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26.1 If a person only has 1 tifila (singular of tifilin), he should put it on and make a blessing on it, for each one is a commandment by itself. So too if he has both tefillin, but he has some (1) sort of constraint that permits him only to put on one of the tifilin, he should put on that which he can.

MB 1: sort of constraint – Such as a wound on his head or on his arm, or if he is traveling in a caravan which won’t wait for him and therefore has time only to put on one of them, he should put on that which he can. Which of the tifilin is preferred, if one can only put on one? There are those who say that it is better to put on the “shel rosh” […of the head] because it is of greater holiness, and there are those who say that it is better to put on the “shel yad” right now in order not to change the order prescribed by the Torah. When do these words apply? When it will be possible to put on the second tifila later, while travelling. However, if it won’t be possible to put on the other tifila later then he should put on both tifilin before leaving his house, because the fact that one is travelling does not mean that he is permitted to fail to perform the commandment to wear tifilin.

26:2 If one only puts on the tifila “shel rosh”, he should only make the blessing “al mitzvas tifilin” […on the mitzvah of tifilin]. {Rama: (2) And according to us, who have the custom to make two blessings every day, he should make two blessings even if putting on the “shel rosh” alone. And if he is only putting on the “shel yad”, he should only (3) make the blessing “l’haniach” [ place…].

MB 2: We, who have the custom – According to what we explained above in Section 25 in MB 31 – see there. [The old printings say MB 32 – this is correct.]

MB 3: We make the blessing – See in the Pri Megadim, who brings us several decisors who are of the opinion that even if one is putting on only the “shel yad”, he should say 2 blessings. However, the later commentators agree that the law is that one says only “to place” if he is only putting on the “shel yad”, because even without [the fact that he is only putting on one tefila], there are those who rule that one should only say one blessing. If someone put on both tefillin and did not say a blessing over them – where the law is that he should make a blessing as long as they are still upon him – if he then said the blessing over the “shel rosh” first and _then_ that of the “shel yad,” he should not go back – but ideally, even if he put on the “shel yad” without saying a blessing, he should say the blessing upon it before putting on the “shel rosh.”


Section 27. The Location and the Method of Placing Tefillin

27:1. The Location for placing the “shel yad” (tefillin placed on the arm) is on the (1) left arm (2) on the muscle which bulges out from the bone, which lies between (3) the elbow and armpit. One should tilt the tefillin a little in towards the body so that when he bends his arm downwards the tefillin will face his heart, thereby fulfilling “And these words shall be … on your heart” [Devarim 6:6]. {Rama: And one must place the tefillin (4) at that end of the limb which is next to the elbow, and not on the half which is closer to the armpit.} {One (5) who does not have a lower arm, just an upper arm, should put on [the arm-tefillin] (6) but not recite the blessing over it.} {Because Tosfot in HaKometz [the third chapter of Menachos] wrote that such a man is obligated to put tefillin on his arm nonetheless, but the Or Zarua wrote that he is exempt. [So he puts it on to fulfill the opinion of Tosfot, but doesn’t recite the blessing because the Or Zarua would consider it a blessing in vain, and we are always very careful to avoid reciting a vain blessing. This is what we often do to fulfill both sides of a question – perform the mitzvah, but omit the blessing.]}

MB 1: Left – Because it says “yadchah” [your arm] with [an extra] “h” at the end, meaning [i.e. hinting at] “yad cehah” [dull arm], i.e. the left arm which is weak and dull. And they also derived this [exegetically] from the verses “And you shall tie them [as tefillin] … and you shall write them [on mezuzot]” [Devarim 6:8-9] – just as the writing is done with the right hand, as such is the way people generally [write], so too the tying is done with the right hand; and since the tying is with the right hand, it must be placed on the left arm. And if one placed it on the right hand, even if the deed was already done (“bedieved”), he has not fulfilled [his obligation].

MB 2: On the [muscle which] bulges out – And this is the place called “kibores” in the language of the Sages [of the Talmud]. This is an absolute condition for fulfilling the mitzvah, as the Gemara derives it from a Scriptural verse.

MB 3: The elbow – [He translates the word into the vernacular.]

MB 4: At that end of the bone – Not meaning the actual end of the bone, for there is no bulge yet there, and until the arm bulges it is not the right place for tefillin, because it is not called the “kibores”. He means on the bulging muscle of the arm, and the Rama here is not adding anything new except the end of his sentence: “and not on the half which is closer to the armpit”, i.e. even though on that half there is still a slight bulge. And the Shulchan Aruch also agrees with this [statement of the Rama], that [it should be placed] only on the lower half of the [upper arm] bone, as is clear from Seif [paragragh] 7. And when the Shulchan Aruch wrote first “on the bulge of the arm” [without specifying this condition], he must have meant also that it must be on the lower half of the limb. But the GR”A (Vilna Gaon), in his commentary, ruled that the entire bulging area is suitable for placing the tefillin, and it also seems that the Perishah [commentary on the Tur] thinks so. In any case, below the bulging area is the wrong location according to all opinions. Therefore, it is proper not to wear large tefillin, because usually the bottom end of large tefillin portrudes below the bulging area – unless one intentionally ties it on the top half of the limb, but it is also not proper to do this, i.e. set out to follow the lenient opinion [of the GR”A, who permits placing tefillin on the top half of the upper arm] since the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama agree with the stricter opinion. However, if one only has large tefillin, then it is better to tie them onto the top half of the limb where there is yet some bulging, so he will fulfill the mitzvah at least according to the opinion of the GR”A et al, than to let them portrude beneath the bulging area, and then he would not fulfill the mitzvah according to any opinion and additionally recite the blessing in vain.

