Tefillin – The Mark of HaShem

By Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


I. Introduction. 1

II. The Letters. 4

III. Before and After 5

IV. The Mark of HaShem.. 7

V. The Mark of the Beast 10

Nazis and the Swatiska. 20

VI. Common Misconceptions. 20

VII. The Pesach Connection. 21

VIII.  The Purim Connection. 24

IX. Betrothal 25

X. Nazarean Connections. 27

XI. Miscellaneous Thoughts. 28

XII. The Mitzvah. 33

 

In this study I would like to examine HaShem’s sign on His people and the adversary’s signs.

 

I. Introduction[1]

 

Tefillin are Israel’s strength:

 

Berachoth 6a And how do you know that the tefillin are a strength to Israel? For it is written[2]: “And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon thee, and they shall be afraid of thee”.

 

Menachoth 35b It is written,’ And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon thee; and they shall be afraid of thee. It was taught: R. Eliezer the Great says, This refers to the tefillah of the head.

 

What are Tefillin? Tefillin are passages from the Torah that are written on parchment and are placed within square leather batim (casements), with long leather straps attached to the batim. These straps are used to bind the batim with the parchment Torah passages within them, on one's arm and hand and on one's head.

 

Each box contains four passages of the Torah which mention the mitzvah of Tefillin (Deuteronomy 6:4-8, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, Exodus 13:1-10, Exodus 13:11-16).

 

The four Torah portions are written on a single parchment in the hand tefillin (tefillin shel yad), while in the head tefillin (tefillin shel rosh) each passage is written on a separate parchment, so that each passage can be placed within one of the four compartments in the head tefillin. "The four passages are:

 

  1. Shemot (Exodus) 13:1-10
  2. Shemot (Exodus) 13:11-16
  3. Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4-9
  4. Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:13-21

 

 

HaShem also wears tefillin. His arm and head tefillin both contain the same passages because His thoughts and His actions are the same. The following four portions are in HaShem’s tefillin:

 

1.וּמִי כְּעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל, גּוֹי אֶחָד בָּאָרֶץU'Mi K'A’amkha Yisrael Goy Echad Ba'Aretz” – “And who is like Your people Israel, a nation one in the earth” (1 Chronicles 17:21)?

2. כִּי מִי-גוֹי גָּדוֹל Ki Mi Goy Gadol” – “For what great nation” (Deut. 4:7), וּמִי גּוֹי גָּדוֹל U'Mi Goy Gadol” – “And what great nation” (Deut. 4:8)?

3. אַשְׁרֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵלAsh’rekha Yisrael” – Fortunate are you, O Israel” (Deut. 33:29)?

4. אוֹ הֲנִסָּה אֱלֹהִים O Ha-Nisa Elohim” – “Or has G-d assayed” (Deut. 4:34)? and

5.  וּלְתִתְּךָ עֶלְיוֹU'L’titkha El’yon” - and to make you high” (Deut. 26:19)

 

These six Pesukim are arranged in HaShem's Tefilin as follows: "Ki Mi Goy Gadol" and "U'Mi Goy Gadol" in the first Parshah, “Ash’rekha Yisrael” and "U'Mi K’A’amkha Yisrael" in the second, “O Ha-Nisah Elohim" in the third, and "U'L'Titkha El’yon" in the fourth.

 

The mitzva[3] of tefillin is mentioned in four separate parashiyot in the Torah. Two of them, those in Shemot (Exodus) chapter 13, are mentioned in the context of the story of the exodus. In fact, the dominant theme of these two parashiyot is the need to remember the exodus:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 13:8 And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, because of that HaShem did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.

 

The other two parashiyot, Devarim (Deuteronomy) chapters 6 and 11, were first mentioned some forty years later, in the plains of Moav, just prior to entry into Eretz Israel. Here, the main theme concerns acceptance of the yoke of Heaven and of the mitzvot, within the clear context of entry into Eretz Israel and the need to fulfill the mitzvot there. Hence, in short, two parashiyot of tefillin deal with the exodus, and the other two with the purpose of HaShem's nation: acceptance of the yoke of heaven, Torah, mitzvot and Eretz Israel.

 

We will examine these Torah portions in greater detail later in this study.

 

Tefillin are put on in the synagogue before shacharit, morning prayers, on days that are not Shabbat or a Torah based Festival. The Torah based Festivals, when Tefillin are not put on, are the first and last days of Pesach, Shavuot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippurim, and the first and last days of Succoth. It follows that Tefillin ARE worn on Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah, Purim, and Yom ha-Atzma'ut - unless any of these days fall on Shabbat.

 

 A man always needs a sign of his bond with HaShem. Shabbat itself is such a sign, but on the weekdays, this sign is tefillin:

 

Eiruvin 96a Who is it that was heard to hold that Sabbath is a time for the wearing of tefillin? — R. Akiba. For it was taught: Thou shalt, therefore, keep this ordinance in its season form year to year, the term ‘days’ excludes nights, ‘from the days’ implies: But not all days; thus excluding Sabbaths and festivals; so R. Jose the Galilean. R. Akiba said: The expression ‘This ordinance’ was meant to apply to the Passover [sacrifice] only. With reference, however, to what we have learnt: ‘The Paschal [sacrifice] and circumcision are positive commandments’, must it be assumed that this is not in agreement with the view of R. Akiba, for it were to be contended that it was in agreement with R. Akiba the objection would arise: Since he applied it to the Passover [sacrifice] a negative precept also should be involved as R. Akiba laid down in the name of R. Ila'i for R. Abin citing R. Ila'i laid down: Wherever the expressions ‘Take heed’, ‘Lest’ or ‘Do not’ is used a negative precept is invariably intended? — It may be said to be in agreement even with the view of R. Akiba, for the expression ‘Take heed’ has the force of a negative precept only where it introduces a prohibitions but where it introduces a positive commandment it has the force of a positive commandment. But how could R. Akiba hold that the Sabbath is a time for wearing tefillin seeing that it was taught: R. Akiba stated: As it might have been presented that a man shall wear tefillin on Sabbaths and festivals, it was explicitly said in Scripture: And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, which denotes: on those days only that require a sign; but these, since they themselves are a sign, are excluded.

 

Gemara is allegory. What is the allegory?

 

There are two related concepts: allegory and metaphor. Lets examine the dictionary definitions:

 

Allegory: The representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form. A symbolic representation: The blindfolded figure with scales is an allegory of justice.

 

Metaphor: A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison, as in “a sea of troubles” or “All the world's a stage” (Shakespeare).

One thing conceived as representing another; a symbol: “Hollywood has always been an irresistible, prefabricated metaphor for the crass, the materialistic, the shallow, and the craven” (Neal Gabler).

 

Of the six hundred-thirteen mitzvot, only three are referred to as an אות "ot", a sign representing the eternal bond between HaShem and the Jewish people. Those mitzvot are:

  1. Milah (circumcision),
  2. Shabbat, and
  3. Tefillin.

 

These signs are witnesses which bear constant testimony to the love that HaShem has for Israel, and the miracles which He has wrought on their behalf, And just as there is a need for two witnesses to give any matter legal credence, so too, it is necessary to be involved with two of these "signs" constantly to remind us of our responsibilities. Therefore, on the weekday we have the tefillin and the sign of Milah. On Shabbat, the day itself is a sign, so all that is needed is the sign of Milah, and there is no need for the third sign, tefillin. In fact, according to some opinions, it is forbidden to don tefillin on Shabbat because the sign of tefillin detracts from the sanctity of the sign of Shabbat.

 

So, what is the allegory of this verse? I have a small thought:

 

Milah, Shabbat, and Tefillin each speak to an intimate connection with HaShem.

 

Milah is used to connect with one’s wife and with HaShem to produce a child.

 

Shabbat is the day of connection, as seven is always associtaed with connection. We do several things in a special manner on Shabbat. We eat special food and drink in order to connect our soul to our body. We pray special prayers and have a special Torah reading in order to connect with HaShem. We have marital intimacy in order to physically connect two human beings. Even the number seven speaks to connecting. Consider that every physical object has seven parts. Six sides: front, back, to, bottom, left and right, and a seventh which is the center that connects the six disparate sides.

 

Tefillin also speaks to connections. The head tefillin is centered on the head. Now we know that every organ of the body, internal and external, which is in the center, is used for connecting as we learned in the study of the human body. The arm tefillin forms a ring on the finger as an act of betrothal. Betrothal is, of course, another form of connection. The tefillin is placed opposite the heart, which is an organ which is centered between the sholders and the belt, between the left and right side, and also centered front to back in the body. Further the tefillin are bound in a tight physical connection to the human body.

 

Since we only need two connections to bear witness of our connection with HaShem, then we do not require the connection with the third sign. Thus the sign is an allegory of an intimate connection between HaShem and His people.

 

Tefillin and Longevity

 

The students asked Rabbi Ada ben Ahavah, “Why were you worthy of such long life?” He replied, “One reason is because I always wore tefillin”:

 

Taanit 20b Thus it has been stated: The disciples of R. Adda b. Ahabah asked him: To what do you attribute your longevity? — He replied: I have never displayed any impatience in my house, and I have never walked in front of any man greater than myself, nor have I ever meditated [over the words of the Torah] in any dirty alleys, nor have I ever walked four cubits without [musing over] the Torah or without [wearing] phylacteries, nor have I ever fallen asleep in the Beth Hamidrash for any length of time or even momentarily, nor have I rejoiced at the disgrace of my friends, nor have I ever called my neighbour by a nickname given to him by myself, or, some say by the nickname given to him by others.

 

Thus we see that that longevity of life is related to wearing tefillin.

 

II. The Letters

 

The ש shin appears on the tefillin in two forms: on the left side of the one worn on the head, the letter is embossed with four splays[4] ,

 

 

while on the right side of the one used for the arm, the standard three-headed version of the ש shin is used. The two forms infer the two kinds of Divine wisdom - the revealed and the concealed. The four ו vav form of the shin originates from the Ten Commandments, on which the  shin appeared with four heads. This fourth head is said to represent the World to Come, the concealed ways of HaShem, and the future revelation of the Mashiach.

 

The letter a shin is formed from three letter ו vavs. These are depicted as three separate entities that combine in completeness. The verticality of the structure suggests ascension and symmetry. According to the Zohar, the three ו vavs infer the three fathers of Israel (Avraham, Isaac, and Yaaqov). The three vavs of the letter shin signify the three tribes in which the Jewish people are divided, and therefore the three divisions of Jewish souls, being the Israelites, the Levites and the Kohanim (priests).

 

There is a knot on the head tefillin straps. The knot that goes at the base of the skull is shaped like a ד dalet.

 

 

The arm tefillin straps have a knot formed like a י yod.

 

 

Together the ש shin, ד dalet, and י yod form the name שדי Shaddai (Almighty).

 

The Midrash says that at the beginning of creation the world developed and approached perfection. Then, HaShem told it to stop and remain imperfect. Commentaries explain that the purpose was to leave the world incomplete and allow man to bring it to absolute perfection. This would allow man the opportunity to earn his own reward and enjoy HaShem’s pleasure - entirely.

 

This expression of HaShem is captured by a particular name of HaShem: שדי Shaddai. שדי is formed with a ש shin (the only letter not made of knots) and די dai, the Hebrew word which means “enough”. This refers to the end of the Creation process when HaShem said “enough”, reinforcing His mastery over the limitations of the universe.

 

That is why our Tefillin have those three letters: ש shin, ד dalet, and י yod within them: Tefillin capture the purpose of creation; שדי Shaddai pictures HaShem’s giving man the opportunity to earn reward on his own.

