Hebraic Studies - How to lay Tefillin

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A Guide to Laying Tefillin & Morning Prayers

With Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham


Those who may not have laid Tefillin in the past, and now would like to do so, below are seven simple steps to guide you in fulfilling the Torah Mitzvot of the laying of the Tefillin. Usually prayers and blessings are said in Hebrew, however to make it simpler for those with little or no Hebrew, I have kept most of this guide in English, but all blessings are available in Hebrew or Transliterated and in English.

Please say the Hebrew (Transliterations) first followed by the English in order that you will understand what you are saying. Remember, when you feel like doing so, contact a Rabbi for further instructions. I have decided to keep this guide relatively short, but as you follow this guide, be assured that you will be fulfilling the Torah Mitzvot of “Laying of the Tefillin”. I pray that this guide will be both a blessing and of benefit to you! Blessed be HaShem (The LORD).

1… Tallit

Before donning the Tallit say:

Bless HaShem, O my soul; HaShem my Elohim (G-d), for You are great; You have robed Yourself with majesty and splendour; covered in light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a curtain.

Hold the Tallit over your head and recite the Barucha (blessing):


“Baruch  Ata  HaShem  Elo’hey’nu  Melech  Ha’Olam  Asher  Kid’shanu  Be’mitz’va’tav  Ve’tzi’va’nu  Le’hit’a’tef  Ba’tzi’zit.”

“Blessed are You, HaShem our Elohim, King of the Universe, who has Sanctified us by Your commandments, and have commanded us to enwrap ourselves in the fringed garment.”

2… Shel Yod - Part One

I have found that it is easiest to lay Tefillin by standing at a table, so that you can set your Tefillin bag in front of you. You are about to place the Shel Yod” (hand-Tefillin) on the left arm.

Remove your watch and rings, then, roll up your sleeves.

Continue standing for the duration whilst the Shel Yod” is placed on the part of the arm called in Hebrew the kibbores.” You can locate the kibbores by making a muscle on the left arm: where the arm bulges is the kibbores and it is there that we shall lay the Shel Yod” when the time comes.

Take the Shel Yod” (hand-Tefillin) out of the bag, making sure not to shake it out. Leave the “Shel Rosh” (head-Tefillin) still inside the bag at this stage. Completely unwind the straps and remove the cover. Note the shape of the Shel Yod,” it’s base is wider than the bayis - the cubic box, and the upper part of the base forms a slot through which the strap has been threaded.

It is proper to kiss the Tefillin before putting it on (this may be done by directly kissing it, or with the corner of your Tallith), as the Word of HaShem Elohim is sweet.

Hold the Shel Yod” in your right hand in such a way that the bayis is facing upwards, the slot (ma'abarta) is the end nearest your body and the knot should be on the side nearest your body. Pull the strap open and widen it to form a large loop.

Pass your left arm through the loop, being careful to maintain the bayis facing upwards, and the end with the slot facing the upper arm. Slip the Shel Yod” up the arm and rest it on the kibbores.” Adjust it until it is positioned in such a way that it faces inwards towards your body (opposite the heart).

Recite the Barucha:

“Baruch  Atah  HaShem  Eloheynu  Melech  Ha Olam  Asher  Kid’sha’nu Be’mitz’votav  Ve’tzi’va’nu  Le’ha’ni’ach  Tefillin.

“Blessed are You, HaShem, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us by His commandments, and Who commands us to lay Tefillin.

Immediately, pull the loop so that it closes tightly and locks the top of the Shel Yod” in place. The strap should be quite tight, so that it will not loosen during davening - but not to tight, of course, that it causes undue discomfort! It is most likely that until you acquire the expertise that comes with practice, when you close the loop the Shel Yod” will move out of place: put it back in place and tighten the loop again - and again and again until you manage to get it right!

Take the strap in your right hand near to the Shel Yod,” with the blackened side uppermost. Wind the strap underneath your arm and then over the top TOWARDS YOUR BODY - one twist above the elbow and seven twists, evenly spaced, between the elbow and the wrist. These twists should also be quite tight, so that they will not loosen whilst davening as you move your arm - but not so tight that they cause real discomfort. Wind the remainder of the strap around the palm of your hand so that it will not hinder you during the next stage.

3… Shel Rosh

Take the Shel Rosh (head-Tefillin) out of the bag, loosen the strap completely, and remove the cover.

