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Tefillin Stories

A selection of inspiring stories about the mitzvah of tefillin.

Elie Wiesel, Tefillin and the Holocaust
Tefillin in Auschwitz—and elsewhere
Professor Wiesel replied: “I put on tefillin in Auschwitz every morning. I probably shouldn’t have done it. But I did.”
The Other Black Box on the Plane
He was standing with his huge prayer shawl, his tallis, draped over his head, with his tefillin strapped to his head and arm when a sweet-faced little girl skipped up to him and asked plainly: “What are you doing?”
Hi-tech Connectivity
"Where are there computers in the Torah?" Without hesitation the Rebbe answered, "Tefillin." The professor was perplexed
A Jew in a Jeep
"Tell me, Rabbi," he called out anxiously, "if... if I put on tefillin, will G-d protect me?"
For the Sake of Tefillin
How tefillin saved a person's life again and again -- during the Holocaust and in its immediate aftermath.
A Million Little Cables
"This was all good and well," explained the old navy diver, "when the ship had been under for a month or so. After that it would begin to rust and the hooks would bring up only huge chunks of iron, leaving the rest of the ship behind"
Another Day Without Tefillin?
In his reply the Rebbe wrote: “Do you think it is right that a Jew who put on tefillin yesterday for the first time in over twenty years should wait another six weeks for you to buy him a pair of tefillin?”
A Pair of Tefillin for Sandy Koufax
"That day the pitcher lost the game. But he won the World Series, and on his table were the tefillin," concluded the Rebbe. "In the end, he will give to them merit by putting them on"
Tefillin in the Concentration Camp
The Germans often remarked to the Jews, “Why don't you commit suicide . . . ?”
The Tefillin That Helped Cope With Life and With Death
Then with great effort he sat up in bed, took my hand, and said, "I have one very important last request to make of you." Tears flowed from his eyes...
The Tefillin Guru
Imprinted forever on the leather straps are lively testimonies to the spirit of the Jewish people. His hands have cast fingerprints that tell thousands of stories. This pair of tefillin is one of a kind – it vibrates with laughter and tears, and years of reviving souls around the world.
The Man Who Refused to Put on Tefillin on Fairfax Avenue
I was walking on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, California, when a Chabad rabbinical student asked me to put on tefillin. I blew up. I yelled at him, "You rotten Jew! You just embarrassed me in public." And I stormed away angrily.
Grandpa's Bar Mitzvah
What inspired my eighty-eight year old grandpa to finally celebrate his bar mitzvah
"Go find someone else to bother," he shot back at me. "I want nothing to do with you!" My head was spinning; I was hurt inside, yet knew I had done nothing disrespectful. Obviously, what I represent—being a religious Jew, wearing a beard and a kippah on my head— upset him so.
Tefillin on the Berm Between Iraq and Syria
While I was deployed to Iraq, a lone Jewish Marine Corps Officer among hundreds of Iraqi soldiers in a remote region of the Syrian border, I had to live with keeping my religious identity to myself. I couldn't even have "Jewish" on my dog-tags
Tefillin in the Sinai Desert?
I wanted a set of tefillin, the black ritual boxes donned on weekdays. I wanted to feel the binding on my arm and the weight of the tefillin on my head. I wanted to be reminded that G‑d is above me. But at Nahal Yam there were no tefillin.
What About Tomorrow?
The Rebbe had called for an intensification of the campaign to get Jewish men to put on tefillin. I thought of taking advantage of the regional B'nai Brith Youth Convention. What a statement that would be — close to two hundred B'nai Brith boys performing the mitzvah of tefillin! But could it be done?
Two Rabbis Came to the Door
I had been a seeker for many years by the time I knocked on the door of Lubavitch House...
Fulfilling a Promise at the
The rabbi finally got me to agree that I would put on tefillin at least once in my lifetime. I went home and never kept my end of the deal - I never put on a pair of tefilin...
Why Tefillin?
"When a Jew in Miami," the Rebbe said to me, "sees pictures of Jews at the Western Wall wearing tefillin, he gets an urge to put on tefillin himself."
Bound Together
Bound Together
It is amazing how, in one heartbeat, a good day can turn tragic, or a bad day can turn miraculous.
A Soldier's Blessing
I was at my father’s side in the empty prep room. The room was silent; just the two of us. Suddenly—this could happen only in Israel—someone swung open the door and jabbed his head in. “I’m looking for my friend . . .”
Reb Yankle
I suppose every twenty-year-old should have an eighty-eight-year-old friend
The Bulkhead
The death of a thousand cuts would have been preferable. I briefly considered crawling, until I realized that everyone would be able to see me anyway.
The Binding Contract
He told me that I hadn't come to Las Vegas to sell playpens...
Black Leather Straps
I started to pray every day in the only way one can do such a thing: religiously.
As I turned to walk away, he announced, "Wait a minute! I got more Jewish stuff too!" Then he said,"This is special," he grinned, "no?"
Tefillin Stress in the Airport
Almost in tears, I apologized to G-d and admitted that I just couldn't get myself to wear my tallit and tefillin in public.
Before I Said
Have you ever strolled on a college campus on a Saturday at eight in the morning? No one is around, no one is up. But I was—because I wasn’t going to get trapped into joining the minyan.
Tefillin on the Train
An Israeli public figure who couldn’t refuse a request to put on tefillin, and the emotional chain of events that followed . . .
Share Your Tefillin Experience
Take a few minutes to record your own personal experience of putting on Tefillin or your personal inspiration for putting on Tefillin.
Tefillin After 72 Years
“When was the last time you put on tefillin?” I asked. He smiled and proudly said, “72 years ago!” He held out his arm to show me the fading tattooed numbers. “1938. It was the day of Kristallnacht. Do you know what Kristallnacht is?”
Daddy’s Strength, His Tefillin and His Fight Against Cancer
He looks so strong in his tallit and tefillin, with the determination of a man prepared to fight, yet with the resignation of one discovering that his life is not in his control.
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