 

III. Before and After

 

Our Sages teach us that the passages that come just before or just after a particular passage, give insight and understanding to the passage being studied. This is called the rule of adjacent sections (semikhut parshiot). I would like to use this technique to see what other insights can be gained by examining the passages in the tefillin.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 13:1-10

Shemot (Exodus) 13:11-16

 

The passage which precedes Shemot 13:1 is:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:43-51 And HaShem said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44 But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to HaShem, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. 50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as HaShem commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 51 And it came to pass the selfsame day, HaShem did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

 

From these pasukim we learn that the sign of tefillin is given to those who are NOT strangers (v.43). This sign is given to those circumcised individuals who celebrate Pesach (v.48). Tefillin are related to those who serve HaShem by keeping the mitzvot (v.49-50). Finally, tefillin in intimately related to the exodus from Egypt when HaShem began His courtship of the Bnei Israel.

 

The passage which precedes Shemot 13:16 is:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 13:17-22 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that G-d led them not the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for G-d said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18 But G-d led the people about, the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. 19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, G-d will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. 20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 21 And HaShem went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

 

From these pasukim we learn that the sign of tefillin is given to those who are protected and sheltered by HaShem, to those who will never return to Egypt (v.17). Tefillin is related to the bones of Yosef and the carrying up of those bones from Egypt (v.19). Tefillin are related to the manifested Presence of HaShem and His protection (v.21-22).

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4-9

 

The passage which precedes Devarim 6:4 is:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:1-3 Now these the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which HaShem your G-d commanded to teach you, that ye might do in the land whither ye go to possess it: 2 That thou mightest fear HaShem thy G-d, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as HaShem G-d of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.

 

From these pasukim we learn that the sign of tefillin is given to those who accepted the covenant at Sinai and have pledged to obey all the Torah of HaShem (v.1-2). Those who do as they promised are assured of long life, numerous progeny, and a portion in a land flowing with milk and honey (v.3).

 

The passage which follows Devarim 6:9 is:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:10-16 And it shall be, when HaShem thy G-d shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, 11 And houses full of all good, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; 12 beware lest thou forget HaShem, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 13 Thou shalt fear HaShem thy G-d, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. 14 Ye shall not go after other G-ds, of the G-ds of the people which round about you; 15 (For HaShem thy G-d is a jealous G-d among you) lest the anger of HaShem thy G-d be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. 16 Ye shall not tempt HaShem your G-d, as ye tempted in Massah.

 

From these pasukim we learn that the sign of tefillin is given to the owners of the promised land, a land pre-built and ready to inhabit (v.10-11). This pasuk also relates tefillin to the exodus of Egypt, to those HaShem took out from bondage (Avodah) in order to serve (Avodah) HaShem. Tefillin is directly related to those who do NOT serve false G-ds and serve HaShem alone (v.15). Finally, tefillin is not for those who tempt HaShem (v.16).

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:13-21

 

The passage which precedes Devarim 11:13 is:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:8-12 Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; 9 And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which HaShem sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey. 10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: 11 But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: 12 A land which HaShem thy G-d careth for: the eyes of HaShem thy G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.

 

From these pasukim we learn that the sign of tefillin is given as a sign to those who keep the commandments of HaShem (v.8). Tefillin are again connected with the promised land and those who will inherit that beautiful land (v.8-12).

 

The passage which follows Devarim 11:21 is:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:22-25 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love HaShem your G-d, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him; 23 Then will HaShem drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves. 24 Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be. 25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for HaShem your G-d shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.

 

From these pasukim we learn that the sign of tefillin is given as a sign to those who diligently keep all of the commandments of HaShem (v.22). Tefillin are related to the land that HaShem will clear for those who keep His commands (v.23-25).

 

There are several related themes found in these before and after passages:

 

  1. The Promised Land

 

  1. Pesach

 

  1. Observing Torah and commandments

 

  1. Serving HaShem alone

 

  1. The protection and Presence of HaShem.

 

IV. The Mark of HaShem

 

Tefillin are called the sign, or mark, of HaShem in:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

 

This pasuk is part of the Shema which we say twice a day. We are reminding ourselves of HaShem and His mitzvot which are our intimate connection with Him. Tefillin being a mark of HaShem is also mentioned in the Talmud:

 

Shabbath 12a The School of R. Ishmael taught: A man may go out with his tefillin on the eve of Sabbath near nightfall. What's the reason? Because Rabbah son of R. Huna said: One must feel his tefillin every now and then, [inferring] a minori from [the High Priest's] headplate. If in the case of the headplate, which contained the Divine Name only once, yet the Torah said, and it shall always be on his forehead, [i.e.,] his mind must not be diverted from it; then with the tefillin, which contain the Divine Name many times, how much more so! therefore he is fully cognizant thereof.

 

The Midrash also speaks of this sign:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XIX:8 … Make thereof a sign upon thy hand and upon thy head, as it says: And it shall be for a sign upon thy hand, etc. (ib. 16). It can be compared to a king who made a great banquet for his daughter [on her release] after she had been imprisoned by enemies. Her father then said to her: ‘Make this day one of rejoicing, for I have provided a crown for thy head so that thou dost not forget it.’ G-d, likewise, performed miracles for Israel, slaying the firstborn of the Egyptians on their account: for this reason, did He exhort them concerning the sanctity of the firstborn, for He with His own hands had slain them, as it says: That the Lord slew all the firstborn (ib. 15), so that they might be a crown upon the heads of Israel, so that the miracle may never be forgotten by them.

 

Finally, the Zohar also speaks of this sign:

 

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 2b The letter Tau advanced in front and pleaded: May it please Thee, O Lord of the world, to place me first in the creation of the world, seeing that I am the concluding letter of EMeTh (Truth) which is engraved upon Thy seal, and seeing that Thou art called by this very name of EMeTh, it is most appropriate for the King to begin with the final letter of EMeTh and to create with me the world. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to her: Thou art worthy and deserving, but it is not proper that I begin with thee the creation of the world, since thou art destined to serve as a mark on the foreheads of the faithful ones (vide Ezek. IX, 4) who have kept the Law from Aleph to Tau, and through the absence of this mark the rest will be killed; and, further, thou formest the conclusion of MaWeTh (death). Hence thou art not meet to initiate the creation of the world.

 

In our time, the practice is to wear tefillin during the entire weekday Shacharit service. Since the commandment of tefillin has its source in the verse "Bind them for a sign upon thine hand and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes" (Devarim 6:8), on Shabbats and festivals, tefillin are not put on. The reason for this is that the word "sign" (ot) is also mentioned in the commandment of the Shabbat, as it is written: "The Children of Israel shall keep the Shabbat, observing the Shabbat throughout the ages as a covenant for all time: it shall be a sign for all time between Me and the people of Israel" (Shemot 31:16-17), and one sign (that of the tefillin) is not placed on another (that of the Shabbat); the festivals are comparable to the Shabbat. Tefillin are a time dependent command and are not incumbent on women.

 

 

Tefillin are a sign of the special bond of love between HaShem and man. We show how intimate this love is, when, as we bind them, we say:

 

I will betroth You to me with right and justice, with love and mercy.

I will betroth You to me with faith … and you shall know HaShem.

 

In Hosea 2:21-22 it is said: 'And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever … and thou shalt know the Lord …' The use of the word 'know' refers to knowledge in the deepest sense of the word. It is also used to describe sexual intercourse. Therefore, this verse further impresses upon the reader the bind between man and HaShem.

 

Faith and love are very tenuous things. We can speak of them and think about them. But unless we do something about them we tend to forget; tefillin serve to help us remember.

 

Strong’s Concordance gives us some insights into the Hebrew word for sign:

 

0226. Æowth oth; probably from 0225 (in the sense of appearing); a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.:— mark, miracle, (en-)sign, token.

 

As we mentioned earlier, of the six hundred-thirteen mitzvot, only three are referred to as an ‘ot’, a sign representing the eternal bond between HaShem and His people. Those mitzvot are:

 

  1. Milah (circumcision),
  2. Shabbat, and
  3. Tefillin.

 

The Talmud brings some more light on the relationship between these three signs:

 

Menachoth 36b And could Rabbah b. R. Huna have said so? Did not Rabbah b. R. Huna say that if it was doubtful whether darkness had already fallen or not, one should not take them off nor put them on? Now it follows from this that if it were certain that darkness had fallen one would have to take them off! — This was stated with regard to the eve of Sabbath. But what can be his view? If he holds that the night is a time for tefillin, then the Sabbath is also a time for tefillin, and if, on the other hand, he holds that the night is not a time for tefillin, then the Sabbath, too, is not a time for tefillin, since the same passage which excludes the Sabbath [from the wearing of tefillin] also excludes the night. For it was taught: It is written, And thou shalt observe this ordinance in its season from day to day. ‘Day’, but not night; ‘from day’, but not all days; hence the Sabbaths and the Festivals are excluded. So R. Jose the Galilean; but R. Akiba says, This ordinance refers only to the Passover-offering! — He derives it from the text from which R. Akiba derives it. For it was taught: One might have thought that a man should put on the tefillin on Sabbaths and on Festivals, Scripture therefore says, And it shall be for a sign upon thy hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes, that is, [only on those days] which stand in need of a sign [are tefillin to be worn], but Sabbaths and Festivals are excluded, since they themselves are a sign.

 

The first use of the Hebrew word, ot, is found in:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:14 And G-d said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

 

In the above passage we can see that signs are related to time and for light.

 

The Nazarean Codicil also speaks of a mystical seal (mark):

 

Revelation 9:4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of G-d in their foreheads.

 

This points us to Revelation. 7:4ff where the 144,000s are sealed with "the seal of the living God". In Revelation 14:1 we read that these 144,000s have "his [the Lamb's] Father's name written on their foreheads." They are also described as "being firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb":

 

Revelation 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto G-d and to the Lamb.

 

In Hebrew "firstfruits" and "firstborn" are the spelled with the same characters but pronounced differently. Remember that Pesach is to be a sign upon ones hand and forehead (Shemot 13:9, 16) and that at Pesach, the blood of the Lamb redeems the firstborn and protects them from the plague of the firstborn. The seal of the living HaShem in Revelation is clearly connected to the mitzvot of Pesach, the tefillin, and the whole Torah. This seems in Revelation to be contrasted with the "mark of the Beast" (Rev. 13:16-17; 14:9, 11; 20:4).

 

Hag Shavuot is also the day of our betrothal to HaShem.  It is interesting that Hag Shavuot is also called Atzeret, completion. It is called atzeret because it is the completion of Pesach. Pesach is connected to Hag Shavuot by the counting of the omer. Thus the goal of Pesach is the betrothal of HaShem to His people.

 

Tefillin is a mitzva, which signifies betrothing the Word (Torah = Yeshua) unto one¹s self! This is how we connect and become a part of the body.

