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A pair of Tefillin wrapped in their cases

Putting on Tefillin at home

  1. One should put on Tefillin in one’s house and then walking to Shul wearing Tefillin. [1]
  2. If one will have to pass dirty areas or there are goyim between one’s house and the Shul, one should put on the Tefillin in the hallway next to the Shul itself if possible. [2]
  3. Because the whole issue is to only enter Shul wearing Tefillin, one should have the Tefillin outside Shul from the day before. [3]
  4. Some say that there’s also a reason to walk out of Shul wearing Tefillin. [4]
  5. Some say it’s preferable to put on Tefillin outside of Shul even if one will not be one of the first ten because of it. [5]

When to put on Tefillin

  1. One may not put on Tefillin before the time of MeSheyakir. [6]
  2. The minhag is to put on Tefillin after having said Birchot Hashachar but preferably before the Shema in korbanot and at least before Parshat HaTamid. [7]

Talit before Tefillin

  1. One should put on Talit before Tefillin.[8] Even if the Talit is only obligated in Tzitzit Derabbanan it still takes precedence to the Teffilin. [9]
  2. If one puts his talit and Tefillin in the same bag, one should be careful to place the Talit to the side of the Tefillin so that one takes the Talit first and then the Tefillin. [10]
  3. If one isn’t going to fulfill the mitzvot of Talit and Tefillin one may pass over one and take the other. [11]Hence if the Tefillin was mistakenly placed above the Talit and one doesn’t plan on fulfilling the mitzvah with them now one may remove both and rearrange it. [12]
  4. Similarly, if one has a Talit of Shabbat in the same bag and above the Talit of the weekday one may take the Talit of the weekday even if it’s below. [13]
  5. If one has only a Tefillin and not a Talit, according to Ashkenazim one shouldn’t wait but rather one can just put on the Tefillin, however Sephardim hold that if one will but will have Talit available to him before the latest time to say Shema, one should wait to get the Talit before putting on the Tefillin. However, if one will not have a Talit available before the latest time for Shema, one should don the Tefillin in order to say Shema with Tefillin in the time. [14]
  6. If one takes off one’s Talit and Tefillin momentarily and then returns one should still put on the Talit first. [15]
  7. If one is wearing Tefillin and then a Talit becomes available, one doesn’t have to remove one’s Tefillin, rather one should just put on the Talit while wearing the Tefillin. [16]
  8. If someone by accident took the Tefillin before the Talit, some say that one should put on the Tefillin since one has it in one’s hands, while others hold one should leave the Tefillin (respectfully), engage in another activity and when one returns one can put on the Talit first. [17]
    1. The same applies if one only took the Tefillin in their bag before taking the talit. [18]
    2. If one has Tefillin in the room that one is in and a Talit in the next room, the principle of not passing up the mitzvah applies and so one should put on the Tefillin first or leave the Tefillin, engage in another activity and then get the Talit first. [19]
  9. If one first made a mistake by taking the Tefillin and then made another mistake by putting down the Tefillin. One should put on the Talit first. [20]
  10. There’s a doubt in a situation where one would we embarrassed to put on Tefillin without a Talit whether one can put on the Talit first. [21]

Kavana (intent) when putting on Tefillin

  1. When putting on Tefillin one should have the following Kavana: Hashem commended us to wear these 4 parshiot (in the Tefllin) which speak of the oneness of Hashem and exodus of Egypt in order that we remember the miracles that reflect Hashem’s totally control over the upper and lower worlds. One should also have intent to make one’s Nishama in one’s brain and the heart which is the seat of emotion and thought, subservient to Hashem, and in this way one will remember Hashem and minimize one’s personal pleasures. [22]
  2. This is certainly an important intent, however one didn’t have such an intent one has still fulfilled their obligation. [23]
  3. It’s also important to have intent that is doing the action in order to fulfill a Biblical obligation. [24]

Torah Sources

  1. The obligation of tefillin is mentioned four times in the Torah. [25]

Who is obligated?

  1. All men above the age of thirteen are required to put on tefillin daily. [26]
  2. Women are exempt because it is a time-bound mitzva.

