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World of the Sages: God's tefillin

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by jewscout, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. jewscout

    jewscout Religious Zionist

    Sep 29, 2004
    World of the Sages: God's tefillin

    From where is it derived that the Holy One, blessed be He, dons tefillin?" – a startling question asked without context, that captivates the imagination (B. Berachot 6a-b).

    The Talmud continues by quoting biblical verses that support the notion that indeed God wears tefillin. The talmudic discussion goes further in querying the contents of God's tefillin: "Those tefillin of the Master of the Universe – what is written in them?"

    Our tefillin contain biblical passages that carry the tefillin command, namely the instruction to place symbols "on your hand" and "between your eyes" that are to serve as a sign of our relationship with God and as a reminder to adhere to his precepts (Exodus 13:1-10; 11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21). Clearly such passages would not be suitable for Divine tefillin; what, therefore, is written in God's tefillin? Since our tefillin contain verses extolling the Almighty, God's tefillin must contain verses relating to the Jewish people. The passage continues giving voice to God as He explains to Israel His choice of verse: "You have singled Me out for distinct praise in the world, by declaring the Shema – 'Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One' (Deuteronomy 6:4). I, therefore, will make you the subject of unique praise in the world by proclaiming 'And who is like Your people Israel, one nation in the land' (I Chronicles 17:21)." As the Shema is found in our tefillin, so are expressions of the inimitability of the Jewish people found in God's tefillin.

    complete article here:
  2. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
    Staff Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Hi jewscout,
    I had never heard of that before (There are many, many things of which I have not heard) - but I did come across this on the web:-

    The below declaration of intent is recited before donning the tefillin:

    For the sake of the unification of the Holy One, Blessed is He, and His Presence, in fear and love, to unify the Name - yud-kei with vav-kei - in perfect unity, in the name of all Yisrael.

    Behold, in putting on tefillin I intend to fulfill the commandment of my Creator, Who has commanded us to put on tefillin, as is written in His Torah: 'Bind them as a sign upon your arm and let them be tefillin between your eyes.' (Devarim 6:8) These four portions [contained in the tefillin] - [1] 'Shema' (Devarim 6:4-9); [2] 'And it will come to pass, if you will hearken' (Devarim 11:13-21); [3] 'Sanctify' (Shemot 13:1-10); and [4] 'And it will come to pass when He shall bring you' (Shemot 13:11-16) - contain His Oneness and Unity, may His Name be blessed, in the universe; so that we will recall the miracles and wonders that He did with us when He removed us from Egypt; and that He has the strength and dominion over those above and those below to do with them as He wishes. He has commanded us to put [tefillin] upon the arm to recall the 'outstretched arm' [of the Exodus] and that it be opposite the heart thereby subjugate the desires and thoughts of our heart to His service, may His Name be blessed; and upon the head opposite the brain, so that the soul that is in my brain, together with my other senses and potentials, may all be subjugated to His service, may His Name be blessed. May some of the spiritual influence of the commandment of tefillin be extended upon me so that I have a long life, a flow of holiness, and holy thoughts, without even an inkling of sin or iniquity; and that the Evil Inclination will not seduce us nor incite against us, and that it permit us to serve Hashem as is our hearts' desire. May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that the commandment of putting on tefillin be considered as worthy before the Holy One, Blessed is He, as if I had fulfilled it in all its details, implications, and intentions, as well as the six hundred thirteen commandments that are dependent upon it. Amein, Selah.

    Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvatov v'tzivanu lehaniach tefillin.
    Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to put on :) tefillin.

  3. Lintu

    Lintu Active Member

    Nov 10, 2004
    Just to add to this discussion:

    I attend Reform services so tefillin are not part of my religious world, but I was reading up on them on a book I have of Jewish tradition. Being able to wear the tefillin (after bar mitzvah) is considered a great "coming-of-age" kind of treat. Also, there is a lot of symbolism in how it is all put on...for instance, wrapping one strap down the arm and then around the ring finger to show almost marriage-like devotion to G-d.