 

The Talmud teaches us that HaShem also wears tefillin too:

 

Berachoth 6a R. Nahman b. Isaac said to R. Hiyya b. Abin: What is written in the tefillin of the Lord of the Universe? — He replied to him: And who is like Thy people Israel, a nation one in the earth. Does, then, the Holy One, blessed be He, sing the praises of Israel? — Yes, for it is written: Thou hast avouched the Lord this day . . . and the Lord hath avouched thee this day. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: You have made me a unique entity in the world, and I shall make you a unique entity in the world. ‘You have made me a unique entity in the world’, as it is said: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is one. ‘And I shall make you a unique entity in the world’, as it is said: And who is like Thy people Israel, a nation one in the earth. R. Aha b. Raba said to R. Ashi: This accounts for one case, what about the other cases? — He replied to him: [They contain the following verses]: For what great nation is there, etc.; And what great nation is there, etc.; Happy art thou, O Israel, etc.; Or hath G-d assayed, etc.; and To make thee high above all nations. If so, there would be too many cases? — Hence [you must say]: For what great nation is there, and what great nation is there, which are similar, are in one case; Happy art thou, O Israel, and Who is like Thy people, in one case; Or hath G-d assayed, in one case; and To make thee high, in one case. And all these verses are written on [the tefillin of] His arm.

 

And in the same manner in which our Tefillin must be perfectly black in color, so too HaShem's Tefillin must be perfectly white.

 

The Number Four

 

The Book of Devarim is like the tefillin worn on the hand [whose box has only one compartment], while the four other books (of the Five Books of Moshe) are like the tefillin worn on the forehead whose parchments are rolled individually and set in four different chambers. This analogy also reminds us of the fingers on our hand. Four fingers are similar and one is different and fatter (the thumb). This reminds us of the meaning of the numbers four and five:

 

According to Chazal, our Sages, the number four signifies completion or fullness.

 

The number five represents the perfection of the natural order (the number four), with the addition of one: HaShem Himself.

 

And, in the same way, everything that has been said in the preceding four books, of the Torah, is contained in Devarim, so, all the Torah passages are [rolled into a single scroll contained] in the one house of the tefillin worn on the hand.

 

YYY

 

Succah 25a Tefillin are called the glory of Israel.

 

V. The Mark of the Beast

 

What do tefillin have to do with the mark of the beast? Perhaps nothing. However, it should be noted that the mark of the beast is a sign on the hand and forehead, and the Torah passages about the tefillin are the only other places in Scripture where anything else is ever spoken of as a sign or mark on both the hand and forehead. The only two things in the Torah that are described as a sign or mark on both the hand and forehead are the tefillin and the mark of the beast. At the very least, this should tell us that there is a very strong likelihood of some kind of connection between the tefillin and the mark of the beast. If we can understand the deeper meaning of the tefillin as the mark of HaShem, then we should be able to understand the mark of the beast as a counterfeit of whatever the tefillin represent.

 

It is axiomatic that all truth can be falsified. The mark of HaShem is no exception. The antithesis of the mark of HaShem is the mark of the beast. Where do we find the term: “Mark of the beast”? (Keep in mind that the Book of Revelation is sod level literature where everything is a symbol and there is no literal meaning.)

 

Revelation 16:1-2 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of G-d upon the earth. 2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

 

And:

 

Revelation 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

 

In the above passages the mark of the beast is viewed as something which was given earlier. This mark is first mentioned in:

 

Revelation13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

 

There is another connection that is worth noting:

 

Daniel 7:23-25 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. 24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. 25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

 

From this passage we learn that the beast desires to change the times of HaShem and His laws. This suggests that the mark of the beast is intimately related to time and to the Torah.

 

The mark of the beast is on their right hand or forehead. The placement of this mark suggests tefillin which are placed similarly (between the eyes and on the weaker hand):

 

Shemot (Exodus) 13:15-16 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that HaShem slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to HaShem all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. 16 And it shall be for a sign upon thine hand, and for tefillin between thine eyes: for by strength of hand HaShem brought us forth out of Egypt.

 

From the above passage we can see that Pesach shall be for a sign upon thine hand, and for a tefillin between thine eyes....

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4-8 Hear, O Israel: HaShem our G-d is one HaShem: 5 And thou shalt love HaShem thy G-d with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as tefillin between thine eyes.

 

And thou shalt bind them [the mitzvot] for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as tefillin between thine eyes.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:18 ¶Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as tefillin between your eyes.

 

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them [mitzvot] for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as tefillin between your eyes.

 

There are many varying opinions as to what constitutes the mark of the beast. Most limit the definition to the last days and promote it as being some sort of literal or visible mark, logo, stamp, implant, identity chip, or sign. Most also try to understand the meaning behind the number 666, which is mentioned in a single passage within the context of the discussion regarding the mark. Whatever this mark is, the righteous need to avoid it because of the terrible consequences allotted to those who have the mark:

 

Revelation 14:9-11 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of G-d, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

 

Revelation 16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

 

Revelation 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

 

To properly identify the mark of the beast we need to clearly understand the mark of HaShem.

 

Study carefully these two translations to begin to understand what is a beast and what is a mark:

 

Murphy’s

Peshitta Translation

Young’s

Literal Translation

13:1 ¶ And I saw a beast of prey come up from the sea, having ten horns, and seven heads; and upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy.

13:1 ¶ And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw out of the sea a beast coming up, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon its horns ten diadems, and upon its heads a name of evil speaking,

2 And the beast of prey which I saw, was like a leopard; and his feet like those of a wolf, and his mouth like the mouth of lions: and the dragon gave to him his own power and his throne, and great authority.

2 and the beast that I saw was like to a leopard, and its feet as of a bear, and its mouth as the mouth of a lion, and the dragon did give to it his power, and his throne, and great authority.

3 And one of his heads was wounded as it were to death; and his deadly wound was healed. And all the earth wondered after the beast of prey.

3 And I saw one of its heads as slain to death, and its deadly stroke was healed, and all the earth did wonder after the beast,

4 And they worshipped the dragon, because he had given authority to this beast of prey, and they said, who can make war upon him?

4 and they did bow before the dragon who did give authority to the beast, and they did bow before the beast, saying, ‘Who is like to the beast? who is able to war with it?’

5 And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies: and authority was given him to operate forty and two months.

5 And there was given to it a mouth speaking great things, and evil-speakings, and there was given to it authority to make war forty-two months,

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy towards G-d, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, and them who dwell in heaven.

6 and it did open its mouth for evil-speaking toward G-d, to speak evil of His name, and of His tabernacle, and of those who in the heaven tabernacle,

7 And authority was given him over every tribe and people and tongue and nation: and it was given him to wage war with the saints, and to overcome them.

7 and there was given to it to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, and there was given to it authority over every tribe, and tongue, and nation.

8 And all that dwell on the earth, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, will worship him.

8 And bow before it shall all who are dwelling upon the land, whose names have not been written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;

9 If any one hath ears, let him hear.

9 if any one hath an ear—let him hear:

10 If any one carrieth into captivity, he shall himself go into captivity; and if any one slayeth with the sword, he must be slain with the sword: here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

10 if any one a captivity doth gather, into captivity he doth go away; if any one by sword doth kill, it behoveth him by sword to be killed; here is the endurance and the faith of the saints.

 

 

11 ¶ And I saw another beast of prey, which came out of the earth; and he had two horns like those of a lamb, and he spoke like the dragon.

11 ¶ And I saw another beast coming up out of the land, and it had two horns, like a lamb, and it was speaking as a dragon,

12 And before him he exercised all the authority of the first beast of prey, whose deadly wound was healed.

12 and all the authority of the first beast doth it do before it, and it maketh the land and those dwelling in it that they shall bow before the first beast, whose deadly stroke was healed,

13 And he wrought great signs, even so as to make fire come down from heaven upon the earth, before men.

13 and it doth great signs, that fire also it may make to come down from the heaven to the earth before men,

14 And he seduced them that dwell on the earth, to erect an image to the beast of prey who had the wound from a sword and recovered.

14 and it leadeth astray those dwelling on the land, because of the signs that were given it to do before the beast, saying to those dwelling upon the land to make an image to the beast that hath the stroke of the sword and did live,

15 And it was given him to put life into the image of the beast of prey; and to cause that all they who would not worship the image of the beast of prey, should be slain:

15 and there was given to it to give a spirit to the image of the beast, that also the image of the beast may speak, and that it may cause as many as shall not bow before the image of the beast, that they may be killed.

16 and to cause that all, great and small, rich and poor, bond and free, should receive a mark on their right hands, or upon their foreheads;

16 And it maketh all, the small, and the great, and the rich, and the poor, and the freemen, and the servants, that it may give to them a mark upon their right hand or upon their foreheads,

17 so that no one might be able to buy or to sell, except those who had the mark of the name of the beast of prey, or the number of his name.

17 and that no one may be able to buy, or to sell, except he who is having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

18 Here is wisdom: let him that hath intelligence, compute the number of the beast of prey; for it is the number of a man: and its number is six hundred and sixty and six.

 

18 Here is the wisdom! He who is having the understanding, let him count the number of the beast, for the number of a man it is, and its number is six hundred and sixty six.

 

 

 

14:6 ¶ And I saw another angel flying in heaven: and with blood, he had the everlasting gospel, to proclaim to dwellers on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;

14:6 ¶ And I saw another messenger flying in mid-heaven, having good news age-during to proclaim to those dwelling upon the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people,

7 saying with a loud voice, Worship G-d, and give glory to him; because the hour of his judgment is come; and adore ye Him, who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water.

7 saying in a great voice, ‘Fear ye G-d, and give to Him glory, because come did the hour of His judgment, and bow ye before Him who did make the heaven, and the land, and sea, and fountains of waters.’

8 And another, a second angel followed him, saying: Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, which made all nations drink of the wine of the rage of her whoredom.

8 And another messenger did follow, saying, ‘Fall, fall, did Babylon, the great city, because of the wine of the wrath of her whoredom she hath given to all nations to drink.’

9 And another, a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice: If any man shall worship the beast of prey and its image, and shall receive its mark upon his forehead or on his hand,

9 And a third messenger did follow them, saying in a great voice, ‘If any one the beast doth bow before, and his image, and doth receive a mark upon his forehead, or upon his hand,

10 he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of G-d, which is poured undiluted into the cup of his indignation, and shall be tormented with fire and sulphur, before the holy angels, and before the throne.

10 he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of G-d, that hath been mingled unmixed in the cup of His anger, and he shall be tormented in fire and brimstone before the holy messengers, and before the Lamb,

11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and there is no rest, by day or by night, to those that worship the beast of prey and its image.

11 and the smoke of their torment doth go up to ages of ages; and they have no rest day and night, who are bowing before the beast and his image, also if any doth receive the mark of his name.

12 Here is the patience of the saints, who keep the commandments of G-d, and the faith of Yeshua.

 

12 Here is endurance of the saints: here are those keeping the commands of G-d, and the faith of Yeshua.’

 

 

15:1 ¶ And I saw another prodigy in heaven, great and wonderful; seven angels, having seven plagues, the last in order, because with them the wrath of G-d is consummated.

15:1 ¶ And I saw another sign in the heaven, great and wonderful, seven messengers having the seven last plagues, because in these was completed the wrath of G-d,

2 And I saw as it were, a sea of glass mixed with fire: and they, who had been victorious over the beast of prey, and over its image, and over the number of its name, were standing on the sea of glass; and they had the harps of G-d.

 2 and I saw as a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who do gain the victory over the beast, and his image, and his mark, and the number of his name, standing by the sea of the glass, having harps of G-d,

3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of G-d, and the song of the Lamb, saying: Great and marvelous are thy deeds, Lord G-d Almighty; just and true are thy ways, O King of worlds.

3 and they sing the song of Moses, servant of G-d, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and wonderful are Thy works, O Lord G-d, the Almighty, righteous and true are Thy ways, O King of saints,

4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? Because thou only art holy and just: Because all nations shall come and worship before thee, since thy righteousnesses have been revealed.

