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.



Tefillin Shel Rosh Ve Shel Yad

A general principle in Judaism is that women are not bound by time-bound, positive commandments. Tefillin fall into this category as a time-bound, positive commandment.

In addition, it is a Torah prohibition for women to wear garments that are made specifically for men (see Deuteronomy 22:5). Yonatan Ben Uziel is a Talmudic Sage who translated the Bible into Aramaic and he explained this verse as referring to Tefillin and Tzitzit. According to this opinion, a woman who wears Tefillin or Tzitzit is therefore breaking a Torah law.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, a modern scholar (1934-1983), explained that women actually have the commandment of Tefillin naturally incorporated in their spiritual makeup and therefore have no need to wear them. An interesting development of this idea is based on the fact that the purpose of the commandments are to establish a link with G-d, with resembling Him being the most profound way to do so.

Women have a unique way that they resemble G-d that men will never have- women can create within her body. It is only women who can bear children and in this way women are most closely connected to G-d’s attributes than man.

Two basic elements in Judaism are the home and the synagogue (the Jewish house of prayer). In other religions, the house of prayer is the primary element in the religion. Judaism is unique in the way that the house and house of prayer are viewed on equal levels.

Many of the most important rituals are performed exclusively in the home, such as the Passover Seder, the Sukkah, the Shabbat meals and the Chanukah Menorah. Judaism’s continuity is dependent on that which goes on in the Jewish home.

In Hebrew the word for home is Bayit and it is not by chance that the box of a Tefillin is known by the very same name. Men have their Bayit- their Tefillin and women have their Bayit- the home in which they raise their families.