MB 5: Who does not have a lower arm – i.e. he is missing the whole left hand and forearm until the elbow. But if part of the forearm remains, then even the Or Zarua would agree with the Tosfot that he is obligated to put on tefillin, and he can even recite the blessing. I found this halachah in the Or Zarua whose enlightenment we have recently merited [i.e. which was only recently published].

MB 6: But not recite the blessing over it – see the Biur Halachah [the Mishnah Berurah’s in-depth commentary, for a discussion of the two sides of this issue]. And if one has no left arm at all, or even if some portion of the limb remains above the bulging area but he has no bulging muscle, he is exempt from putting tefillin on his arm; and he needn’t put tefillin even on his right arm [instead], but some are strict and require this instead. The previous discussion dealt with one who lost his left arm, where the tefillin should be placed; one who lost his right arm, though, even if it was cut off entirely, is still obligated to put on tefillin, and should ask someone else to tie it [onto his remaining left arm] for him.

27:2. (7) The proper custom (8) is that the “yud”-shaped knot of the arm-tefillin [i.e. the knot right next to the box of the arm-tefillin, which is already tied when you buy the tefillin] should be nearer to the heart, and the actual box (9) above it further out [from the heart]. (10) One should be careful not to let the “yud”-shaped knot move away (11) from the tefillin-box.

MB 7: The proper custom – See the commentary of the GR”A [Vilna Gaon], who wrote that this is [not only a custom, but] a law stated in the Gemara, if one follws the interpretation of the Geonim.

MB 8: Is that the “yud”-shaped knot etc. – See the Biur Halachah, where we wrote that is is proper to be careful not to make a large loop [coming out of the “yud-shaped” knot] for the single strap of leather to go through, so that the place where the strap is tightened [to attach the tefillin onto the arm] also be next to the tefillin-box. [i.e. The tefillin-box has a single strap coming out of one side, and a yud-shaped knot with a loop coming out of the other side. To put the tefillin on, we pass the single strap through the loop and tighten it. The Mishnah Berurah here says that the loop should be small, so that the place where the strap is tightened against the loop (which is at the end of the loop) also be against the heart and next to the tefillin-box. This is because some commentators interpret the requirements of a knot next to the heart as referring not to the “yud-shaped” knot which is always there, but to the “knot” formed by tightening the straps each time the tefillin are put on. – AB]

MB 9: Above etc. – [The Shulchan Aruch] doesn’t mean that the tefillin-box should be on top of the knot; we certainly require that the knot be on the side of the tefillin-box and not under it. [i.e. this doesn’t mean that the knot should be beneath the tefillin, touching the skin.] Rather, he means that because one tilts the tefillin towards the body as he wrote in Paragraph 1, the “yud”-shaped knot which is closer to the body is called “under” and the tefillin-box can be called “above” it.

MB 10: One should be careful – And the Zohar on Parshas Pinchas is very strict about this. And some are strict and say that even when the tefillin are lying in their bag, one must be careful not to let the “yud”-shaped knot move away [from the tefillin-box] at all. And therefore, some have the custom to tie the “yud”-shaped knot to the tefillin-box with a string of sinew. But one should not do so, because through such tying, this thread of sinew will go under the botton of the tefillin-box and separate between the arm and the tefillin-box. [And the tefillin-box must lie directly on the arm, without any separation.] [Nowadays, many people tie the knot onto the tefillin-box, but tie the string around the sides of the tefillin-box instead of under it, so they avoid this problem of separation. – AB] And the Levushei Srad wrote that one should also abandon the custom of wrapping the strap around the bulging area and under the bottom of the tefillin-box, for this also constitutes a “separation” [between the arm and the tefillin-box]. [I believe that nowadays, we have abandoned this problematic custom already. – AB]

MB 11: From the tefillin-box – and one should make a notch in the top of the portruding bottom rectangle of the tefillin [where this knot emerges] so that one can tightly attach the knot to the actual cube of the tefillin. [All tefillin that I’ve seen come like this; there is not just a little hole for the strap to emerge, but a big notch so that it emerges right next to the cube of the tefillin (which actually contains the scrolls). – AB]

27:3. The proper custom is to set up [the tefillin] so that the area of the bottom tefillin-section where the strap passes through is closer to the shoulder, (12) and the cube [containing the scrolls] is closer to the hand.

