Revi’i 11 Kislev 5775 Jerusalem

A reflection on language and ritual.

This morning at shacharis, I had my left hand, wrapped in tephillin, near my chin, and at the familiar leather smell, I thought: what are we all “wrapped up about”? Meaning, I felt, why do we put these tephillin on? That thought (rightfully) comes to one from time to time as you wear tephillin. I thought about the convergence of that expression “all wrapped up” and the fact that the halacha urges us to get wrapped up each morning, in our tallit, in our tephillin, and hopefully in our prayers.

Contrast these activities to the seeming opposite phrase “to unwind”. We unwind somewhat on Shabbat, when the day itself serves as a sign, and we do not wear tephillin.

My dear Rabbi, Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, (may he enjoy long and good days), one of the leading lights of the Nachel Haredi, would always say, “a person has to know for what he gets up in the morning”. I think that’s why the Law urges us to get wrapped up each day. You need to be wrapped up in your ideals. They need to be so real for you that it is like they are part of your body. They need to be “a sign on your arm, and frontlets between your eyes”.

If you do not remind yourself of your ideals with high regularity, they may tend to “unravel”.

Women are more intrinsically bound to their ideals and don’t need such a long tether.

Tephillin – Dare to be Square