jewish Law, O.C. 31, 555.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org. He lives with his family in Montreal, QC.
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Discussion (2)
December 5, 2013
Days we do not put on tefillin
Thank you for this most helpful site. It is of great comfort to have a site like Chabad. I would be hesitant to rely on just any other anonymous site.
Mark Steinfeld
Toronto
May 27, 2012
Response
It is always great to come to the internet and find an answer so well written with so much detail. The beauty of Judaism. It's not just a "religion" it's a way of life. Great job Rabbi wherever you are from.
Joseph Dadon (Joe)
New York , NY
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