I am a Jew who is just starting to learn observance. I am presently learning the mitzvah of tefillin. My rabbi has me saying a blessing on the head tefillin but I noticed in your Tefillin Section that there is no separate blessing mentioned for the head tefillin. Am I being taught incorrectly?


I am glad to hear that you are continuing on your path of growth in Torah and its mitzvot. I hope that you have the opportunity to visit your local Chabad center to benefit from the invaluable assistance it can provide on your journey in Judaism.

Although we put on two different tefillin, one for the hand the other for the head, and in truth they constitute two distinct mitzvot, nevertheless the blessing recited on the hand tefillin also cover the head tefillin which are donned immediately afterwards. The sages also instituted a special blessing for the head tefillin, which carries more importance because of the different compartments and the extra Shin (letter in the Aleph Bet) on the box. The blessing is:

Baruch Atta Ado-nay, Elo-hainu melech ha'olam, asher kidishanu, b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu al mitzvat tefillin.

[Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us regarding the mitzvah of tefillin.]

There is, however, a difference of opinion whether this blessing is added whenever tefillin are donned, or only if one mistakenly interrupts between the donning of the hand tefillin and head tefillin by speaking (which causes that the head tefillin is no longer "covered" by the blessing recited before donning the hand tefillin).

Opinion 1: This special blessing is only recited on the head tefillin in the event that there was an interruption between the donning of the two tefillins. (And in such an instance, it is the only blessing recited before donning the head tefillin.)

Opinion 2: The head tefillin always warrants its own special blessing. If one interrupts between the hand and head tefillin, then both tefillin blessings must be recited before donning the head tefillin.

[In all instances, after reciting the blessing on the head tefillin, the following verse is added: Baruch sheim k'vod malchuto l'olam va-ed. (Blessed is the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever) This verse is normally said after mistakenly uttering G‑d's name in vain, or saying an unnecessary (which contains G‑d's name). This is now said in consideration of the possibility that the halachah follows the first opinion, in which case a blessing was now recited "in vain."1]

The Chabad custom is to follow the first opinion. This is based on a general principle with regards to blessings: when in doubt as to whether or not to say a blessing we rule leniently. This is so to insure that G‑d's name is not mentioned in vain.

All the best,

Rabbi Shmuel Kogan,