SECTION 28 Laws Relating to Removing One’s Tefillin. (1–10)

סימן כח דִּין חֲלִיצַת הַתְּפִלִּין, וּבוֹ י סְעִיפִים:

1 It is forbidden to divert one’s attention from tefillin for even a moment1 as long as one is wearing them. This conclusion is derived from a comparison2 to the [High Priest’s] forehead plate. With regard to the forehead plate, it is written,3 “It shall be on his forehead at all times,” [and our Sages understand this to mean that] his mind should not be diverted from it.

The Divine name appears only once on the forehead plate.4 How much more so should tefillin, which contain numerous5 references to G‑d’s name, [command our constant attention].

The diversion of attention [which is forbidden] is levity or frivolity6 (or preoccupation with physical concerns to the extent that one’s heart turns away from the fear of G‑d because of this distraction). If, however, one is steadfast in his reverence [for G‑d] and engages in his own concerns, even if he is involved in his work or in his vocation and his attention is not focused directly on the tefillin, he is not considered to have diverted his attention. Otherwise, how could it be possible for everyone to wear tefillin throughout the day?7

Nevertheless, the choicest way of performing this mitzvah is not to divert one’s attention from [the tefillin] at all, except during the study of the Torah and the Shemoneh Esreh prayer.

א אָסוּר לְהַסִּיחַ דַּעְתּוֹ מֵהַתְּפִלִּיןא כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהֵן עָלָיוב אֲפִלּוּ רֶגַע אֶחָד,1 קַל וָחֹמֶר2 מִצִּיץ: מַה צִּיץ שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ אֶלָּא אַזְכָּרָה אַחַת4 – אָמְרָה תּוֹרָה:ג,3 "וְהָיָה עַל מִצְחוֹ תָּמִיד", שֶׁלֹּא יַסִּיחַ דַּעְתּוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ, תְּפִלִּין שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן אַזְכָּרוֹת הַרְבֵּה5 – עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה.

וְאֵינוֹ נִקְרָא הֶסַּח הַדַּעַת אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁעוֹמֵד בִּשְׂחוֹק אוֹ בְּקַלּוּת רֹאשׁד,6 (אוֹ שֶׁמַּטְרִיד דַּעְתּוֹ כָּל־כָּךְ לְצָרְכֵי הַגּוּףה עַד שֶׁלְּבָבוֹ פּוֹנֶה מִיִּרְאַת שָׁמַיִםו מֵחֲמַת טִרְדָּתוֹ), אֲבָל כְּשֶׁעוֹמֵד בְּיִרְאָה וּמִתְעַסֵּק בִּצְרָכָיו,ז אַף־עַל־פִּי שֶׁעוֹסֵק בִּמְלַאכְתּוֹ וּבְאֻמָּנוּתוֹ וְאֵין דַּעְתּוֹ עַל הַתְּפִלִּין מַמָּשׁ – אֵין זֶה נִקְרָא הֶסַּח הַדַּעַת, שֶׁאִם לֹא כֵן אֵיךְ יָכוֹל כָּל אָדָם לֵילֵךְ בִּתְפִלִּין כָּל הַיּוֹם.7

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם מִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר שֶׁלֹּא לְהַסִּיחַ דַּעְתּוֹ מֵהֶן כְּלָל,ח זוּלַת בִּשְׁעַת תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָהט וּבִתְפִלַּת שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה:

2 One is obligated to touch his tefillin at frequent intervals;8 i.e., whenever he recalls [that he is wearing] them, he should touch them. This will cause him to remember them continuously and prevent him from diverting his attention from them entirely.

[When he touches them,] he should touch the arm-tefillin first and then the head-tefillin, so as not to bypass a mitzvah, for the arm-tefillin are closer to his touch than the head-tefillin.

One is not required to touch [the tefillin] during the time of prayer, for at that time there is no cause for concern that he will divert his attention from them entirely, i.e., become involved in levity and frivolity. Nevertheless, it is advisable that he touch them so that his attention actually becomes focused upon them. This is the preferred manner of fulfilling the mitzvah.

It is a worthy custom to touch the tefillin when one mentions [this] mitzvah during the recitation of the Shema.9 I.e., he should touch the arm-tefillin when saying “And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand,” and [he should touch] the head-tefillin when saying “and they shall be a reminder10 between your eyes.”