 

4 who may not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? because Thou alone art kind, because all the nations shall come and bow before Thee, because Thy righteous acts were manifested.’

 

 

16:1 ¶ And I heard a voice, which said to the seven angels: Go forth, and pour those seven cups of the wrath of G-d upon the earth.

16:1 ¶ And I heard a great voice out of the sanctuary saying to the seven messengers, ‘Go away, and pour out the vials of the wrath of G-d to the earth;’

2 And the first went, and poured his cup upon the earth; and there was a malignant and painful ulcer upon those men who had the mark of the beast of prey, and who worshipped its image.

2 and the first did go away, and did pour out his vial upon the land, and there came a sore—bad and grievous—to men, those having the mark of the beast, and those bowing to his image.

3 And the second angel poured his cup upon the sea; and it became blood, like that of a dead person; and every living soul of things in the sea, died.

3 And the second messenger did pour out his vial to the sea, and there came blood as of one dead, and every living soul died in the sea.

4 And the third angel poured his cup upon the rivers and the fountains of water; and they became blood.

4 And the third messenger did pour out his vial to the rivers, and to the fountains of the waters, and there came blood,

5 And I heard the angel of the waters say: Righteous art thou, who art and who wast, and art holy; because thou hast done this judgment.

5 and I heard the messenger of the waters, saying, ‘righteous, O Lord, art Thou, who art, and who wast, and who shalt be, because these things Thou didst judge,

6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets; and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they deserve it.

6 because blood of saints and prophets they did pour out, and blood to them Thou didst give to drink, for they are worthy;’

7 And I heard one from the altar say: Yes, Lord G-d Almighty: true and righteous is thy judgment.

 

7 and I heard another out of the altar, saying, ‘Yes, Lord G-d, the Almighty, true and righteous are Thy judgments.’

 

 

 

19:11 ¶ And I saw heaven opened: and lo, a white horse; and he that sat on it, is called Faithful and True: and in righteousness he judgeth, and maketh war.

19:11 ¶ And I saw the heaven having been opened, and lo, a white horse, and he who is sitting upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness doth he judge and war,

12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on his head were many diadems; and he had names inscribed; and the name which was written on him, no one knew, except himself.

12 and his eyes are as a flame of fire, and upon his head are many diadems—having a name written that no one hath known, except himself,

13 And he was clothed with a vesture sprinkled with blood; and his name is called, The Word of G-d.

13 and he is arrayed with a garment covered with blood, and his name is called, The Word of G-d.

14 And the soldiery of heaven followed him, on white horses, clad in garments of fine linen, pure and white.

14 And the armies in the heaven were following him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen—white and pure;

15 And from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, that with it he could smite the nations; and he will rule the nations with a rod of iron; and he will tread the wine-press of the wrath of G-d Almighty.

15 and out of his mouth doth proceed a sharp sword, that with it he may smite the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, and he doth tread the press of the wine of the wrath and the anger of G-d the Almighty,

16 And he hath upon his vesture and upon his thigh the words written: King of kings, and Lord of lords.

16 and he hath upon the garment and upon his thigh the name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords.’

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven: Come ye, assemble unto this great supper of G-d;

17 And I saw one messenger standing in the sun, and he cried, a great voice, saying to all the birds that are flying in mid-heaven, ‘Come and be gathered together to the supper of the great G-d,

18 that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains of thousands, and the flesh of valiant men, and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all the free-born and of slaves, and of the small and the great.

 

18 that ye may eat flesh of kings, and flesh of chiefs of thousands, and flesh of strong men, and flesh of horses, and of those sitting on them, and the flesh of all—freemen and servants—both small and great.’

19 And I saw the beast of prey, and the kings of the earth, and their warriors, that they assembled to wage battle with him who sat on the white horse, and with his warriors.

19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, having been gathered together to make war with him who is sitting upon the horse, and with his army;

20 And the beast of prey was captured, and the false prophet that was with him, who did those prodigies before him, whereby he seduced them who had received the mark of the beast of prey and who worshipped his image. And they were both cast alive into the lake of fire, which burneth with sulphur.

20 and the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who did the signs before him, in which he led astray those who did receive the mark of the beast, and those who did bow before his image; living they were cast—the two—to the lake of the fire, that is burning with brimstone;

21 And the rest were slain by the sword of him that sat on the horse, by that sword which issueth from his mouth: and all the fowls were satiated with their flesh.

21 and the rest were killed with the sword of him who is sitting on the horse, which sword is proceeding out of his mouth, and all the birds were filled out of their flesh.

 

 

20:1 ¶ And I saw an angel that descended from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a great chain in his hand.

20:1 ¶ And I saw a messenger coming down out of the heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a great chain over his hand,

2 And he seized the dragon, the old serpent, who is the Deceiver and Satan, who seduced the whole habitable world: and he bound him a thousand years.

2 and he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, who is Devil and Adversary, and did bind him a thousand years,

3 And he cast him into the abyss, and closed and sealed upon him; so that he might deceive the nations no more, until these thousand years shall be completed: but after that, he will be loosed for a little time.

3 and he cast him to the abyss, and did shut him up, and put a seal upon him, that he may not lead astray the nations any more, till the thousand years may be finished; and after these it behoveth him to be loosed a little time.

4 And I saw thrones, and persons sat on them, and judgment was given to them, and to the souls that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of G-d: and these are they who had not worshipped the beast of prey, nor its image, neither had they received the mark upon their forehead or on their hand; and they lived and reigned with their Messiah those thousand years.

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them, and the souls of those who have been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus, and because of the word of G-d, and who did not bow before the beast, nor his image, and did not receive the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand, and they did live and reign with Christ the thousand years;

5 This is the first resurrection.

5 and the rest of the dead did not live again till the thousand years may be finished; this is the first rising again.

6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in this first resurrection: over them the second death hath no dominion; but they shall be, nay are, priests of G-d and of his Messiah; and they will reign with him the thousand years.

6 Happy and holy is he who is having part in the first rising again; over these the second death hath not authority, but they shall be priests of G-d and of the Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

7 And when these thousand years shall be completed, Satan will be released from his prison;

7 And when the thousand years may be finished, the Adversary shall be loosed out of his prison,

8 and will go forth to seduce the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog; and to assemble them for battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.

8 and he shall go forth to lead the nations astray, that are in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them together to war, of whom the number is as the sand of the sea;

9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. And fire came down from G-d out of heaven, and consumed them.

9 and they did go up over the breadth of the land, and did surround the camp of the saints, and the beloved city, and there came down fire from G-d out of the heaven, and devoured them;

10 And the Accuser who seduced them, was cast into the lake of fire and sulphur, where also were the beast of prey and the false prophet: and they shall be tormented, day and night, for ever and ever.

 

10 and the Devil, who is leading them astray, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are the beast and the false prophet, and they shall be tormented day and night—to the ages of the ages.

 

Another Connection

 

Throughout Yechezkel (Ezekiel) chapter eight we are told of various "abominations." The first of these involves an "image of jealousy":

 

Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 8:5-6 Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. 6 He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? The great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, thou shalt see greater abominations.

 

Scholars generally identify this as the idol of Astarte[5]. Astarte is also known as Ishtar and Easter. The next "abomination" involves men worshiping in the dark (8:7-12). The next involved women "weeping for Tammuz":

 

Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 8:13-14 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. 14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of HaShem’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.

 

Finally we are shown men facing the east and worshiping the Sun in the east

 

Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 8:15-17 15 Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. 16 And he brought me into the inner court of HaShem’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of HaShem, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of HaShem, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. 17 Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.

 

These images all point to the observance of the Babylonian festival of Easter. This day is similarly observed in Christendom today. Roman Catholics commonly worship with images of Mary whom they call "The Mother of G-d" (a title of the g-ddess Easter). There is a period of mourning for the dead deity (lent), A time in which the altar candles are removed and the altar is dark, followed by rejoicing at his resurrection with a sunrise service. So the "abominations" that those marked on their foreheads are mourning, must be the observance of Easter.

 

It is interesting to note the authority of the Catholic church is so great that when the Pope changed the day for the Sabbath, all of the Protestant churches followed this authority, as we can see from this except of the Catholic catechism:

 

Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept? Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her--she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.

 

Thus we see that the church has changed the Sabbath and Pesach. Additionally, the catholic Sabbath goes from midnight to midnight whereas HaShem’s Shabbat goes from sundown to sundown.

 

Easter, as the most important festival (no matter what they call it) to Catholics and Christians, suggests that Easter is a pars pro toto for all of the Christian festivals and indeed, even their whole calendar. All Biblical events are connected by the Biblical calendar. There is no such relationship with the Gregorian calendar. If this logic be correct, we could say that:

 

The mark of the beast is the following of pagan festivals, a non-Torah calendar, and abandoning the Torah (laws) of HaShem.

 

After all, these folks claim that they do not have to keep the law.

 

Finally, the physical mark that comes closest to tefillin in terms of a relationship to Easter is described by the Catholic Encyclopedia:

 

The Wednesday after Quinquagesima Sunday, which is the first day of the Lenten fast. The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead -- or in case of clerics upon the place of the tonsure -- of each the sign of the cross, saying the words: "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return." The ashes used in this ceremony are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. In the blessing of the ashes four prayers are used, all of them ancient. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and fumigated with incense. The celebrant himself, be he bishop or cardinal, receives, either standing or seated, the ashes from some other priest, usually the highest in dignity of those present.

 

So those with the mark of HaShem are observing Pesach and those with the mark of the beast are observing Easter. There is a clear relationship revealed in this section as follows:

 

Mark of HaShem

Mark of the Beast

Tefillin

Lenten ash cross

Pesach

Easter

HaShem’s Festivals

Man’s Festivals

HaShem’s Calendar

Man’s Calendar

Torah and mitzvot

Anti-Torah

 

Another Perspective

 

According to our Sages, at the battle of Gog and Magog every human in and around the Holy City will be given the mark of the Hebrew letter, tav, upon their forehead. According to the Tanakh {in Ezekiel 9} and the Talmud {in Shabbath 55a}, the Mark of HaShem’s sign – the , tav - will be placed upon everyone in and around Jerusalem. Those that receive the mark in ink will be the righteous and those that receive the mark in blood will be condemned.

 

You shall live

You shall die

 

18 = ו 6 (right) ו 6 (top) ו 6 (left)


The Gematria construction of the Tav is a ו Vav = 6 on the right plus a ו Vav = 6 on the top plus a ו Vav = 6 on the left. The constructed Gematria is 18. The Gematria of 18 equals life!

 

18 = י 10, ח 8 = Life

 

When we examine the Hebrew text of Ezekiel 9:4 we find that the English word “mark” is used to translate the two Hebrew characters תו, which spell out tav, which is how we pronounce the letter ת. This is the passage describing the mark of the wicked:

 

Ezekiel 9:4 And HaShem said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a תו, (a mark – of blood) upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.

 

The mark for the righteous is spelled out in:

 

Ezekiel 9:6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the תו, (a mark- in ink); and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

 

The Hebrew word is the same for the mark which is used for both the righteous and the wicked!

 

Strong’s concordance supplies the following information for this word:

 

08420 תו tav tawv

from 08427; TWOT-2496a; n m

AV-mark 2, desire 1; 3

1) desire, mark

1a) mark (as a sign of exemption from judgment)

 

Then when we examine this subject in the Talmud we find clarification:

 

Shabbath 55a R. Zera said to R. Simeon, Let the Master rebuke the members of the Resh Galutha's suite. They will not accept it from me, was his reply. Though they will not accept its returned he, yet you should rebuke them. For R. Aha b. R. Hanina said: Never did a favourable word go forth from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, of which He retracted for evil, save the following, where it is written, And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark [ת tav] upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof, etc.(Ezek. IX, 4) The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Gabriel,

 

Go and set a ת tav of ink upon the foreheads of the righteous, that the destroying angels may have no power over them;

 

 and a ת tav of blood upon the foreheads of the wicked, that the destroying angels may have power over them.