Again, It is proper to kiss the Tefillin before putting it on.

You will note that there are differences between the Shel Rosh and the Shel Yod.” Firstly, the bayis of the Shel Rosh” is divided into four compartments, whereas the Hand-Tefillin is completely smooth. Secondly, the strap of the Shel Rosh” is knotted into a loop, which has two ends and not one.

Hold the strap of the Shel Rosh (head-Tefillin) with both hands in such a way, the loop is very wide and the two loose ends are hanging downwards, make sure the knotting is in the middle.

 Recite the Barucha:

“Baruch  Atah  HaShem  Eloheynu  Melech  Ha-olam  Asher  Kid’sha’nu  Be’mitz’vo’tav  Ve’tzi’va’nu  al  Mitz’vos  Tefillin.  Baruch  Shem  Ka’vot  Mal’chu’to  le’olam  va’ed.

“Blessed are You, HaShem, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us by Your commandments, and Who commands us concerning Tefillin. Blessed be your Holy Name forever.

Immediately after completing this blessing - with no interruption - lower the Shel Rosh onto your head. Arrange the Tefillin on your head as follows:

The double knot that makes the straps into a loop must be at the bottom of the nape of the neck: there is a natural indentation there. The Shel Rosh itself should be placed on the forehead in such a way that the lower edge of the Tefillin lies on the hairline, or at the place where the normal hairline would be.

Make sure (use your fingers or a small mirror, or both) that the blackened side of the strap faces outwards all around the head. Pull the two free ends of the strap over each shoulder and stretch them downward with a gentle tug, making sure that the blackened side is outward facing here as well.

4… Shel Yod – Part two

Making a “Sign” on the hand. Unwind the strap that you wound round the palm of your hand as far as the wrist. We are now going to make a “sign” – the Hebrew letters Shin, Dalet, and Yod, which make up the word Shaddai,” Almighty. Hold your left hand stretched out palm downward. (If the strap around your arm has become loose, you did not wind it tightly enough: do it again!) Bring the strap from the wrist underneath the hand (across the down-facing palm) as far as the second finger from the thumb. Wind the strap round this finger three times - once beneath the lower joint and twice above it, crossing over each other above the joint forming an X shape.

Now bring the strap under the palm of the hand and wind it over the third finger from the thumb, across the back of the hand to the angle formed where the thumb joins the hand. We have already created the letters Dalet and Yod on the palm and the finger – do not stop to check!

We are now going to create across the back of the hand the shape of the letter Shin, something like this: \|/. Bring the strap under the palm of the hand as far as where the back of the hand joins the wrist (on the side of the little finger) and then across the back of the hand to the angle formed where the thumb joins the hand.

Now bring the strap under the palm of the hand to the middle of the hand and over the centre of the back of the hand back to the angle formed where the thumb joins the hand. Check that you have now formed on the back of your hand the shape of the Hebrew letter “Shin” - something like this: \|/. If there is yet more strap “left over” wind it continuously and neatly along the central arm of the “Shin” until there is just enough left to tuck the end in firmly underneath, in the palm of the hand.

Recite the Barucha:

Ve’ey’ras’tich  li  Le-olam.  Ve’ey’ras’tich  li  Be’tze’dek  Uv’mish’pat  Uve’che’sed  Uv’ra’cha’mim.  Ve-ey’ras’tich  li  Be’e’mu’nah,  Ve’ya’dat  es HaShem.

“I shall betroth you to Me for ever; I shall betroth you to Me in equity, in justice, in love and in tenderness; I shall betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know HaShem.”

5… Short Shacharis & “Shema”


(Morning blessings and Torah readings)

Blessed are You HaShem, our Elohim, King of the Universe, Who fashioned man with wisdom and created within him many openings and many cavities. It is obvious and known before Your Throne of Glory that if but one of them be ruptured or blocked, it would be impossible to survive and stand before You. Blessed are You HaShem, Who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.

Blessed are You, HaShem, our Elohim, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to engross ourselves with the words of Your Torah. Please, HaShem our Elohim, sweeten the words of Your Torah in our mouth and in the mouth of Your people, the family of Israel. May we and our offspring and the offspring of Your people, the House of Israel, all of us, know Your name and study Your Torah for its own sake. Blessed are You, HaShem, Who teaches Torah to His people Israel.