ב חַיָּב אָדָם לְמַשְׁמֵשׁ בַּתְּפִלִּין בְּכָל שָׁעָה וְשָׁעָה,י,8 דְּהַיְנוּ בְּכָל פַּעַם שֶׁנִּזְכָּר בָּהֶםיא – חַיָּב לְמַשְׁמֵשׁ בָּהֶם,יב שֶׁעַל יְדֵי כָּךְ נִזְכָּר עֲלֵיהֶם תָּדִיר, וְלֹא יַגִּיעַ לִידֵי הֶסַּח הַדַּעַת גָּמוּר. וִימַשְׁמֵשׁ בְּשֶׁל יָד תְּחִלָּהיג וְאַחַר־כָּךְ בְּשֶׁל רֹאשׁ, שֶׁלֹּא לְהַעֲבִיר עַל הַמִּצְוָה, שֶׁהַשֶּׁל יָד סְמוּכָה לוֹ לְמַשְׁמְשׁוֹ יוֹתֵר מֵהַשֶּׁל רֹאשׁ.יד

וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְמַשְׁמֵשׁ בָּהֶן בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִלָּה, שֶׁאָז אֵין לָחוּשׁ שֶׁיָּבוֹא לִידֵי הֶסַּח הַדַּעַת גָּמוּר, שֶׁהוּא שְׂחוֹק וְקַלּוּת רֹאשׁ,טו וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן טוֹב שֶׁיְּמַשְׁמֵשׁ בָּהֶן, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה דַּעְתּוֹ עֲלֵיהֶן מַמָּשׁ, שֶׁזֶּהוּ מִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר.טז

וּמִנְהָג יָפֶה לְמַשְׁמֵשׁ בַּתְּפִלִּין כְּשֶׁמַּזְכִּיר מִצְוָתָן בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע,יז,9 וּמְמַשְׁמֵשׁ בְּשֶׁל יָדיח כְּשֶׁאוֹמֵר: "וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת עַל יָדֶךָ", וּבְשֶׁל רֹאשׁ כְּשֶׁאוֹמֵר "וְהָיוּ לְטֹטָפֹת10 בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ":יט

3 When one removes his tefillin, he should remove the head-tefillin first.11 For were he to remove the arm-tefillin first, [he would be wearing] the head-tefillin alone. [This would run contrary to the implication of] the Torah’s phrase, “and they shall be a reminder between your eyes.” Our Sages taught that the plural form of “they shall be” indicates that as long as [the head-tefillin] are “between your eyes,” a pair [should be worn]. This is why the verse does not [simply] say, “And you shall bind them as a sign on your arm and as a reminder [between your eyes],”12 [but “...and they shall be as a reminder between your eyes”].

ג כְּשֶׁחוֹלֵץ תְּפִלִּין – צָרִיךְ לַחֲלֹץ שֶׁל רֹאשׁ תְּחִלָּה,כ,11 שֶׁאִם יַחֲלֹץ שֶׁל יָד תְּחִלָּה – נִמְצֵאת מוּנַחַת עָלָיו תְּפִלִּין שֶׁל רֹאשׁ בִּלְבַדָּהּ, וְהַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָה:כא "וְהָיוּ לְטֹטָפֹת בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ", וְדָרְשׁוּ חֲכָמִים: כָּל זְמַן שֶׁבֵּין עֵינֶיךָ יִהְיוּ שְׁתַּיִם, שֶׁלְּכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: "וְהָיוּ",כב שֶׁהוּא לְשׁוֹן רַבִּים, וְלֹא נֶאֱמַר "וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת עַל יָדֶךָ וּלְטֹטָפֹת וכו'":כג,12

4 According to the Kabbalah one should remove the head-tefillin while standing, just as it was put on while standing. This also applies to the coils [of the strap] wound around the [middle] finger.

With regard to the arm-tefillin, however, just as the Kabbalah rules that one should put them on while seated, so, too, should one take them off while seated. According to our custom, which is also to put the arm-tefillin on while standing,13 (one may)14 also remove them while standing.

ד עַל פִּי הַקַּבָּלָהכד צָרִיךְ לַחֲלֹץ שֶׁל רֹאשׁ מְעֻמָּד, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהֲנָחָתָהּ הִיא מְעֻמָּד,כה וְכֵן הַכְּרִיכוֹת שֶׁל אֶצְבַּע.כו אֲבָל תְּפִלִּין שֶׁל יָד שֶׁהֲנָחָתָהּ הוּא מְיֻשָּׁב עַל פִּי הַקַּבָּלָה – חֲלִיצָתָהּ גַּם כֵּן מְיֻשָּׁב.כז וּלְמִנְהָגֵנוּ שֶׁהֲנָחַת תְּפִלִּין שֶׁל יָד הִיא גַּם כֵּן מְעֻמָּד13 – (יָכוֹל)כח,14 לְחָלְצָהּ גַּם כֵּן מְעֻמָּד:כט

5 Some sages were accustomed to removing the head-tefillin with their left hand,15 i.e., their weaker hand, to express their reluctance at having to remove it. For the mitzvah of tefillin applies throughout the day; it is only because we cannot maintain the requisite bodily purity that we remove them immediately after prayer.16