 

Said the Attribute of Justice before the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Wherein are these different from those?’ ‘Those are completely righteous men, while these are completely wicked,’ replied He. ‘Sovereign of the Universe!’ it continued, ‘they had the power to protest but did not.’ ‘It was fully known to them that had they protested they would not have heeded them.’ ‘Sovereign of the Universe!’ said he, ‘If it was revealed to Thee, was it revealed to them?’ Hence it is written, [Slay utterly] the old man, the young and the maiden, and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my Sanctuary [mikdashi]. Then they began at the elders which were before the house.(Ezek. IX, 6) R. Joseph recited: Read not mikdashi but mekuddashay [my sanctified ones]: this refers to the people who fulfilled the Torah from alef to taw. And straightway, And behold, six men came from the way of the upper gate, which lieth toward the north, every man with his slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man in the midst of them clothed in linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side. And they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar. Was then the brazen altar [still] in existence? — The Holy One, blessed be He, spake thus to them; Commence [destruction] from the place where song is uttered before Me. And who were the six men? — Said R. Hisda: Indignation [Kezef], Anger [Af], Wrath [Hemah], Destroyer [Mashhith] Breaker [Meshabber] and Annihilator [Mekaleh]. And why a ת tav? — Said Rab: , Tav [stands for] tihyeh [thou shalt live], ת tav [stands for] tamuth [thou shalt die]. Samuel said: The ת tav denotes, the merit of the Patriarchs is exhausted [tamah]. R. Johanan said: The merit of the Patriarchs will confer grace [tahon]. While Resh Lakish said: ת Tav is the end of the seal of the Holy One, blessed be He. For R. Hanina said: The seal of the Holy One, blessed be He, is emeth [truth]. R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: It denotes the people who fulfilled the Torah from א alef to ת tav.

 

Jerome and many others have thought that the letter ת tav was that which was ordered to be placed on the foreheads of those mourners; and Jerome says, that this Hebrew letter ת tav was formerly written like a cross. So then the people were to be signed with the sign of the cross! This ancient Hebrew character also had a meaning: Mark, Sign, Signal, or Monument.

 

Nazis and the Swatiska

 

One possible way to see the counterfit sign is to examing the nazis.

 

The nazi salute was a gesture of greeting in Nazi Germany. The salute was performed by extending the RIGHT arm to at least eye level, and straightening the hand so that it is parallel to the arm. However, the nazi swastika symbol was worn on the LEFT arm, next to the heart

 

Tefillin[6] are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. The hand-tefillin is placed on the LEFT arm, starting next to the heart, while the head-tefillin is placed above the forehead. The Torah commands to wear them to serve as a “sign” and “remembrance” that HaShem brought the children of Israel out of slavery.

 

Note how the swatika resembles four tavs (ת) hooked together.

 

VI. Common Misconceptions

 

At this point I will point out why some of the common definitions for the mark of the beast cannot possibly be correct. Some of the common sensationalized concepts of the mark of the beast present it as being:

 

  1. An implanted electronic ID chip
  2. An Identity card
  3. A common currency or some other "global" object of trade or identification. Some consider the "cashless" society to be the means by which mankind will receive the mark through the exclusive use of credit cards or debit cards.

 

There is a common problem shared by all such concepts, which proves them to be incorrect. That problem is that NONE of these imply rebellion against HaShem! None of these are forbidden by the Torah! How does the use of a debit card show one to be sinful? How does accepting an ID card indicate spiritual rebellion? How can it be shown that an implanted chip proves one to be practicing willful disobedience to HaShem?

 

Look at what happens to those who take this mark:

 

Revelation 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

 

Those who take the mark lose their place in the world to come. Where in the Torah does it tell you that it is a very serious sin to have a credit card or chip put under your skin? I can not find any such command, nor do I hear our Hakhamim ruling against such things. So whatever this mark is, it must be something forbidden by the Torah with extreme consequences (what ever a lake of fire turns out to be.)

 

VII. The Pesach Connection

 

Both tefillin and the blood of Pesach are called signs. This clearly links tefillin to Pesach:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the G-ds of Egypt I will execute judgment: I HaShem. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a sign upon the houses where ye are: and when I see HaShem, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy, when I smite the land of Egypt.

 

Twice in Shemot 19, the daily mitzva of tefillin is linked to the exodus from Egypt. First the Torah commands, "It shall be for you a sign on your arm and a reminder between your eyes. . .that HaShem removed you from Egypt" (Exodus 13:9). Several verses later, we again read: "It shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes, that with a strong hand HaShem removed us from Egypt" (ibid. 13:16).

 

What is the connection between the wearing of tefillin and the exodus from Egypt? Rashi, the fundamental Torah commentator, explains that it is the exodus from Egypt that should be remembered through the wearing of tefillin, since amongst the paragraphs inscribed in the tefillin boxes are two from this week's Torah portion which discuss the exodus. Writing these paragraphs and binding them upon our arms and heads serves as a daily reminder of HaShem's role in our exodus from Egypt. This critical message must be continually reinforced, as if it were written directly on our hands and heads.

 

To fully understand the connection between tefillin and the exodus, we must first grasp the meaning and symbolism of these two concepts individually. The exodus from Egypt signaled the onset of the process whereby an eternal bond was forged between HaShem and the Jewish nation. HaShem freed the Israelites from the hands of their bondsmen, split the sea, and gave them the Torah with the entire world watching. These miraculous events were a sign to the world that HaShem had selected the Jews as His chosen people. Thus, the commandment to remember the exodus from Egypt is essentially a commandment to remember the origins of our connection to HaShem.

 

Similarly, the mitzva of tefillin acts as a reminder of our connection with HaShem. Tefillin are the physical manifestation of the Jewish people's bond with the Creator. As the Talmud says, "Man always needs a sign of his bond with G-d. . . on weekdays this sign is tefillin".[7] Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, in his book entitled Tefillin, explains that the windings around the middle finger symbolize the bond of love between HaShem and Israel. In a sense, the straps on the hand represent a wedding ring. We literally bind ourselves with HaShem's love. Through the tefillin we can actually see and feel this bond. When we bind tefillin to our bodies, we relive the bond of love that was forged at Mt. Sinai between HaShem and His people.

 

The Torah In The Tefillin

Shemot (Exodus) 13:1-10

Shemot (Exodus) 13:11-16

 

A cursory examination of the Torah portions which speak of the Tefillin, show that in every case they are associated with Pesach (Passover):

 

Shemot (Exodus) 13:1-16 And HaShem spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 ‘Sanctify unto Me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast, it is Mine.’ 3 And Moses said unto the people: ‘Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand HaShem brought you out from this place; there shall no leavened bread be eaten. 4 This day ye go forth in the month Abib. 5 And it shall be when HaShem shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which He swore unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to HaShem. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee, in all thy borders. 8 And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: It is because of that which HaShem did for me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thy hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the law of HaShem may be in thy mouth; for with a strong hand hath HaShem brought thee out of Egypt. 10 Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year. 11 And it shall be when HaShem shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanite, as He swore unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, 12 that thou shalt set apart unto HaShem all that openeth the womb; every firstling that is a male, which thou hast coming of a beast, shall be HaShem’s. 13 And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break its neck; and all the first-born of man among thy sons shalt thou redeem. 14 And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying: What is this? that thou shalt say unto him: By strength of hand HaShem brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 and it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go that HaShem slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the first-born of man, and the first-born of beast; therefore I sacrifice to HaShem all that openeth the womb, being males; but all the first-born of my sons I redeem. 16 And it shall be for a sign upon thy hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes; for by strength of hand HaShem brought us forth out of Egypt.’   -           JPS

 

Twice in the above Torah portion, the daily mitzva of tefillin are linked to the exodus from Egypt We see that the context for the statement regarding the placement of tefillin is within the context of the firstborn and within Pesach. We saw in our study of Pesach that whenever we see the word “firstborn” it is always within the context of Pesach.

 

The first words that HaShem spoke to the people after bringing them out of Egypt: Sanctify unto Me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast, it is Mine. As the firstborn was the representative of the people in the deliverance from Egypt, so the firstborn is to be their representative in separation unto HaShem. Exodus 13:1-10 is the first section that is put in the tefillin. The next section is Exodus 13:11-16, and these two passages center on the concept of belonging to HaShem: "You are Mine", "You are separated unto Me".

 

The Torah In The Tefillin

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:1-9

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:1-9 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which HaShem your G-d commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: 2 That thou mightest fear HaShem thy G-d, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as HaShem G-d of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: HaShem our G-d, HaShem is one. 5 And thou shalt love HaShem thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; 7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.

 

From the above passage we can see that tefillin are associated entering the land of Israel. Of course the whole point of Pesach was to redeem Israel from slavery and bring them to true freedom in their own land. Thus we see that tefillin are again associated with Pesach. This next passage also shows the Pesach connection through the land:

 

The Torah In The Tefillin

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:13-21

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:13-21 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love HaShem your G-d, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. 15 And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. 16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other G-ds, and worship them; 17 And then HaShem’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which HaShem giveth you. 18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: 21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which HaShem sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

 

Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach

 

The Torah reading for Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach includes Moshe's poignant plea for Divine revelation:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 33:18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

 

HaShem's response gives rise to a fascinating perspective. HaShem has instructed Moses to shield himself in the cleft of a rock as HaShem's Presence passes by:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

 

What could it mean to see "HaShem's back?" The Talmud provides a small explanation:

 

Berachoth 7a And I will take away My hand, and thou shalt see My back. R. Hama b. Bizana said in the name of R. Simon the Pious: This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed Moses the knot of the tefillin.

 

Thus, on Chol HaMoed Pesach, we contemplate the mitzva of tefillin and its relevance to the exodus from Egypt. This connection is explicitly stated in the Torah:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 13:16 And it shall be for a sign upon thine hand, and for tefillin between thine eyes: for by strength of hand HaShem brought us forth out of Egypt.

 

As we reflect upon this association between tefillin and our salvation from Egypt, perhaps we are struck by this paradoxical symbol for our liberation from bondage. For the tefillin are a sign of bondage! We bind ourselves with black leather straps around our arms and heads. One who wears tefillin is said to have truly accepted upon himself the "yoke of the Kingship of Heaven":

 

Berachoth 15a R. Johanan also said: If one desires to accept upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven in the most complete manner, he should consult nature and wash his hands and put on tefillin and recite the Shema’ and say the tefillah: this is the complete acknowledgment of the kingdom of heaven.

 

In other words, we submit ourselves to HaShem's dominion through the binding of tefillin.

 

This is the great paradox of Pesach. HaShem has freed us from service to Pharaoh so that we may devote ourselves to HaShem’s service. In fact, the Hebrew word for slavery, Avodah, is the same exact word we translate as worship. Thus we have a single Hebrew word which means slavery and its opposite, freedom. Avodah literally means “service”. The laws for the recitation of the Shema note the important difference between these two types of service. According to the Talmud Yerushalami, we know that a slave is exempt from reciting the Shema, because the Shema states, "The Lord is One". This refers to one who has no other lord than the Holy One. This excludes the slave who has more than one master[8]. Thus, every time we recite the Shema, which includes the mitzva of tefillin, we are proclaiming our great freedom: HaShem alone is our Master.

