Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tefillin Checklist

[A video sent my way, worth thinking about: Tribute to the Jewish Mother]

As I train my son in use of tefillin, I'm trying to develop a list of "maintenance" points. Here's what I have so far:

Before putting on tefillin
Is my hair clean and dry?
Are my arm and forehead clean and dry?
Do I need to use the bathroom?
Am I able to concentrate?

Putting on tefillin
Focus on the message this uniform sends you
Check the straps at the points where they enter the knots, to make sure they aren't wearing thin or losing their blackness
Be gentle when pulling the straps of the arm tefillin, to avoid snapping the knot's connection to the box
If the head tefillin are not sitting in the right spot, I can loosen the knot to adjust the straps
If the box on your head is exerting too much pressure, move it further up; there is a great deal of room to use, and this will also avoid stretching the straps

While wearing tefillin
Always remember that you are wearing tefillin – this will help you guard their holiness and take care of them physically
When about to say Shemoneh Esreih, make sure you have room to bow without striking anything

Putting tefillin away
Check tefillin straps and boxes for blackness; it's easier to blacken them when you don't need to put them on right away
Put tefillin in their boxes carefully
Kiss the tefillin before putting them away; remember that this is a special opportunity

Storing tefillin
We honour tefillin in the way we take care of them, from the way we carry their bag to the kind of place we put them
Never leave tefillin in a car, whether the weather is hot or cold, damp or dry
Never pack tefillin in your luggage

What would you add?


  1. And "Am I married?" (see the Rema)

  2. I should have made it clear that I meant that as irony. Sorry. I know you are supposed to wear Tefilin all day or at least for the Shema and 18. (If only!)

  3. Have in mind that you are fulfilling two mitzvot d'orayta and are wearing tefillin because God so commanded.

    And as per the Bach, the additional kavanah of le-ma'an tihiyeh torat Hashem be-phicha.

    Remember to keep the tefillah shel yad covered and the tefillah shel rosh uncovered, since we are kabbalists.

    Make sure your kippah is not an interposition.

    Remember that oddly the tefillah shel yad, and not the tefillah shel rosh, is near the the seat of thoughts and desires.

  4. While wearing them - Check that the Shel Rosh is still centred (And above the hairline), and that no straps on the Shel Yad are touching.

    When putting away - don't wrap the straps too tightly around the batim, it pulls the straps and makes the paint crack.

  5. when putting them away, keep the kesher of the shel rosh on top as a segulah for parnasah

  6. And mazal tov. May his parents continue to raise him to torah, chuppah, and maasim tovim.

  7. You might expand what exactly you are supposed to concentrate on, what is the message of tfillin and why it might be yuhara to wear them at mincha (oops, that last is a pet peeve)
    Joel Rich

  8. Thanks, everyone for your additions! I am keeping this to a list of maintenance items, but the points about kavvanah and location/covering are useful for another list...

  9. dont give any of the "you should have the same excitement when putting on tefillin for the rest of your life as you do now" cuz thts all i heard for like two years and it was really annoying. focus more on explaining what exactly it is that should be making him excited about tefillin and thier significance etc. and mazal tov.