ה יֵשׁ מֵהַחֲכָמִיםל שֶׁהָיוּ נוֹהֲגִין לַחֲלֹץ תְּפִלִּין שֶׁל רֹאשׁ בְּיָד שְׂמֹאל,15 שֶׁהִיא יָד כֵּהָה,לא כְּדֵי לְהַרְאוֹת שֶׁקָּשָׁה עָלָיו חֲלִיצָתָן,לב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמִּצְוָתָן כָּל הַיּוֹם, אֶלָּא שֶׁמִּפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין לָנוּ גּוּף נָקִי אָנוּ חוֹלְצִין מִיָּד אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה:16

6 There are those who, for an esoteric reason, follow the custom of removing the head-tefillin before they unwind the strap from the finger. Others, [also] for an esoteric reason, follow the custom of removing the strap first.17

ו יֵשׁ שֶׁהָיוּ נוֹהֲגִין מִטַּעַם הַיָּדוּעַ לָהֶםלג לַחֲלֹץ תְּפִלִּין שֶׁל רֹאשׁ קֹדֶם שֶׁמֵּסִיר הָרְצוּעָה מֵהָאֶצְבַּע. וְיֵשׁ נוֹהֲגִין מִטַּעַם הַיָּדוּעַ לָהֶםלד לְהָסִיר הָרְצוּעָה מִקֹּדֶם:17

7 When winding up [the tefillin], one should not wind the straps over the cubes themselves, but rather over [the base of the tefillin at] the sides.

(A comparison cannot be made to the cloth wrapped around a Torah scroll, for it serves the Torah scroll and protects it by being wrapped around it. Thus the wrapping is not considered disrespectful to the Torah scroll; on the contrary, it shows respect for it. Tefillin, by contrast, gain nothing by having straps wound around them.)

Some people wind [the tefillin straps] like wings, recalling the [renowned] dove’s wings.18

When winding the straps on the sides of the tefillin, one should hold the tefillin in one’s hand and wind the strap around them, and not hold the strap and turn the tefillin within it. For it is preferable that [as a token of respect,] the straps be turned around and not the tefillin.

ז כְּשֶׁמְּקַפְּלָן – לֹא יִכְרֹךְ הָרְצוּעוֹת עַל הַבָּתִּיםלה אֶלָּא עַל הַצְּדָדִיםלו (וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה לְמִטְפַּחַת שֶׁכּוֹרְכִין עַל הַסֵּפֶר תּוֹרָה,לז מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַמִּטְפַּחַת נַעֲשֵׂית שׁוֹמֵר לַסֵּפֶר תּוֹרָה וּמְשַׁמְּשָׁהּ אֵלָיו בִּכְרִיכָה זוֹ, לָכֵן אֵין כָּאן גְּנַאי כְּלָל לַסֵּפֶר תּוֹרָה בִּכְרִיכָה זוֹ, וְאֲדְּרַבָּה זֶהוּ כְּבוֹדָהּ, מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן הָרְצוּעוֹת שֶׁאֵינָם מְשַׁמְּשִׁים כְּלוּם לְהַבָּתִּים בִּכְרִיכָה זוֹ).

וְיֵשׁ נוֹהֲגִיןלח לְכָרְכָן כִּכְנָפַיִם, עַל שֵׁם כַּנְפֵי יוֹנָה.לט,18

וּכְשֶׁכּוֹרְכָןמ עַל צִדְדֵי הַתְּפִלִּין – צָרִיךְ לֶאֱחֹז הַתְּפִלִּין בְּיָדוֹ וְלִגְלֹל הָרְצוּעָה עֲלֵיהֶן, וְלֹא לֶאֱחֹז הָרְצוּעָה בְּיָדוֹ וְלִגְלֹל הַתְּפִלִּין לְתוֹכָה,מא שֶׁמּוּטָב שֶׁתִּגָּלֵל הָרְצוּעָה מִמַּה שֶּׁיִּתְגַּלְלוּ הַתְּפִלִּין:מב

8 When one places [the tefillin] in their satchel, one should be careful to place them in such a manner that when he comes to take them out [the next time] to put them on, he will not be able to encounter the head-tefillin first, for then he would have to bypass a mitzvah in order to put on the arm-tefillin first.19

It would therefore have been fitting to place them in a long, narrow satchel with the head-tefillin below, and the arm-tefillin upon it. Thus when one came to take them, one would first encounter the arm-tefillin, which was on top. Though the head-tefillin has a greater degree of holiness than the arm-tefillin,20 it is not prohibited by law for the arm-tefillin to be placed on the head-tefillin, for ultimately they are considered as one object, since they contain the same passages.