Arrangement of Paragaphs

  1. There is much discussion among the rabbis of the Talmud as to the order in which the biblical passages should be written in the arm and head tefillin. The rabbis most famous for this dispute were Rashi and his grandson Rabbeinu Tam and the two versions used today are named after them. The Halacha follows the arrangement of the Rashi Tefillin. NEEDS SOURCE
  2. However, pious individuals have the practice of wearing both Tefillin of Rashi and Rabbenu Tam. [27]
  3. Some wear the Rashi tefillin alone, and then remove them and briefly wear Rabbeinu Tam tefillin. Others wear both sets of tefillin simultaneously, with the Rabbeinu Tam tefillin higher up than the Rashi tefillin. NEEDS SOURCE
  • Order of the passages of the arm-tefillin

Rashi: Kadesh Li, Ve-haya Ki Yeviehcha, Shema, Ve-haya Im Shemoa - (according to the chronological order as they appear in the Torah) Rabbeinu Tam: Kadesh Li, Ve-haya Ki Yeviehcha, Ve-haya Im Shemoa, Shema NEEDS SOURCE

  • Order of the passages of the head-tefillin

Rashi: Kadesh Li, Ve-haya Ki Yeviehcha, Shema, Ve-haya Im Shemoa Rabbeinu Tam: Kadesh Li, Ve-haya Ki Yeviehcha, Ve-haya Im Shemoa, Shema NEEDS SOURCE

Halachot for the Scribe

  • The passages must be written in order, and it is preferable to write those in the arm tefillin first (32:1).
  • Those in the head tefillin are written on four separate pieces of parchment and then placed into four compartments in the head tefillin(32:14), while those in the arm, on one piece (32:2).
  • The parchment must be made from the skin of a kosher type of animal or bird and bound with kosher animal hair. (32:12)
  • The passages must be written with intent (32:19), with the right hand (32:5), in black ink (see 32:3), and the pen should be tested before writing (32:22). They must be written by a literate, religious adult male Jew (see 32:30;39:1).
  • The boxes and their stitches must be perfectly square.
  • On the right and left sides of the head-tefillin the letter shin must be embossed.
  • The straps must be black on the outside and the head tfillin should be knotted in the form of the letter dalet while the strap that is passed through the arm-tefillin is formed into a knot in the shape of the letter yod.

Process of Putting Tefillin On

  1. Right handed people wear the tefillin on their left arm and left handed people place it on their right arm. [28]
  2. The Tefillin of the arm is put on before the Tefillin of the head. Therefore one should be careful to arrange the Tefillin in the case so that one takes the Tefillin shel yad first.
  3. However, if one did take the Tefillin Shel Rosh first one must pass up that Tefillin and put on the Tefillin Shel yad first. [29]

Brachot of Tefillin

  1. Before the strap of the arm-tefillin is tightened, the blessing of להניח תפילין is said. [30]
  2. Upon placement of the head-tefillin, Sephardic and Hasidic authorities are of the opinion that the blessing on laying the head-tefillin is not necessary and the one blessing on laying the arm-tefillin is sufficient. [31]
  3. It is strictly forbidden to talk between the placement of the arm and head-tefillin. [32]
  4. However, if one spoke by mistake, he must recite the beracha of al mitzvat tefillin as the Ashkenaz. [33]
  5. Ashkenazim, however, do recite a second blessing of על מצות תפילין on the head-tefillin, before tightening it around the head‏. [34]
  6. It is also customary to add the phrase ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם וע‏ד because of the doubt as too the necessity of the beracha. [35]

Where the Tefillin are placed

  1. The arm-tefillin is placed on the biceps of the arm, two finger breadths away from the elbow, with the box facing inward towards the heart. [36] After the beracha is said, the arm-tefillin is tightened, then wrapped around the arm seven times. The knot formation and arm binding differ considerably between different traditions. There is a custom to cover the arm-tefillin with the sleeve, in accordance with the verse "And they will be a sign to you...", i.e. to you and not to others.
  2. Next, the head-tefillin is placed on top of the head, "between the eyes" but not lower than the hairline (or if balding, where one's hairline once was). The knot of the head-tefillin sits at the back of the head, upon the part of the occipital bone that protrudes just above the nape. The two straps of the head-tefillin are brought in front of the shoulders, with their blackened side facing outwards.

