The man "goes out" in search of G‑dliness, the woman cultivates G‑dliness.
The man provides the seed to create life; the woman bears life.
The man teaches his children how to live; the woman is life.
– The Chassidic Masters

I had always been fascinated with tefillin (phylacteries), the two black leather boxes with Torah verses of parchment inside, worn on the head and wrapped around the arm. The basic explanation is that it is a way of connecting to our Creator and it is the binding of head, heart and deed. But it wasn't until I began learning all the wonderful mental, emotional, and physical health benefits of donning tefillin, that I felt a strong desire to partake in the commandment. I investigated the Scripture but could not find any specific prohibitions of why I shouldn’t do so. Being a woman, I was discouraged from putting on tefillin by the rabbis with whom I consulted, but I couldn't get a satisfactory answer as to why.

I thought this was a clear sign One of the rabbis I spoke with mentioned to me that the daughters of the great Torah commentator, Rashi, wore tefillin. I thought this was a clear sign—that, if the daughters of such a renowned sage wore tefillin, it must not be prohibited for women. I figured, if Rashi himself couldn’t (or wouldn’t) talk his daughters out of doing it, how could it be wrong?

When I confronted another rabbi about my conclusion, he said that Rashi’s daughters were on a much higher level than probably any rabbi in this generation. His answer in a nutshell was essentially: "You’re not Rashi’s daughter. You are not holy enough to do it." This answer didn't sit well with me. I thought, "Who are you to judge me?"

Then I read about the sons of Aaron the High Priest: Nadav and Avihu. These were great men driven by a deep desire for closeness to G‑d. They were inspired to serve G‑d and made an offering that was not asked for and died. They were consumed by a fire—their passion—because they did what they wanted instead of just doing what G‑d asked. Now the picture was getting clearer. This was something I could relate to.

I could see that my great spiritual desire to connect with G‑d was in fact egotistical. It was about me, me, me. I wanted to put on tefillin as a way of reaching my potential. I wanted to be closer to G‑d, and thought tefillin would take me there. But this is not what G‑d asks of me. My spiritual desire was in fact self-centered and not G‑d-centered. I didn’t stop to think what would make G‑d happy.

The antenna in this case is redundantWhen I learned about the power of the Jewish woman, what is unique to her alone, it then became clear that tefillin are unnecessary for me. Jewish philosophy teaches that women have a much more direct connection to G‑d then men, it is an internal connection. (Read "I am Woman" for more on this.) It is as if I already have an instant satellite connection with the best reception possible, and I am thinking that maybe putting an antenna on top will help to beam me up. This thinking is clearly flawed. The antenna in this case is redundant and will not do anything for me, and in fact may be detrimental. In fact, this redundancy may be displeasing to G‑d because it is doing an act in vain, even if the intentions are great—like Nadav and Avihu.

In the morning prayers, men thank G‑d for giving them the opportunity to earn their connection through the very commandments that women are not obligated to perform. While it must be greatly satisfying to earn a relationship and close bond through a set series of actions, I have the ability to rejoice and celebrate that my reality is that I was born with a more direct connection to my Creator (which I can deepen through my prayer and commandments) and also with the ability to be G‑dlike through the creation of children. Just like G‑d created a space for humanity to exist and to bestow His love upon them, I, too, have the ability to do the same through procreation. I have been gifted with co-creating with G‑d, in a way that man does not experience: my microcosm reflecting His macrocosm. I can emanate G‑d’s ways in a deep way that man cannot. And that is priceless.

I had my uncle mail my grandfather’s tefillin and tallit (prayer shawl) from Israel to me, with the intention to use them. But according to my humble understanding and research, it would not be wise to wear them. So until I get married and my husband can use them, my Sabba’s tefillin and tallit sit in my house, unused. And me, I am woman, and I am whole with that.