Our personalities are made up of three layers- the intellect, emotion and action. These layers correspond to what we think, feel and do.

Intellect includes my opinions on issues, my philosophies on life and my attitude towards myself and others.

Emotion translates as my moods, desires, passions. Emotion is the things I love, hate, fear and what attracts me.

Action refers to activities I do, how I live my life and spend my time.

In an ideal situation these three layers should be in synch. My intellect should direct my emotion which in turn should guide my actions. In other words, my opinions, philosophies and attitudes should direct my passions and desires which in turn should guide the activities I do, how I live my life and spend my time.

However, this is too often not the situation. Sometimes I know I should do something yet it still doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I feel like doing something yet still don’t end up doing it.

  • I know I shouldn’t lie to cover up my actions, feel bad doing so yet still do it.
  • I know I’m in a detrimental relationship yet am too scared to leave.
  • I know I shouldn’t go along with what they’re saying but I am not brave enough to make a stand.

This is one of life’s biggest challenges. The ability to tune into oneself to the extent that one’s attitudes lead to positive desires which are then translated into the right actions is a perpetual test. It takes constant work to achieve this synchronization between mind, body and heart.

And this is where Tefillin come into the picture. Tefillin help Jewish males achieve alignment between these three facets of mind, body and heart. Tefillin are the way to unite thought, feelings and actions towards the Almighty, a power bigger than all three of them.

One box is placed on the head which is the home of the intellect. Its straps hang over the heart which is the base of emotion. The other box is placed on the arm next to the heart and its straps are wrapped around the arm and hand which are the tools of action.

By wearing Tefillin the wearer essentially binds his mind to Divine will in order that he may know what is truly right and wrong. Furthermore, he desires that this knowledge flow into his heart and be translated into a passion for that which is good. Lastly, he wishes that this passion be converted into action, enabling him to live a life full of meaning and purpose, directed by clear morals and pure passions.