Wrappings around the hand

  1. The Tefillin Shel Yad should be put on the left arm on the area where the muscle bulges in the lower half of the area between the elbow and armpit. [37] One should make sure not to put the Tefillin within two fingerbreadths of one’s elbow. [38]
  2. The Tefillin should be tilted slightly towards the body so that when the arm is bent the Tefillin faces the heart. [39]


  1. The knot which looks like a Yud on the Tefillin Shel Yad should be facing inward and touching the main Tefillin box. [40]
  2. The Minhag is to put the Maavarta (bridge) part of the Tefillin facing the shoulder. [41] The Maavarta should also be below halfway between the elbow and armpit. [42]
  3. It’s better that the Maavarta is placed above halfway between the elbow and armpit and not have the main box of Tefillin be within 2 fingerbreadths of one’s elbow. [43]
  4. Many authorities are lenient not to require a Netilat Yadayim if one touches the skin in the area where the Tefillin Shel Yad is placed or rub one’s hair while putting on Tefillin Shel Rosh, [44] however, some are strict. [45]
  5. Nothing can interpose between the Tefillin or the area where the straps wrap around the arm and one’s body, however, in the area of the knot one may have an interposition. [46]
  1. After placing the head-tefillin the remainder of the arm-tefillin straps are then wound three times around the middle finger and around the hand. This is accompanied by the recitation of Hoshea 2:21 and 2:22

"'וארשתיך לי לעולם, וארשתיך לי בצדק ובמשפט ובחסד וברחמים, וארשתיך לי באמונה וידעת את ה".NEEDS SOURCE

  1. The Sephardic method of wrapping results in a dalet shape on the palm of the hand and a shin around the middle finger, so as to represent the name of G-d from the middle finger (ש) through the palm (ד) to the knot (י) hanging from the box of the arm-tefillin.NEEDS SOURCE

Proper conduct while wearing Tefillin

  1. It is forbidden to laugh or come to lightheartedness while wearing Tefillin because it remove one’s concentration from the Tefillin altogether. [47]
  2. It’s preferable not to remove one’s thought from the Tefillin at all so as not to come to think bad thoughts. However, during Davening and learning one doesn’t need to keep one’s mind on Tefillin since one will certainly maintain a proper seriousness and fear of Hashem. [48]
  3. If one is not engaged in learning or praying and is still wearing the Tefillin one should occasionally touch one's Tefillin in order to keep one's attention focused to the Tefillin. [49] One should touch one's Tefillin Shel Yad and then the Tefillin Shel Rosh. [50]
  4. It is forbidden to go to sleep while wearing Tefillin unless one covered the Tefillin and isn’t with one’s wife. [51]

Eating while wearing Tefillin

  1. It’s permitted to eat a snack while in tefillin even nowadays when we don’t wear the tefillin all day. [52] Some are strict not to have even a snack, but permit if one is eating or drinking for in intent to wear the tefillin while learning or Davening extra. [53]
  2. The size of a snack is a Kebaytzah of bread or mezonot; so too, one shouldn’t have more than a kebaytzah of intoxsicating drinks. However, drinks that aren’t intoxicating, like coffee and tea, are permitted even more than a kebaytzah. [54]

Removing the Tefillin

  1. On removing the tefillin the three twistings on the middle finger are loosened first; then the head-tefillin is removed; and finally the arm-tefillin.NEEDS SOURCE
  2. It is customary among Ashkenazi Jews to put and to remove the tefillin while standing(Ramah on Orach Chaim 25:11) while Sephardim sit for arm-tefillin and stand for head tefillin.NEEDS SOURCE

When to Wear Tefillin

  1. Originally tefillin were laid all day, but not during the night.
  2. Nowadays the prevailing custom is to lay them only during the weekday morning service.(Orach Chaim 37:2)
  3. The minimum requirement is to have Tefillin on during Kriyat Shema and Shemona Esreh. [55]
  4. The problem with wearing them all day is the necessity to remove them when encountering an unclean place and the requirement to constantly have in mind the knowledge that they are being worn.