 

VIII.  The Purim Connection[9]

 

The Jews had light, gladness, joy, and honor. (Esther 8:16)

 

Chazal, when analyzing this posuk (verse), derive that the word "honor" refers to tefillin. The simple interpretation is that during the period of persecution that preceded the miracle of Purim the Jewish people were unable to publicly wear tefillin. However, in the aftermath of the miracle of Purim, there was a renewed commitment to the performance of this mitzva (commandment). Let us suggest a homiletic relationship between tefillin and Purim.

 

Chazal have instructed us to fulfill four mitzvot on Purim. They are:

 

PURIM

TEFILLIN

Reading the megillah

Devarim 6:4-9

Sending food presents to our friends

Devarim 11:13-21

Distributing gifts to the poor

Shemot 13:1:10

Eating a Purim meal

Shemot 13:11-16

 

We may suggest that the four mitzvot of Purim correspond to the four parshiot the tefillin.

 

The first mitzva is the reading of the megillah. This corresponds to the first parshah of tefillin. The first parsha of tefillin is the first parshah of shema that we recite twice daily. In this parsha, we accept upon ourselves the yoke of heaven. Our acceptance of the yoke of heaven includes an awareness that HaShem has created this world and continues to guide and govern every detail of its existence without interfering with our free will. By reading the megillah we similarly express our recognition that it was HaShem who brought about the details of the Purim miracle in a hidden and miraculous way.

 

The second mitzva is the obligation to send food gift packages to our friends. This corresponds to the second parsha of tefillin. The second parsha of tefillin is the second parsha of Shema that we recite daily. The major theme of this parsha is the reward that HaShem bestows upon us for fulfilling His commandments. The rewards are described as gifts of material blessing, which can be further used to serve HaShem. On Purim we similarly send gifts to our friends so that they can use them to enjoy the holiday and incorporate them in the mitzva of the Purim meal.

 

The third mitzva is the obligation to distribute gifts to the poor. This corresponds to the third parsha of the tefillin. The third parsha of tefillin focuses on the commandment to eat matza on Pesach. Chazal teach us that matza is the bread of a poor man. We eat matza on Pesach to remember that we were spiritually and physically poor in Egypt. HaShem in His kindness lifted us from our poverty by redeeming us from Egypt and giving us the Torah. Similarly, on Purim we emulate HaShem and also distribute gifts to the poor.

 

The fourth mitzva is the Purim meal. This corresponds to the fourth parsha of the tefillin. The fourth parsha of tefillin focuses on the mitzva of redeeming the firstborn son. It is noteworthy the there are major similarities between this mitzva and the miracle of Purim. Just as the firstborn boy is redeemed so too we were redeemed from death on Purim. Just as shekalim are used to redeem the firstborn, likewise the shekalim of Haman and the mitzva of machtzis hashekel that preceded them played an important role in the Purim miracle.

 

We can further elaborate the connection between the fourth parsha of the tefillin and the festive meal of Purim. Chazal ascribe unusual importance and significance to the meal that accompanies the mitzva of redeeming the firstborn. An early source for this meal is the Gemara[10]. The commentators explain the spiritual power of participating in such a meal can have an effect that is equivalent to fasting for eight-four days. Some explain that it is for this reason that garlic is customarily distributed to the guests at this meal. Garlic has the characteristic that even a small amount can give taste to a large pot of food. One can preserve the holiness of this meal by saving a small amount of garlic. The garlic can be used to flavor an ordinary meal with the holiness of the redemption of the firstborn. An in-depth explanation of the significance and importance of this meal and especially the meaning of "eighty-four fasts" is beyond the scope of this devar Torah, however it is evident that chazal did attribute extra special significance to the meal that accompanies the redemption of the firstborn. On Purim we are similarly obligated to enjoy a lavish meal to commemorate the Purim miracle where the Jewish people who are called the firstborn child of HaShem (Shemot 4:22) were redeemed from evil.

 

It is noteworthy that the parshiot of the tefillin contain numerous mentions of HaShem's name. The parshiot are written with great care, precision and holiness. They are tightly rolled and covered with a piece of parchment. They are then inserted in a small compartment, which is stitched and sealed shut. It is also noteworthy that color of tefillin is black. The combination of the double enclosure of the parshiot and darkness that envelop them is symbolic of the posuk "I shall surely hide my face of that day" (Devarim 31:18).

 

Chazal teach us that this posuk was fulfilled in the time of Purim. This occurred when Haman and Achashvayrosh decreed that every Jew be executed and the Jewish nation be totally annihilated (Esther 3:13). The Jewish people were stunned. They asked, "Where is HaShem? How can He allow this to happen?" It appeared as if HaShem was hiding his face on that day. When the miracle of Purim occurred it was as if the mask of HaShem had been lifted. The intensity of revelation matched the depth of concealment. Indeed, the commentators explain the word megillah comes from the word "giluy", which means reveal. The reading of the megilla reveals the concealment of HaShem.

 

The parshiot of the tefillin all year round remain wrapped and sealed in darkness. Few have seen even what their own parshiot look like. This is symbolic of how HaShem's ways are hidden from us. However, Purim is the day when the parshiot of the tefillin are revealed in a magnificent way. The major themes of what the four parshiot represent are transformed into the commandments of the day, which are observed in public with great joy and excitement.

 

The Jews had light, gladness, joy, and Tefillin.

 

IX. Betrothal

 

How are tefillin like a wedding ring, expressing mutual commitment between two parties?

 

When two people get married, they "seal" their commitment with a sign the wedding ring. By laying tefillin each day, we bind ourselves anew to HaShem. In fact in the tefillah that one recites when laying tefillin, one says: “I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness, justice, kindness, and mercy. I will betroth you to Me with fidelity and you shall know HaShem[11].

 

When is this said? While wrapping the strap of the tefillin shel yad (arm tefillin) around the middle finger three times. One lays tefillin shel yad and wraps the strap around one's fingers the way a chassan, a groom, would put the betrothal ring on his kallah's, the bride’s, finger.

 

When a Jew dons his tefillin each morning, he is putting on a wedding ring:

 

Hosea 2:21-22 "I shall betroth you to Me forever; I shall betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in loving kindness and compassion; I shall betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you shall know HaShem."

 

This experience represents our placing the wedding ring of HaShem on our finger, portraying our perfect relationship with Him. But Chazal inform us that HaShem also wears tefillin. In proof of this they cite a passage which states:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 62:8-9 HaShem hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured: 9 But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise HaShem; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness.

 

Chazal explain that the words, "the strength of His arm" refer to the tefillin worn on the left arm. The Maharsha expounds upon this concept and explains that HaShem actually binds Himself to the Jewish people. HaShem’s tefillin, like ours, represent devotion and commitment, His commitment to His beloved people. HaShem cherishes His relationship with us and as an expression of His commitment to us, He also wears a betrothal band. Eventually our boundless love for HaShem will find its expression together with HaShem’s boundless love for us and together we will enjoy this indescribable relationship forever and forever.

 

The Windings Around The Finger

 

The windings around the finger are mentioned in the Gemara.[12] There are several minhagim regarding the method of winding, with the accepted one being to wind the strap once around the middle segment of the finger, then twice around the bottom one (that which is closest to the palm).

 

What is the meaning of the three coils on the middle finger? One of the things symbolized by tefillin is the devotion and affection between HaShem and Israel, which are frequently spoken of in terms of betrothal. Hence the coils around the finger are symbolic of the wedding ring, and one of the explanations of the triple coil is the triple reference to the betrothal between HaShem and Israel in Hosea 2:21-22. In fact, it is customary in many Jewish communities to quote this Scriptural text as one winds the straps around the finger, after having put on the head tefillin.

 

HaShem’s Tefillin

 

Berachoth 6a R. Abin son of R. Ada in the name of R. Isaac says [further]: How do you know that the Holy One, blessed be He, puts on tefillin? For it is said: The Lord hath sworn by His right hand, and by the arm of His strength. ‘By His right hand’: this is the Torah; for it is said: At His right hand was a fiery law unto them. ‘And by the arm of his strength’: this is the tefillin; as it is said: The Lord will give strength unto His people. And how do you know that the tefillin are a strength to Israel? For it is written: And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon thee, and they shall be afraid of thee, and it has been taught: R. Eliezer the Great says: This refers to the tefillin of the head.

 

R. Nahman b. Isaac said to R. Hiyya b. Abin: What is written in the tefillin of the Lord of the Universe? — He replied to him: And who is like Thy people Israel, a nation one in the earth. Does, then, the Holy One, blessed be He, sing the praises of Israel? — Yes, for it is written: Thou hast avouched the Lord this day . . . and the Lord hath avouched thee this day. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: You have made me a unique entity in the world, and I shall make you a unique entity in the world. ‘You have made me a unique entity in the world’, as it is said: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is one. ‘And I shall make you a unique entity in the world’, as it is said: And who is like Thy people Israel, a nation one in the earth. R. Aha b. Raba said to R. Ashi: This accounts for one case, what about the other cases? — He replied to him: [They contain the following verses]: For what great nation is there, etc.; And what great nation is there, etc.; Happy art thou, O Israel, etc.; Or hath G-d assayed, etc.; and To make thee high above all nations. If so, there would be too many cases? — Hence [you must say]: For what great nation is there, and what great nation is there, which are similar, are in one case; Happy art thou, O Israel, and Who is like Thy people, in one case; Or hath G-d assayed, in one case; and To make thee high, in one case.

 

Finally, keep in mind that the betrothal is not the end of this process. The goal of betrothal is marriage, which comes at Yom HaKippurim.

 

X. Nazarean Connections

 

Luqas (Luke) is written at the remez level. It is all hints without anything literal. Lets see if there is perhaps a hint to the tefillin. Yeshua spoke the following story:

 

Luqas (Luke) 15:11-32 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

 

Here we have a son who quits being lawless and returns to his father’s house and his father’s ways. As a token of his return he is given a talit (robe) to wear and tefillin (ring) on his hand. As long as he was lawless, he was DEAD. Once he returned to the laws of his Father, he was made alive. Isn’t this exactly what the Torah teaches?

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 30:19-20 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love HaShem thy G-d, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which HaShem sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

 

YYY

 

In the Midrash Tehilim[13] it is written:

 

Rabbi Eliezer declared: ''Israel told the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Master of the world, we want to labor in the study of Torah during the day and at night, but we don't have the opportunity.' ''The Holy One, blessed be He, replied: 'Fulfill the mitzva of tefillin, and I will consider it as if you had labored in Torah study during the day and at night.'"

 

XI. Miscellaneous Thoughts

 

From the Sefer HaBahir:

152. You said [that the sixth one was] His Throne. Have we then not said that it is the Crown of the Blessed Holy One? We have said, “Israel was crowned with three crowns, the crown of priesthood, the crown of royalty, and the crown of Torah above them all.” What is this like? A king has a pleasing, beautiful vessel and he was very fond of it. Sometimes he placed it on his head – this is the Tefillin worn on the head. At other times he carried it on his arm – in the knot of the Tefillin worn on the arm. Sometimes he lend it to his son so that it should remain with him. Sometimes it is called His Throne. This is because He carries it as an amulet on His arm, just like a throne.

