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Re Tefillin



Did I send my smart remark only to you?  I meant to send it to the whole
list, but my Send-file doesn't show that I did.

Anyway... tefillin are a set of two little black leather boxes attached to
black leather straps.  Made according to strict tradition - check the
First Jewish Catalog by Michael Strassfeld for details.)

Inside each box is a set of texts from the Bible which instruct Jews to
tie "these words" on your hand and as frontlets betwen your eyes (Exodus
13:1-10, 13:11-16, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21.) Part of this set of texts
is the Shema, which is also recited at every service and enclosed in the
mezuzah cases attached to the doorposts of Jewish homes (Deuteronomy 6:4-9
and 11:13-21);  mezuzah means doorpost, but I think tefillin is a Greek
form of the Hebrew totafot, and what it means is what it is, nothing else
as far as I know.

The mezuzah text is the one that tells you to love the lord your God with
all your heart and mind, and to bind these words on your hands as a sign,
and as a frontlet between your eyes, and on your doorposts and your gates.
The tefillin includes two other texts that also give the same general
instructions about binding the words to hand and between eyes.  Observant
Jews are rather literal about these things, so they do exactly that.

In the case of the tefillin, one little box is tied on the forehead
between the eyes, and the other is tied on the "weak"  hand (left if
you're right-handed, and vice versa) in a complicated arrangement which
traditionally is considered somewhat like a wedding ring, and then the
straps are wrapped around the arm in a long spiral.  It looks, frankly,
quite S&M (you can tell I'm heterodox!) and symbolizes binding oneself to
the Torah - both the text and the Law.  It's worn during the day, at the
times when the tallit is worn for praying (supposed to be when there's
enough light to *see* the tallit and the signs, etc. - the only night
observance where tallit is worn is the night which begins Yom Kippur.)

Guess that's all I know of the lore, but I suspect there's lots of
Talmudic extrapolation.

You might have seen them portrayed in some of those classic paintings of
European rabbis.

                     _________
|\        /|       /________/(
|? \    / ?|      (________(/(___
|??? \/ ???|    /_(________(/__/(
|   Judy   |   (______________(/(
|  Kerman  |   (Mayapple Press(/(
| Saginaw, |   (______________(/
 \ ? MI ? /
   \ ?? /       http://www.cris.com/~Jkerman
     \/

On Thu, 7 Nov 1996, Peter Verheyen wrote:

> Judith,
> Can you explain tefillin. I've seen them, I think, but don't understand
> their sybolism.
>
> Peter
>
> At 03:50 PM 11/6/96 -0500, you wrote:
> >
> >Now I can't let this pass, as I did the last time... Apologies to the
> >Orthodox Jews on the list, but did someone mention tefillin?  People of
> >the book in more ways than one...
> >
> >> >>>                    I love working in the library.                  <<<
> >> >>There is something to be said for working in a place bound in leather.<<
> >
>
>
> >>>                    I love working in the library.                  <<<
> >>There is something to be said for working in a place bound in leather.<<
>
> Peter D. Verheyen                                        <wk> 315.443.9937
> Conservation Librarian                                   <fax>315.443.9510
> Syracuse University Library                 <email>pdverhey@dreamscape.com
> Syracuse University                <www>http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey
> Syracuse, NY 13244                 <Listowner>Book_Arts-L@listserv.syr.edu
>
>
>


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