Shabbat and Yom Tov

  1. Tefillin are not worn on Shabbat and the major holidays including Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The reason given that these holidays are themselves "signs" which render the use of tefillin, which are to serve as "signs" themselves, superfluous.

Chol Hamoed

  1. On Chol Hamoed of Pesach and Sukkot there is a great debate on whether or not tefillin should be worn. Some rishonim forbid tefillin to be laid on Hol HaMoed as they consider the days have the same status as a festival which in itself constitutes a "sign" making the laying of tefillin unnecessary. [56] Other rishonim argue and hold that Hol HaMoed does not constitute a "sign" in which case tefillin must be laid on Hol HaMoed.[57]
  2. There are three main customs:
  • The Bet Yosef writes that the minhag of Sephardim is not to wear Tefillin on Chol HaMoed based on Kabbalistic sources. This is also the opinion of the Vilna Gaon (Bi'ur ha-Gra Orach Chayim 31:2 s.v. V’yesh Omrim).
  • The Tur (Siman 31) quotes some rishonim who are uncertain whether one must lay tefillin on Chol HaMoed and concludes that one should wear Tefillin without a Bracha. These opinions include the Ritva,(Eruvin 96a), Smag(eruvin 153), Meiri(Moed Katan 18b), and Taz 31:2. The Mishna Berura recommends that on Hol Hamoed one make a mental stipulation before donning tefillin: If I am obligated to don tefillin I intend to fulfill my obligation and if I am not obligated to don tefillin, my doing so should not be considered as fulfilling any obligation; and that the blessing not be recited.
  • The Rama writes that the Ashkenazic custom is to wear Tefillin with a Bracha which is to be made in an undertone. [58]

Tisha BeAv

  1. On Tisha B'Av, tefillin are worn at the afternoon service instead. This is because tefillin are considered an ornament or symbolic of a connection to God, both of which are inappropriate for a day of mourning the distance between God and the Jewish people. Wearing tefillin is thus delayed until the afternoon, when the mourning is considered to have passed its peak. NEEDS SOURCE
  2. However, many Jews, especially among Ashkenazi and Sepharadi Jerusalemites, do lay tefillin for the morning service as well. NEEDS SOURCE
  3. Another custom exists among some Sephardic Jews put on tefillin privately in their homes and then go to shul to pray without tefillin.NEEDS SOURCE


