A Visual Guide
Tefillin consist of two leather boxes with parchment with biblical passages inside. The first one goes on your arm, the second on your head.
A right-handed person should place tefillin on the left arm (lefties wear it on their right). The box is placed on the lower half of the bicep. Just before tightening through the loop, the first blessing is recited:
ברוך אתה ה’ אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצונו להניח תפילין
Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who sanctified us with God’s commandments and commanded us to place the tefillin.
The Sephardic and Hasidic custom is to wrap the tefillin strap away from the torso. The Ashkenazic practice is to wrap towards the torso. In both cases, the strap is wrapped around the arm seven times.
The Head Tefillin
The head tefillin is placed with the front at the hairline (or where that hairline used to be).
Before tightening it, the following blessing is recited:
ברוך אתה ה’ אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצונו על מצוות תפילין
Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who sanctified us with God’s commandments and commanded us regarding the mitzvah of tefillin.
The front should be centered in between the eyes and the back knot should sit in the soft spot of the top of the neck.
Bring the straps around to the front with the shiny black side (the “front” side) facing out. Recite these words:
ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד
Blessed is the name of the Glory of God’s Kingdom forever.
Wrapping the Hand
Finally, the letters of one of God’s names, Shaddai–shin, dalet, yod–are “written” across the hand using the tefillin straps. The strap of the arm tefillin is wrapped around the upper knuckle of the middle finger, once, and twice on the lower knuckle, with the second wrap extending across three fingers (see below). This makes the dalet and yod.
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