Nevertheless, there are those whose custom is to refrain from keeping them in the same satchel, one on top of the other, but instead keep them in two separate satchels, one next to the other. The arm-tefillin, however, should be placed slightly higher, for if they were placed side by side, one would sometimes have to bypass a mitzvah. For if the head-tefillin would first present itself directly in front of his right hand, with which he takes out the tefillin, he would have to bypass [the mitzvah] in order to take out the arm-tefillin. If, however, the arm-tefillin is placed a little higher [than the head-tefillin], one is not bypassing the mitzvah [by taking out] the arm-tefillin, for it is closer.21

It is customary to mark the satchels, designating one for the head-tefillin and the one for the arm-tefillin. For since the head-tefillin has a greater degree of holiness, it is forbidden to convert its satchel [and use it] for the arm-tefillin unless a stipulation to that effect was made at the outset, as will be explained.22

ח כְּשֶׁמַּנִּיחָן בַּתִּיק – צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר לְהַנִּיחָן בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁכְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא לִיטְּלָן מִשָּׁם לְלָבְשָׁן לֹא יוּכַל לִפְגֹּעַ בְּשֶׁל רֹאשׁ תְּחִלָּה,מג כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לַעֲבֹר עַל הַמִּצְוָה לִלְבֹּשׁ שֶׁל יָד תְּחִלָּה.מד,19 וְלָכֵן מִן הָרָאוּי הָיָה לְהַנִּיחָן בְּכִיס צַר וְאָרֹךְ,מה שֶׁל רֹאשׁ מִלְּמַטָּה וְעָלָיו שֶׁל יָד, שֶׁכְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא לִיטְּלָן – יִפְגַּע תְּחִלָּה בְּשֶׁל יָד הַמֻּנָּח לְמַעְלָה, שֶׁאֵין אִסּוּר מִן הַדִּין בְּמַה שֶּׁהַשֶּׁל יָד מֻנָּח עַל גַּבֵּי שֶׁל רֹאשׁ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶּׁהַשֶּׁל רֹאשׁ קְדֻשָּׁתוֹ חֲמוּרָה מֵהַשֶּׁל יָד,מו,20 הוֹאִיל וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם שְׁנֵיהֶם דָּבָר אֶחָד, שֶׁהַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת הַכְּתוּבוֹת בְּזֶה כְּתוּבוֹת בְּזֶה.

אֶלָּא שֶׁאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן יֵשׁ שֶׁנָּהֲגוּמז שֶׁלֹּא לְהַנִּיחָן בְּכִיס אֶחָד זֶה עַל גַּבֵּי זֶה, אֶלָּא בִּשְׁנֵי כִּיסִין זֶה אֵצֶל זֶה, אֶלָּא שֶּׁהַשֶּׁל יָד יְהֵא מֻנָּח קְצָת לְצַד מַעְלָה, שֶׁאִם יִהְיוּ מֻנָּחִים בְּשָׁוֶה – יִצְטָרֵךְ לִפְעָמִים לַעֲבֹר עַל הַמִּצְוָה, דְּהַיְנוּ אִם יָבוֹא הַשֶּׁל רֹאשׁ מְזֻמָּן לְפָנָיו תְּחִלָּה נֶגֶד יָד יְמִינוֹ שֶׁנּוֹטֵל בָּהּ הַתְּפִלִּין – יִצְטָרֵךְ לַעֲבֹר עָלָיו וְלִטֹּל הַשֶּׁל יָד,מח אֲבָל כְּשֶׁהַשֶּׁל יָד הוּא קְצָת לְצַד מַעְלָה – אֵין כָּאן מַעֲבִיר עַל הַמִּצְוָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי הַשֶּׁל יָד סָמוּךְ לוֹ יוֹתֵר.מט,21

וְנָהֲגוּ לְסַמֵּן הַכִּיסִים אֵיזֶה לְשֶׁל רֹאשׁ וְאֵיזֶה לְשֶׁל יָד,נ שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁהַשֶּׁל רֹאשׁ קְדֻשָּׁתוֹ חֲמוּרָה – אָסוּר לְשַׁנּוֹת אַחַר־כָּךְ הַכִּיס שֶׁלּוֹ לִתֵּן בּוֹ הַשֶּׁל יָד, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הִתְנָה בַּתְּחִלָּה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:נא,22

9 When one removes tefillin from their satchel, one should not shake them out but take them out by hand.

ט כְּשֶׁנּוֹטֵל הַתְּפִלִּין מֵהַתִּיק – לֹא יְנַעֲרֵם מִן הַתִּיק, אֶלָּא יִטְּלֵן בְּיָדוֹ מִתּוֹכו:נב

10 It is a custom instituted by the Sages to kiss the tefillin when putting them on and when taking them off.

י מִנְהַג חֲכָמִים לְנַשֵּׁק הַתְּפִלִּין בִּשְׁעַת לְבִישָׁתָן וּבִשְׁעַת חֲלִיצָתָן:נג