  1. The Zohar emphasizes the importance of putting on Tefillin in one’s house and then walking to Shul wearing Tefillin. This Zohar brought as halacha in Shulchan Aruch 25:2.
  2. Mishna Brurah 25:8,10
  3. Kaf HaChaim 25:17, Piskei Teshuvot 25:6
  4. Piskei Teshuvot 25:6
  5. Ben Ish Chai Vayera #5, Kaf HaChaim 25:18, Halacha Brurah 25:13, Yalkut Yosef (Tefillin 25 note 36)
  6. S"A 30:1
  7. Kaf HaChaim 25:3-4
  8. S”A 25:1 says that the Talit goes first because we want to increase in Kedusha from Talit to Teffilin.
  9. Mishna Brurah 25:1, Halacha Brurah 25:7.
  10. S"A 25:1 writes that one must not place the Tefillin above the Talit because otherwise one may take the Tefillin before the Talit. However, Halacha Brurah 25 writes that it's not respectful to the Tefillin to place the Talit above the Tafillin, therefore it should be placed in a separate bag or to the side of the Tefillin.
  11. Mishna Brurah 25:3 writes that the law that one can’t pass up a mitzvah only applies when one intends to do the mitzvah.
  12. This follows clearly from the above Mishna Brurah but is written as an example in Halachot of Tefillin by Rabbi Shlomo Churba (page 7) quoting Or Letzion (vol 2, 44:16).
  13. Kaf HaChaim 25:8 writes that since one doesn’t intend to use the Talit of Shabbat now one is permitted to take the Talit of the weekday even if it’s below.
  14. Rama 25:1 writes that if one has Tefillin but not Talit one shouldn’t wait for the Talit but rather just put on the Tefillin. The Magan Avraham 25:2 understands that this is the case even if there’s no concern that one will miss Sof Zman Kriyat Shema. so rules the Mishna Brurah 25:7. However, the Machaneh Chaim (Mehudra Kama 2), Sh”t Shenot Chaim 36, Kaf HaChaim 25:10, Yalkut Yosef (Sherit Yosef 1 pg 319), and Halacha Brurah 25:10 argue that one should wait to put on the Talit as long as one will not miss the time for Kriyat Shema.
  15. Mishna Brurah (Biur Halacha D”H Vayitztarech) writes that the principle that one should put on Talit before Tefillin is true also in a case where one took off the Talit and Tefillin momentarily and now comes to put on Talit and Tefillin. This is quoted in Yalkut Yosef (Sherit Yosef 1 pg 318), Halacha Brurah (Birur Halacha 25:2), Amudei HaShulchan 10:2, and Divrei Shalom (vol 1 pg 15).
  16. Ben Ish Chai (Vayera 4, Sh”t Rav Poalim 1:4) writes that if someone is only wearing Tefillin and a Talit becomes available, one should remove one’s Tefillin before putting on the Talit. So holds the Sh”t Torah Lishmah 1. However, the Rama 25:1 writes that if one has only Tefillin one should put that on and when one gets a Talit one should don the Talit implying that one doesn’t need to remove the Tefillin in order to put on the Talit. So rules Yalkut Yosef (Sherit Yosef 1 pg 319).
  17. The S”A 25:1 writes that one should be careful not to put the Tefillin above the Talit in one bag because then one may take the Tefillin first and have to put them on before the Talit. The S”A here holds that since one picked up the Tefillin the principle of not passing up a mitzvah overrides putting the Talit on before the Tefillin. Most achronim rule in accordance with S”A including Mishna Brurah and Halacha Brurah 25:9. However, the Kaf HaChaim 25:10 writes in name of the Arizal that one should always put on the Talit first even in such a case. Therefore, the Sh”t Or Letzion 2:44:16 writes that one should leave the Tefillin and engage in another activity, so that when one returns to the Tefillin one may put on the Talit first according to all opinions. [This advise of engaging in another activity in order to remove the issue of not passing up a mitzvah is sourced in the Magan Avraham 25:4 and Mishna Brurah 25:3.] Even though the Halacha Brurah 25:9 argues that once one is involved in a mitzvah one isn’t allowed to engage in a non-mitzvah, still the Divrei Shalom (vol 1 pg 23), Yalkut Yosef (Sherit Yosef 1 pg 315-7), and Halachot of Tefillin (by Rabbi Shlomo Churba pg 8) rule in accordance with the Or Letzion.
  18. Magan Avraham 25:1 argues that the principle of not passing up a mitzvah doesn’t apply if one takes the Tefillin in their bag before taking the Talit. So holds the S”A HaRav 25:3. However, Kitzur S”A 10:2, Maamer Mordechai 25:3, Nehar Shalom 25:1, Nishmat Adam 13:2, Levush 25, Taz 25:10, Eliyah Rabba 25:4, Chaye Adam 13:1, Shalmei Tzibbur (pg 37a), Siddur Bet Ovad (Makom Hanachat Tefillin 1), Kaf HaChaim 25:6, and Mishna Brurah (Biur Halacha 25:1 D”H Shelo Yanichu) rule that the principle of not passing up a mitzvah applies even if the Tefillin are still in their bag.
