Tefillin

Have you ever seen someone like this on TV or in a picture and wondered what the heck was going on?  Well prepare to be informed!

This is an Israeli man wearing a “Tefillin”.

Tefillin means to “to guard, protect”.  This religious piece is made up of a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah.

The arm-tefillin, or shel yad, is placed on the upper arm, and the strap wrapped around the arm/hand, hand and fingers; while the head-tefillin, or shel rosh, is placed above the forehead.

The scriptural texts for tefillin are listed as:

Exodus 13:9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.

Exodus 13:16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.

Deuteronomy 6:8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

Deuteronomy 11:18  Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

The Tefillin are worn to serve as a sign and remembrance that God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Additionally some figures within Rabbinic Judaism believe the Tefillin serves other symbolic functions.

  • The shel yad symbolize subjugating a person’s worldly desires and or a remembrance that mans true strength comes from God.
  • The Tefillin are placed on the arm adjacent to the heart and on the head above the brain to demonstrate that these two major organs are willing to perform the service of God.
  • That one glorifies God through how one lives.  Since the Tefillin is connected to the idea of Mitzvot in some forms of Judaic thought one makes it as high quality and beautiful as it can be.

Hope you enjoyed the reading!

(I don’t know what it is but I love a great deal of the imagery and symbolism we find in the history of Israel) 🙂

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