 

Bamidbar 2:2: "Yachanu bnei Israel" - The Baal Tikkun Tefillin, Rabbi Avraham of Zuns'heim, a Rishon, says that the configuration of the tefillin shel rosh corresponds to the encampment of Bnei Israel in the desert. There are a total of twelve stitches closing the tefillin, three on each side of the central cube. This corresponds to the twelve tribes encamped in the desert, three on each side of the central area. In the center, we have the cube that houses the script, the parashiyot, of the tefillin. The cube corresponds to the ark and the script to the luchot which were inside. The ark had on its lid the two Keruvim whose wings were spread aloft. The Keruvim with their wings spread aloft, loosely had a configuration similar to the letter shin. The luchot upon which the ten commandments were etched had as their first word, "anochi." Here again we have a striking similarity. The cube of the tefillin which houses the script of four paragraphs of the Torah which mention the mitzva of tefillin, has two letters shin on the outside, similar to the ark and the two Keruvim. Rabbi Avraham adds that these last two similarities are alluded to in the verse in Tehilim 119:162, Soss anochi. Soss is spelled Sin, Sin. These are the two Keruvim and also the two Shins on the tefillin housing. The letters Sin and Sin, symbolizing the two Keruvim, are over the Ten Commandments, which begin with anochi.

 

The Shin with three heads  and the Shin with four heads

 

Tefillin embody the entire Torah. According to the verse, Tefillin enable "the Torah of HaShem to be in your mouth." The two different shins represent the two ways the Torah was written: In stone and upon parchment.

 

HaShem told Moses to write a Torah scroll using ink and parchment. This Torah was written as we write it today, with the normal three-pronged shin .

 

The shin with four prongs  is connected physically and spiritually to the shin with three prongs . Rabbi Bachya in his comment on Shemot 32:16 says:

 

 “G-d engraved rather than etched the letters on the two tablets because G-d wanted them to be read from both sides. Thus the two sides allude to the revealed and concealed dimensions of Torah.”

 

The letter shin  represents the revealed Torah and the shin with four prongs  represents the concealed Torah. The concealed and the revealed are alluded to in The Song of Songs. In verse 2:9, the author refers to the hidden ways of HaShem by describing HaShem as, "looking through the lattices". HaShem sees us, but we cannot see HaShem. Just as the shin with four prongs is seen by connecting it with that which it outlines; so too is HaShem hidden from us and know to us only through the outline of creation and revelation. By the way, this is the only instance of a four-pronged shin  other than on our tefillin.

 

This teaches us that if we learn Torah (the three-pronged shin of the scroll written by Moses), HaShem will give us the gift of understanding (the unique four-pronged shin  of the luchot, which were given as a gift to the Bnei Israel.

 

 

ASKING AND EXPOUNDING

A Series of Halachot According to the Order of the Shulhan Aruch, Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a

 

by Rav David Yosef shlit"a, Rosh Bet Midrash Yehaveh Da'at

 

When to Remove One's Tefillin

 

The prevalent custom is to wear tefillin only during shacharit. The tefillin should not be removed until after the "kedushah" in "u'va lessiyon."

 

Some, however, maintain according to Kabbalah that tefillin should not be removed until after the first mourner's kaddish after the "kaddish titkabal," in order to ensure that the individual says with his tefillin four "kaddishim" (the half-kaddish before birchat keri'at shema; the half-kaddish after the chazzan’s repetition of the Shemoneh Esre; "kaddish titkabal"; and the first mourner's kaddish) and three "kedushot" (in the beginning of birchat keri'at shema; during the repetition of the Shemoneh Esre; and in u'va lessiyon).

 

Others, however maintain that according to the Kabbalistic tradition one must recite with tefillin three "kaddishim" and four "kedushot." (The fourth "kedushah" is "borchu" before birchot keri'at shema, which also constitutes a "kedushah.") According to this view, one may remove his tefillin after "kaddish titkabal."

 

The Ar"i zs"l was accustomed not to take off his tefillin until the completion of "v'al kein," the second paragraph of "aleinu," and this is the preferable practice.

 

Furthermore, it is proper for everyone to study Torah with his tefillin on after tefillah. If, however, one fears that he will be unable to maintain the necessary bodily cleanliness throughout the entire tefillah, he may remove his tefillin earlier.

 

Those accustomed to remove their tefillin after the kedushah of u'va lessiyon should not do so on days when the Torah is read. Rather, they should wait until after the Torah is returned to the ark, as alluded to in the pasuk, "Their King passed before them [referring to the Sefer Torah] and HaShem was at their head [referring to tefillin]" (Micah 2:13).

 

This, however, applies only to those communities where the custom is to return the Torah to the ark after u'va lessiyon. Where the custom is to return the Torah before u'va lessiyon, one should not remove his tefillin until after reciting the kedushah of u'va lessiyon. (Similarly, in places where the Torah is returned before the recitation of "kaddish titkabal," one should not remove his tefillin until after "kaddish titkabal.")

 

If one needs to remove his tefillin while the Sefer Torah is out, he must be careful not to remove his tefillin shel rosh in the presence of the Sefer Torah so as not to uncover his head in the presence of the Torah. Rather, he should move to the side and take off his tefillin shel rosh there.

 

If, however, one's head generally does not become uncovered while taking off his tefillin, such as if his head remains covered by the talit, or while removing the tefillin shel yad, there is no need for concern in this regard.

 

Furthermore, if the Sefer Torah is placed in an enclosed case, one may remove his tefillin shel rosh in the presence of the Torah.

 

It is proper to be careful not to remove one's tefillin during the recitation of kaddish so as not to divert his attention from the response of "amen yehei shemeih rabbah." while removing his tefillin.

 

Two Positive Commandments

 

Rambam indicates that we fulfill two positive commandments by laying tefillin:

 

12 To bind tefillin on the head, as it is written "and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes" (Devarim 6:8).

13 To bind tefillin on the arm, as it is written "and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand" (Devarim 6:8).

 

The Order

 

What does the donning of talit and tefillin during shacharit prayers have to do with:

 

Bereshit 14:23 "If so much as a thread to a shoestrap; or if I shall take anything of yours."

 

The Gemara says that because Avram refused to take from the King of Sodom even a thread or a shoestrap, his children (the Jewish people) merited to receive two mitzvot from HaShem: the mitzva of putting a thread of techeilet in the tzitzith and the mitzva of putting straps in the tefillin.

 

Sotah 17a Raba expounded: As a reward for our father Abraham having said: I will not take a thread nor a shoelatchet, his descendants were worthy to receive two commandments, viz., the thread of blue and the thong of the phylacteries. It is right in the case of the thong of the phylacteries, for it is written: And all the peoples of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord.

 

According to the Gemara Avraham originated the concept of praying to HaShem each morning. (shacharit):

 

Berachoth 26b It has been stated: R. Jose son of R. Hanina said: The Tefillahs were instituted by the Patriarchs. R. Joshua b. Levi says: The Tefillahs were instituted to replace the daily sacrifices. It has been taught in accordance with R. Jose b. Hanina, and it has been taught in accordance with R. Joshua b. Levi. It has been taught in accordance with R. Jose b. Hanina: Abraham instituted the morning Tefillah, as it says, And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood, and ‘standing’ means only prayer, as it says, Then stood up Phineas and prayed.

 

Therefore, during Avraham’s tefillah (prayer) we wear the talit and tefillin.

 

When Avram spoke to the King of Sodom, he first mentioned the thread and afterwards the shoestrap; thus, we first don the talit, which has in it the thread of techeilet, and afterwards the tefillin, which have the leather straps.

 

The Rules

 

Menachoth 34a OF THE FOUR PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE IN THE TEFILLIN, THE [ABSENCE OF] ONE INVALIDATES THE OTHERS; INDEED EVEN ONE [IMPERFECT] LETTER CAN INVALIDATE THE WHOLE. Is not this obvious? — Rab Judah answered in the name of Rab, The law had to be taught in respect of the tittle of the letter yod. And is not this, too, obvious? — It was necessary to be taught in respect of the other statement of Rab Judah; for Rab Judah said in the name of Rab, Any letter that is not surrounded on all four sides by a margin of parchment is invalid. Our Rabbis taught: It is written, Letotefeth, letotefeth, and letotafoth, making four in all. So R. Ishmael. R. Akiba says, There is no need of that interpretation, for ‘tot’ means two in Katpi and ‘foth’ means two in Afriki.

 

Our Rabbis taught: I might have said that one should write [the Scriptural portions] upon four pieces of parchment and put them in four compartments made out of four pieces of leather; the verse therefore says, And for a memorial between thine eyes: one memorial I commanded you, but not two or three memorials. How then should one do? One should write them upon four pieces of parchment and put them in four compartments made out of one piece of leather. If, however, one wrote them upon one parchment and put them in the four compartments, that is sufficient. There must be a blank space between each [portion]. So Rabbi; but the Sages say, This is not necessary. They agree, however, that between each there must be a line or a thread. And if the divisions [between the compartments] were not noticeable, they are invalid.

 

Our Rabbis taught: How must one write them? The portions for the hand-tefillah one should write upon one piece of parchment; if one wrote them upon four pieces of parchment and put them in one compartment that is still valid. They must, however, be fastened together, for it is written, And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thy hand and as outside it is one sign, so inside, too, it must be one sign. This is the opinion of R. Judah. But R. Jose says, This is not necessary. Moreover, said R. Jose, R. Judah Berabbi concedes to me that if a man has no hand-tefillah but has two head-tefillahs, he may cover up one of them with a skin and place it [on his arm]. ‘Concede’, [you say,] but that is the very issue between them! — Raba answered, R. Jose's statement proves that R. Judah withdrew his opinion. Surely this cannot be, for R. Haninah sent [from Palestine] the following ruling in the name of R. Johanan: The hand-tefillah may be converted for use on the head but the head-tefillah may not be converted for use on the arm, for one may not bring down what is of a higher sanctity to a lower sanctity! — This is no difficulty, for one [ruling] refers to an old one and the other to a new one. And according to him who maintains that the mere designation [of a thing for a certain purpose] has a certain force, [we must say that the owner] had made a reservation with regard to it from the very outset.

 

Our Rabbis taught: What is the order [of the four Scriptural portions in the head-tefillah]? ‘Sanctify unto Me’ and ‘And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee’ are on the right, while ‘Hear’ and ‘And it shall come to pass if ye shall hearken diligently’ are on the left. But there has been taught just the reverse? — Abaye said, This is no contradiction, for in the one case the reference is to the right of the reader, whereas in the other it is to the right of the one that wears them; the reader thus reads them according to their order.

 

R. Hananel said in the name of Rab, If a man reversed the order of the Scriptural portions, it is invalid. Abaye said, This is so only [if he put] a portion that should be inside outside or what should be outside inside, but if he put what should be inside also inside or what should be outside also outside, it does not matter. Thereupon Raba said to him, Why is it that [the placing of] an inside portion outside or of an outside portion inside is not valid? It is, is it not, because that which should look out into the open does not do so, whilst that which should not look out into the open actually does so? Then, likewise, [the placing of] an outside portion also outside or an inside portion also inside [should also be invalid], since what should look out into the open on the right looks out on the left, and what should look out into the open on the left looks out on the right? We must rather say that there Is no such distinction.

 

R. Hananel also said in the name of Rab, The underside of the tefillin is a law given to Moses at Sinai. Abaye said, The duct of the tefillin is also a law given to Moses at Sinai.

 

Abaye also said, The shin of the tefillin is a law given to Moses at Sinai. The division [between the compartments] must reach as far as the stitches. But R. Dimi of Nehardea said, As long as it is noticeable it need not [reach as far as the stitches].

