“Excuse me; have you had an opportunity to put on tefillin today? That’s fine, I’d be happy to help you. It will only take a minute; I’ll do you the quick wrap.

“No, don’t worry, it wouldn’t be hypocritical to put them on, even though you don’t do it regularly. Sure, you’re supposed to put them on every day, but each day is its own, individual mitzvah.

“Haven’t done it for a while? That’s okay; it will come back to you. In fact, just a few months ago I put on tefillin with a 92-year-old man at his great-grandson’s bris. He hadn’t put on tefillin since the day of his own Bar Mitzvah, 79 years before. It was a really emotionalIt will come back to you moment; his children and grandchildren were crying and taking photos. Even he was overcome as he prayed. After we finished I had to do something to lighten the mood, so I advised him not to wait so long till the next time.

“Are you left- or right-handed? It makes a difference because the verse telling us about tefillin tells us to bind them ‘al yodecha,’ on your hand. Yodecha can also be read yad keha, ‘on your weaker hand.’

“Could you just roll back your sleeve a bit, please? We put the hand tefillin right there on the bicep, facing the heart. Your muscles symbolise strength and action and your heart is the seat of your emotions.

“Now we wrap the straps seven times around your forearm. In Kabbalistic thought there are said to be seven different emotions, seven ways of connecting your feelings to G‑d. What are those emotions? Well, there’s Kindness, Severity… actually, if you seriously want to learn more about them, would you like to set up a time to study with me?

“Do you know the aleph bet? Look at your arm, we’ve made a letter shin and a dalet and the little knot here is a yud. Together they spell out the name Sha-dai, one of Hashem’s names; the same one written on the outside of a mezuzah. Just like a Mezuzah on the front door denotes it as a Jewish house, so too when you’re dressed in tefillin you’re representing G‑dliness to the world.

“OK, ready for the head tefillin? If you’ll notice, this cube is made up of 4 thinner boxes, each one with a little parchment scroll rolled in it. They’re the same sections of the Torah as are in the tefillin on your arm, but that hasYou’re representing G‑dliness to the world just one, four-paragraph long scroll, while the head tefillin has them broken into individual sections.

“The brain is complex. We think different thoughts at different times. We intellectualize, analyze and approach our relationship with G‑d from a variety of perspectives, and therefore we split the head tefillin into multiple sections. However, there is less diversity when it comes to the heart; we love G‑d and He loves us. The emotional attachment to G‑d is far less complex, and that’s why we combine all the sections on the one parchment.

“OK, you’re all wrapped up. You see what we’ve done; we have them on the head, where you keep your brains and intellect, and on the heart, which is the seat of your emotions. Combine that with the arm, representing action, so when you put on tefillin, you’ve subjugated all your deeds, feelings and thoughts to G‑d.

“Now we’ll say the Shema together, and after we finish, if there’s anything or anyone you need to pray for, now’s a good time.

“And that’s it. You’ve just done the mitzvah of tefillin. Mazal Tov!”