May HaShem bless you and safeguard you. May HaShem illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you. May HaShem turn his countenance to you and establish peace for you.

Blessed are You, HaShem our Elohim, King of the universe, Who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. And may it be Your will, HaShem, our Elohim, and the Elohim of our forefathers, that You accustom us to study Your Torah and attach us to Your commandments. Do not bring us into the power of error, nor the power of transgression and sin, nor into the power of challenge, not into the power of scorn. Let not the evil inclination dominate us. Distance us from an evil person and an evil companion …

Attach us to the Good Inclination and to good deeds and compel our Evil Inclination to be subservient to You. Grant us today and every day grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us, and bestow beneficent kindnesses upon us. Blessed are You, HaShem, Who bestows beneficent kindness upon His people Israel.

6… The Shema Yisroel

Therefore, we are obliged to thank you, praise You, glorify You, bless, sanctify, and offer praise and thanks to Your Name. We are fortunate, how good is our portion, how pleasant our lot, and how beautiful our heritage. We are fortunate for we come early and stay late, evening and morning, and proclaim twice each day:

Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that HaShem swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” Davarim (Deut) 11:13-21


“HaShem, our Elohim, I pray that You will continue to protect Your people Israel. HaShem, be with them who proclaim the “Shema” and keep Your Torah. Keep them safe our Elohim, and let them not be destroyed.

“HaShem our Elohim, I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Mashiach, even though he tarries I believe with complete faith that he will come.”

Shema Yisroel HaShem Elohenu, HaShem Echad - Baruch Shem Kavod Mal’chu’to Le’olam Va’ed.”

“Hear O Israel, HaShem Our Elohim, HaShem is One - Blessed is the Name of His glorious Kingdom forever.

“And you shall love HaShem your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your being. And these words that I command you this day, shall be on your heart, and you shall teach them meticulously to your children, and you shall speak of them in your house, and as you walk in your ways, and when you lie down, and when you wake. And you shall bind them for a sign on your arm, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the door-posts of your house, and on the gates.” Davarim (Deut) 6:4-9.

“If you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today, to love HaShem your Elohim and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will send rain upon your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then HaShem's anger will burn against you, and He will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land HaShem is giving you. Fix these words of Mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up …”

7… Remove the Tefillin and Tallit

The Tefillin are removed after prayers in the reverse order of placing them on. Firstly, undo the “Sign on the hand,” the strap around the middle finger is unwound and is rewound around the palm.

Next remove the “Shel Rosh” from the head, rewind the straps, and place it back in the bag.

Then remove the “Shel Yad” from the arm. Put the cover back on the “Shel Rosh” and wind the strap securely, and place it in the bottom of the bag. Now put the cover back on the “Shel Yad,” wind the strap securely and place it in the bag in such a way, as it will immediately come to hand when you next open your bag.

One of the reasons we should lay Tefillin is, that throughout the entire day, the Tefillin might have the effect that the mind and the emotions will be devoted to HaShem. Therefore, laying Tefillin is one of the great mitzvah’s the Almighty has given us, and whilst reminding of His greatness, it brings a joy in our hearts!

“Behold, days are coming,’ declares Adonai HaShem, ‘when I will send HUNGER into the land; NOT a HUNGER for bread or a thirst for water, BUT (a hunger) to hear the Words of HaShem.” Amos 8:11.

In conclusion.

There will be some Rabbis who will say that this is not a comprehensive service for the Tefillin and thus not suitable. Well, let me say this, let’s get started and grow little by little. But please in due course go and consult with your/a Rabbi, for when you have familiarised yourself with the Tefillin and the blessing’s etc, you will feel more inclined and be more comfortable to speak with him, for sadly some Rabbis can be a little harsh, especially the Lubavitcher Rabbis who seem to have invaded so many of our Synagogues. But, nevertheless, go and learn and above all know what it is to be a Jew, who loves the Almighty, the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov! But more so study the Torah and continue to read all of the Tanakh, not just the Parashat, for it is full of treasure and it is packed with treasures for our lives!

  Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham.


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Please Note: On many pages of this site, I will show the four letter blessed *“Memorial Name” of the Almighty in Ivrit -  - Y-H-V-H, which we usually pronounce as “Adonai” or “HaShem”. At all times treat the most blessed Name with sanctity and when we even see the Name, we should say “blessed be His Sanctified Name.”


*This is My Name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.” Shemot - Exodus 3:15.




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