 

Abaye also said, The parchment [for the Scriptural portions] of the tefillin must be examined against a flaw, since we require the writing to be perfect and it would not be so [if it had a flaw]. But R. Dimi of Nehardea said, This is not necessary, for the pen would detect [any flaw].

 

R. Isaac said, That the straps [of the tefillin] must be black is a law given to Moses at Sinai. An objection was raised: The tefillin must be tied with straps of the same [material as the tefillin themselves.] The straps may be either green or black or white; but they should not be red because it is repellent, and also for another reason. R. Judah said, It is related of one of R. Akiba's disciples that he used to tie his tefillin with strips of blue wool, and R. Akiba made no comment. But is it possible that that righteous man actually saw his disciple do so and he did not prevent him? They said to him, He certainly did not see him do so, for had he seen him he would not have allowed him. It is related further of Hyrkanos the son of R. Eliezer b. Hyrkanos that he used to tie his tefillin with strips of purple wool, and he [R. Eliezer] made no comment. But is it possible that that righteous man actually saw his son do so and he did not prevent him? They said to him, He certainly did not see him do so, for had he seen him he would not have allowed him. Now it is stated here, at all events, [that the straps may be] either green or black or white! — This is no contradiction, for here it speaks of the outside of the strap and there of the inside. But if of the inside, how can it be repellent or give any ground for suspicion? — It might sometimes become twisted.

 

A Tanna taught: That the tefillin must be square is a law given to Moses at Sinai. R. Papa said, [This refers to] the stitching and the diagonal. Shall we say that the following [Mishna] supports this view? For we have learnt: If a man made his tefillin round, it is a danger and it is no fulfillment of the precept! — R. papa said, That [Mishna] deals with the case where they were made round like a nut.

 

R. Huna said, As long as the surface of the sides of the tefillin is whole they are valid. R. Hisda said, If two [sides] were split they are still valid; but if three, they are invalid. Said to him Raba, Your ruling that if two [sides] were split they are still valid is true only if [the rents were] not facing each other, but if they were facing each other they are invalid. And even if they were facing each other [they are invalid] only if they were new [tefillin], but if they were old it would not matter. Abaye asked R. Joseph, What is meant by new, and what by old? He replied, If when one stretches the leather it rebounds, it is old; otherwise it is new. Or else, if when one holds up the strap, [the box] hangs on to it, it is new; otherwise it is old.

 

Chanukah

 

It is known that the seven commandments which the Hakhamim instituted, one of which is the command of the Chanukah lights, derive ultimately from commandments to be found in the Torah[14]. So there must be amongst the Torah commandments one which is an analogue of the lights of Chanukah, one which brings the Divine light into the left-hand side and the public domain. And this is the mitzva of tefillin. For the hand-tefillin are worn on the left arm (the weaker arm, i.e. the left if the person is right-handed), and the reason is, as explained in the Zohar[15], the that evil inclination (the left side of the heart; the voice of emotional dissent to HaShem’s will) should itself be bound into the service of HaShem. And the head-tefillin must be worn uncovered and exposed so that:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 28:9-10 HaShem shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of HaShem thy God, and walk in his ways. 10  And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of HaShem; and they shall be afraid of thee.

 

Berachoth 6a R. Abin son of R. Ada in the name of R. Isaac says [further]: How do you know that the Holy One, blessed be He, puts on tefillin? For it is said: The Lord hath sworn by His right hand, and by the arm of His strength. ‘By His right hand’: this is the Torah; for it is said: At His right hand was a fiery law unto them. ‘And by the arm of his strength’: this is the tefillin; as it is said: The Lord will give strength unto His people. And how do you know that the tefillin are a strength to Israel? For it is written: And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon thee, and they shall be afraid of thee, and it has been taught: R. Eliezer the Great says: This refers to the tefillin of the head.

 

Its purpose, then, is to reveal G-dliness to all the people of the earth and to cause them to be in awe. So it is, that the tefillin, like the Chanukah lights, are directed to the left-hand side and the public domain, towards that which lies outside the recognition of HaShem.

 

In the light of this we can understand the Rabbinic saying that the whole Torah is compared to the commandment of tefillin:

 

Midrash Tehillim 1:2 "Fulfill the Mitzvah of tefillin and I will count it as if you had toiled in Torah by day and by night.

 

Kiddushin 35a  Now, that is well on the view that two verses with the same teaching do not illumine [others]: but on the view that they do, what can be said? — Said Raba, The Papunians know the reason of this thing, and who is it? R. Aha b. Jacob. Scripture saith, And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Torah of the Lord may be in thy mouth: hence the whole Torah is compared to tefillin: just as tefillin are an affirmative command limited to time, and women are exempt, so are they exempt from all positive commands limited to time. And since women are exempt from affirmative precepts limited to time, it follows that they are subject to those not limited to time. Now, that is well on the view that tefillin are a positive command limited to time; but what can be said on the view that they are not? — Whom do you know to maintain that phylacteries are an affirmative precept not limited to time? R. Meir. But he holds that there are two verses with the same teaching, and such do not illumine [others]. But according to R. Judah, who maintains that two verses with the same teaching illumine [others], and [also] that tefillin are a positive command limited to time, what can be said? — Because unleavened bread, rejoicing [on Festivals], and ‘assembling’ are three verses with the same teaching, and such do not illumine [others].

 

The tefillin have, like Torah, the power to effect a purification even in the real of the profane.

 

On Chanukah one has to give an extra amount of charity[16], both in money and in person[17] both material and spiritual charity.

 

The miracle of Chanukah is apparent not only in the fact that For Your people Israel You worked a great deliverance and redemption as at this day,[18] a deliverance from a people who were impure, wicked and arrogant, and despite their being strong and many; but also in the result that afterwards Your children came into Your most holy house, cleansed Your Temple, purified Your Sanctuary, and kindled lights in Your holy courtyards.

 

And so it is with tefillin. By the observance of this mitzvah, not only is a deliverance and redemption achieved from all the people of the earth; for since they will be afraid of you they will no longer stand in opposition to Israel, but will be as if our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any man because of you[19]. But also, and as a consequence of the mitzvah, Your children (will come) into Your most holy house, into the Temple which will be revealed speedily on earth, as a sign of the Messianic Age.

 

XII. The Mitzvah

 

23

If you wear a Talit, it is put on before the Tefillin is put on. Tefillin is usually put on just before the morning prayer. If possible you should say the Shema with the Tefillin on. Tefillin are not worn at night, on the Sabbath, or on the festivals.

 

It is customary to stand while putting on Tefillin. The Tefillin are put on the arm first. A right handed person puts them on the left arm, and a left handed person puts them on the right arm. The Tefillin is placed in the exact center of the biceps muscle. Before tightening the strap, you should say:

I am now about to fulfill HaShem’s commandment to put on Tefillin.

 

Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam, asher kidishanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu le-haniach tefillin

 

Blessed are You HaShem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us by His commandments and instructed us to put on Tefillin.

 

The strap is then tightened by pulling it towards the body. The strap is wrapped seven times around the forearm. The black side of the strap must always be on the outside.

 

 

[The tefillin consist of two parts, one placed on the left arm facing the heart, the other on the head, the seat of intellect. One of the basic teachings implied in this is that the head should rule the heart. The heart is considered the seat of emotions-attributes, which are generally divided into seven branches. Of the seven, the following three, namely: chesed (kindness), Gevurah (might-severity), and Tiferet (beauty) are the basic ones, and the other four, Netzach (endurance), Hod (splendor), Yesod (foundation), Malchut (sovereignty) are secondary and offshoots of the first three. Hence, the seven coils on the forearm are symbolic of these seven emotions, which should be controlled by the intellect.]

 

Now, wrap the strap once or twice around the palm of the hand, so that it can be held. Now put on the head Tefillin:

 

The head tefillin should be centered in the middle of the head and worn just above the hairline. It is important that no part of the box protrude below the hairline. If the hairline has receded, then the Tefillin should be worn just above the point of the original hairline.

 

The knot of the head Tefillin must be centered at the base of the skull, just above the hairline in back of the head. The straps are then allowed to hang in front. Here again, it is most important that the straps be worn with the black side out This is especially true on the head itself.

 

[The two straps that hang down from the head tefillin symbolize the flow of influence from the head to the rest of the body, on the right and left side. Hence, the two straps are a continuation of the strap that surrounds the head, and that begin to branch off from the special knot at the back of the head, which is the meeting place of the cerebrum and cerebellum, which is also the beginning of the spine.

 

All this is to indicate that, just as physically, the brain is the most vital nerve center that vitalizes and controls the entire body, so, spiritually, the intellect is to vitalize and guide the entire life of the Jew, and the body with all its limbs and organs must be functionaries to carry out the Divine commandments and precepts in daily life.]

 

 

Very long hair may make it difficult to wear the head Tefillin correctly. For this reason, some religious Jews wear their hair short.

 

Then tighten the straps and say:

 

Baruch shem kvod Malchuto le-olam va-ed

Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom forever

 

You are now ready to complete the windings of the hand tefillin:

 

Wind the strap around your hand, passing it between your thumb and forefinger. Then wind it around the middle joint on the middle finger, and then twice around the lower joint.

 

[One of the things symbolized by tefillin is the devotion and affection between HaShem and Israel, which are frequently spoken of in terms of betrothal. Hence the coils around the finger are symbolic of the wedding ring, and one of the explanations of the triple coil is the triple reference to the betrothal between HaShem and Israel in Hosea 2:21-22. In fact, it is customary in many Jewish communities to quote this Scriptural text as one winds the straps around the finger, after having put on the head tefillin.]

 

As you do this, say:

 

I will wed You to me forever.

I will wed You to me with right and justice, with love and mercy.

I will wed You to me with faith … and you shall know G-d.

 

* * *

 

This study was written by Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Greg Killian

1101 Surrey Trace SE

Tumwater, WA 98501

 

Internet address:  gkilli@aol.com

Web page:  http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 584-9352

 

Return to The WATCHMAN home page

Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 

 

 


 



[1] I learned this lesson from my beloved teacher, Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai.

[2] Devarim 28:10

[3] “Mitzva” has a nuance beyond “commandment” - its root also means connection or bond (tzavta means bond). A commandment bonds the one who commands with the one who obeys. If you can hear My command even when it sounds totally unnatural, even when the cost will be the life of your son, you will be lifted out of the natural into another realm. The order of the natural world will cease to bind you; you will create a new order entirely.

[4] One interpretation suggests that the prongs represent the three patriarchs and four matriarchs of the Torah. According to Gematria the shin equals 300. There is an opinion that this is representative of the 300 days of the year out of 354 that the tefillin is worn. The four-pronged shin  links the tefillin to the Ten Commandments, where this version of the letter was first used.

[5] Halley's and Unger's Bible Handbooks make this identification.

[6] Tefillin (תפילין) also called phylacteries - from Ancient Greek meaning “to guard, protect”

[7] Tractate Eruvin 96a

[8] PT Berachoth 25a

[9]Adapted from an article in Jewish America: http://www.jewishamerica.com/ja/content/hadrash/hadrash_vehaiyun_Shemos.cfm

 

[10] Bava Kama 80a

[11] Hosea 2:21-22

[12] Menachoth 35a

[13] Tehilim 1:2.

[14] Tanya, Part IV, 29

[15] Part III, 283a.

[16] Magen Avraham, in Shulchan Aruch, beg. Hilchot Chanukah.

[17] Peri Megadim, 4:2.

[18] V’al Hanissim prayer.

[19] Joshua 2:11