  19. Mishna Brurah 25:4 writes that the principle of not passing up on a mitzvah applies even to when one mitzvah is in the room that one is in and the other mitzvah is in another room. Therefore the same halacha as when one picks up Tefillin before Talit applies as above.
  20. Mishna Brurah 25:5, Halacha Brurah (Birur Halach 25:2)
  21. Mishna Brurah (Buir Halacha 25) writes that if one is embarrassed to put on the Tefillin first there is a doubt whether one may put on the Talit first. Yalkut Yosef (Sherit Yosef 1 pg 318) writes that since we hold that the principle of not passing up a mitzvah is only derabbanan, we override the Derabbanan with Kavod HaBriot. [whether not passing up a mitzvah is derabbanan or deorittah is a dispute in the rishonim and achronim, see Yalkut Yosef (Sherit Yosef 1 pg 317-8).]
  22. S”A 25:5
  23. Mishna Brurah 25:16
  24. S”A 60:4
  25. The torah mentions Tefillin twice when recalling the The Exodus from Egypt as in Exodus 13:9 it reads "And it shall be for a sign for you upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand did the LORD bring you out of Egypt." and Exodus 13:16 "And it shall be for a sign upon your hand, and as totafot between your eyes; for with a mighty hand did the LORD bring us forth out of Egypt." and twice in the first two paragraphs of Kriat Shema as in Deuteronomy 6:8 it says "And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes." and lastly in Deuteronomy 11:18 "You shall put these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall tie them for a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes."
  26. The Rambam(Sefer HaMitzvot Mitzvah Aseh 12 and 13) and Sefer HaChinuch (421) record this as a mitzvah that applies to every male individual even nowadays.
  27. S"A 34:2 rules that that the especially pious should wear both sets, but added that only one commonly known to be especially pious may do so, so as not to appear as arrogant in one's piety.
  28. S"A 27:1, 27:6
  29. S"A 25:5
  30. S"A 25:8
  31. S"A 25:5
  32. S"A 25:9
  33. S"A 25:9
  34. Rama 25:5
  35. Rama 25:5
  36. S"A 27:1
  37. S”A 27:1, Mishna Brurah 27:4
  38. Piskei Teshuvot 27:1 quoted Tefillah LeMoshe 7:7
  39. S”A 27:1
  40. S”A 27:2
  41. S”A 27:3
  42. Piskei Teshuvot 27:1 inferring from Mishna Brurah 27:34
  43. Piskei Teshuvot 27:1 quoting Shraga HaMeir 6:46
  44. Halichot Shlomo (Tefillah 4:3), Sh”T Shelmat Chaim 39-40, Kaf HaChaim 4:59
  45. Piskei Teshuvot 27:2 quoting Dinim Vehanahot LeChazon Ish 3:10 and Chelkat Yehoshua 6:7
  46. S”A 27:4, Mishna Brurah 27:16
  47. Chaye Adam 14:15 and Mishna Brurah 44:3
  48. Mishna Brurah 44:3 writes that it’s preferable not to remove one’s mind from the Tefillin at all while wearing them so as not to comet to bad thoughts. Biur Halacha (D”H yashan) explains (based on Or Zaruha 585) that during Tefillah and learning one will certainly have a fear of heaven and not come to lightheartedness.
  49. S"A 28:1 writes that occasionally one should touch one's Tefillin in order to make sure that one's attention doesn't shift from thinking about the Tefillin. Mishna Brurah 28:1 writes that while one is praying one doesn't need to touch one's tefillin for this purpose. Mishna Brurah 44:3 adds that the same is true while one is learning.
  50. S"A 28:1. Mishna Brurah 28:3 explains that this order was chosen in order that when one's hand (the one not wearing Tefillin) touches the Tefillin it doesn't pass over the closer mitzvah of touching the Shel Yad first.
  51. S”A 44:1
  52. S”A 40:8 writes that it’s permitted to have a snack while wearing tefillin. Mishna Brurah 40:19 quotes the Shulchan Shlomo who has a doubt whether this applies nowadays since we don’t wear tefillin all day. However, the Sh”t Teshurat Shai 215 argues that we shouldn’t extend a prohibition based on our own logic.
  53. Piskei Teshuvot 40:8
  54. Mateh Yehudah quoted in Mishna Brurah, kaf hachaim 40:35
  55. S"A 25:4
  56. Baal Halachot Gedolot (cited by Tosafot Moed Katan 19a D"H Rabbi Yosi), Rambam (Hilchot Yom Tov 7:13; explained by Kesef Mishna), Rashba (Sh"t HaRashba 1:690), and Ri (cited by the Hagahot Maimoni Hilchot Tefillin 4:9)
  57. Rambam, Rosh Hilchot Tefillin 16; Or Zarua 1:589; Maharam of Rothenburg cited by the Mordechai
  58. See also http://www.koltorah.org/ravj/tefillinONmoed.htm