What are Tefillin / Phylacteries?
Tefillin (also called phylacteries) are made up of a few parts, namely they are the 1) Tefillin Batim /boxes, 2) Parshios/Passages 3) Retzuos/straps. For a more detailed description on each of them see their links Batim, Parshios, and Retzuos/Tefillin Straps.
Tefillin are set of black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. They are worn on the head and on one arm and are held in place by leather straps. Observant men and boys over the age of 13 wear Tefillin during the morning prayer services.
Wearing Tefillin is based upon biblical law. The commandment is found four times in the Torah they are:
For more information about Tefillin follow Guide on Tefillin
Passages Inside the Tefillin
1. Exodus 13:1-10: “The Lord said to Moses: Dedicate to me all your oldest children. Each first offspring from any Israelite womb belongs to me, whether human or animal…Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day which is the day that you came out of Egypt, out of the place you were slaves, because the Lord acted with power to bring you out of there’…You should explain to your child…, ‘It’s because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ It will be a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead so that you will often discuss the Lord’s instruction, for the Lord brought you out of Egypt with great power.”
2. Exodus 13:11-16: “When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you as promised to you and your ancestors, you should set aside for the Lord whatever comes out of the womb first. All of the first males born to your animal belong to the Lord…When in the future your child asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you should answer, ‘The Lord brought us with great power out of Egypt, out of the place we were slaves. When Pharaoh refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the oldest offspring in the land of Egypt, from the oldest sons to the oldest male animals. That is why I offer to the Lord as a sacrifice every male that first comes out of the womb. But I ransom my oldest sons.’ It will be a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with great power.” (Note: ransoming the oldest son is a ritual known as Pidyon HaBen.)
3. Deuteronomy 6:4-8: “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might…These words that I am commanding you today must always be on your minds…Tie them on your hand as a sign. They should be on your forehead as a symbol.”
4. Deuteronomy 11:13-21: “If you completely obey God’s commandments…by loving the Lord your God and by serving him with all your heart and all your being, then God will provide rain for your land at the right time… But watch yourselves! Otherwise, your heart might be led astray…Place these words…on your heart and in your very being. Tie them on your hand as a sign. They should be on your forehead as a symbol.”
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