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Mishna Berura Summaries

Siman 27 – How and where to place them

  1. Where do you lay the shel yad? On the left upper arm – on the lower half of the bicep muscle – tilted a bit towards the body. (ShA1)
  1. Don’t lay big tefillin because they won’t fit within the space limits. (MB4)
  1. If that’s all you have, it is better you lay the shel yad beginning the upper edge in the upper half of the muscle rather than ending the tefillin too close to the elbow – because no one holds you can fulfil the mitzva if the lower edge is off the muscle. (MB4)
  1. The knotted yud should be fixed between the tefilla and the chest. Make sure that the yud doesn’t move off of touching the tefilla even while it is in the bag. Some tie the yud to the tefilla with a gid string. (ShA2 – MB10)
  1. Cut out the tittura on the top so you can move the yud in close to the bayis. (MB11)
  1. The loop that comes out of the yud, that the strap runs through, should be short so that the tightening of the slip knot is next to the chest and not on the outside of the arm. (MB8)
  1. The bridge that the strap runs through should be on the shoulder side of the bayis (not the side closer to the elbow). But if you are laying a lefty’s tefillin, turn that bridge around so that the yud will face the chest which is more important. (ShA3 – BeH “haminhag”)
  1. Nothing should separate between the battim of the shel yad and shel rosh and the body. This applies also to the straps that tie the battim on. But for the rest of the straps – don’t worry. (ShA4 – MB16)
  1. Long hair for a man is considered arrogant. It causes a chatzitza for the tefillin, and makes it impossible to wear them tightly on their place. (MB 16)
  1. If you have a bandage where the straps that tie the battim on should be, you should lay the tefillin over the bandage and say a beracha. The poskim disagree if a separation between the tefilla and the skin disqualifies the mitzva or not. Therefore if there is an irremovable bandage on the head or arm inbetween the tefilla and the skin – lay the tefillin without a beracha. (ShA5 – MB16,18)
  1. Make sure to cover the shel yad with clothes. (MB16,18)
  1. A lefty lays tefilin shel yad on his right arm. If he is ambidextrous he lays tefillin on his left. A lefty is judged by his inborn ability to write more comfortably with his left hand. (ShA6 – MB25,27)
  1. Wind the strap once around the middle joint of the middle finger and then twice around the bottom joint. But wind them only after laying the shel rosh. (MB30)
  1. The seven winds all should be around the forearm. Don’t strap down the titura because the straps are less holy and shouldn’t be on the top. (Rama8 – MB31,32)
  1. The place to lay the shel rosh is from where the hair roots begin above the forehead – backwards until the place that a baby’s soft spot ends. (ShA9)
  1. Even the edge of the tittura mustn’t be lower than where the hairline begins. It’s better to lay the tefillin a little higher than the hairline. (MB33)
  1. A ba’al nefesh should teach others not to stumble on the above halacha. (MB33)
  1. The knot of the shel rosh should lie opposite your face, and not opposite your throat. It’s best that it should mainly lie above the hole that is at the bottom of your skull – but at least the knot shouldn’t lie on the skin where there is no hair growing. The Maaseh Rav writes that the knot should lie under the curve of the skull. Beware that the kesher shouldn’t be resting so low – on skin that grows no hair. (MB35 – BeH “b’oref”)
  1. The bayis should lay in front equidistant from both of your eyes. The knot in back should be centered as well. (ShA10)
  1. The circumference of the head straps shouldn’t be longer than the circumference of your head lest the tefillin be too loose and slip off the proper place. They must be snug to fulfill the mitzva of “tying on” the tefillin. Therefore it is best not to lay very big battim. (MB35,36)
  1. The black side of the straps should face outwards. If the part of the straps that go around the head and the arm’s muscle flips around, you should either fast or give some tzedoka. (ShA11 – MB38)
  1. To beautify the mitzva, make sure to wear the entire length of the straps black side out. (MB38)
  1. Since you aren’t able to see the straps around your head, feel them with your hand and make sure the straps are right side out. (MB39)
  1. Lower the straps of the shel rosh so that they are hanging in front of you. The right one should reach until the mila and the left one until the navel. (ShA11 – MB41)
  1. Be very careful that the strap that pulls through the loop of the shel yad shouldn’t become worn down to less than the minimum width – which is the length of a barley kernel (1cm) (ShA11 – MB42)

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