MB 12: And the cube etc. – And a left-handed person who puts on tefillin made for a right-handed person, or vice versa, and he cannot take the strap out of the tefillin and re-thread it in the reverse direction [thus changing the “handedness” of the tefillin], see the Biur Halachah. [The problem is that with the wrong tefillin, you have to either let the knot be away from the body, thus violating Paragraph 2, or turn it upside-down and have the strap closer to the hand, thus violating Paragraph 3. In the Biur Halachah, he writes that if you can’t change the tefillin, it’s better to put them on with the strap closer to the shoulder and the cube closer to the hand, thus forgoing the custom of Paragraph 3, than to forgo the possible law (see MB 7) of Paragraph 2. – AB]

Assaf Bednarsh [email protected]

Siman 27: The Place and Method of Putting on Teffilin (continued)

27:4 (13) There should not be (14) anything separating between the Teffilin and his skin for both the Teffilin of the arm and (15) of the head. {Rema: This refers specifically to the Teffilin themselves, but for the straps (16) there is no need to be strict.}

MB 13: There Should Not etc. – Because it says “on your arm” and by the Teffilin of the head it says “between your eyes.”

MB 14: Anything Separating – Even a minute separation. It’s proper to be careful a priori, even for a live louse that it should divide between the Teffilin and the skin, but by a dead louse and dirt one must be careful and therefore there are those that are accustomed to wash the place where the Teffilin are put. It is written in the Revid Hazahav”, it seems that which the strap sometimes separates between the Teffilin and his skin is not called a separation because (of the principle) a type of material does not separate its own type (i.e., Since the Teffilin are leather and the straps are leather the strap is not considered a separation between the Teffilin and the body). And from the Levushai Srad, that I quoted before in MB10, it seems that it is proper to be careful for this a priori.

MB 15: Of the Head – It is written in the Sefer Machatzis Hasheqel that to me it is bad the action that people grow their “chups” besides that it is a means of being pompous and haughty, see what it says in Yoreh De’ah Siman (Section) 178, there is also a prohibition of putting on Teffilin, since it grew so much you can not claim “this is the way it grows” (since the hair is so long it is not considered the natural growth of the hair) and they cause a separation between the Teffilin and the hair,. Even if not for the issue of the separation there is a different problem because of the excess hair, that it is difficult (if not impossible) that they should be attached and sitting in the right place like the halacha.

MB 16: There is no Need to be Strict – And the later commentaries wrote that we should only be lenient in the place of the wrappings (around the arm), but we should be strict with the parts of the straps which is associated with actually tying on the Teffilin, both of the arm and of the head. They wrote an open criticism of those that wear their Teffilin on a wig (Toupee), even if only the strap is on the wig. Never the less, it seems from the Magen Avraham and the Chayei Adam that if someone has a wound on the head on the spot where the strap go, but not where that Teffilin themselves belong, then it is permitted for him to place the straps on the bandages on the wound or on a thin hat and make the appropriate blessing, even though there is a separation under the straps, because in the place of the actual Teffilin there is no separation. Also, by the Teffilin of the arm if he has a wound, even where the knot circles the arm, it is permitted for him to put the knot that circles the arm on the bandages and to make a blessing. However, by the Teffilin of the arm, he should be careful to cover them up to uphold the idea of “for you as a sign, and not for others as a sign.”

27:5 A person who (17) tends to have secretions and if he has to put the (18) Teffilin of the head directly on his body he won’t put them on at all he can permitted to place the Teffilin of the head on a (19) thin hat that is very close to his head (only slightly removed physically from his head) and then he should cover the Teffilin from those who might see them. {Rema: And those that put on the Teffilin in this fashion should not make a blessing on the Teffilin of the head, (20) but should only make the blessing of “L’haniach” (the blessing we normally make on the Teffilin of the arm) for the Teffilin of the arm.}

MB 17: Tends to Have Secretions – This means that he has a disease or illness on his head and if he exposes his head the cold will affect him. Since he has no options he can rely on the ruling of the Rashb”a who states that there is no need to worry about separations. And the only reason it says “between the eyes” is to specify a place. Because of “for you as a sign, and not for others as a sign” there is no concern by the Teffilin for the head because it states by them “and all the nations of the earth that the name of Hashem is called on you.” (The Teffilin of the head are supposed to be a public declaration.) Never the less he must cover them because people that see him will not realize that he has no options.

MB 18: Teffilin of the Head etc. – If he has an injury on his arm in the place of the Teffilin, and it covers the entire muscle, he can place the Teffilin on the bandage, if there is no other way, and he should not make a blessing on them. This is because the ruling of most authorities that a separation invalidates and he should make two blessings on the Teffilin of the head like earlier in Siman 26 and in the Rema. However, he should wear another garment over the Teffilin of the arm to cover them because it says “and it shall be for you as a sign” and the Rabbis learn from here for you as a sign and not for others as a sign. This is specifically on a bandage, but to place the Teffilin on a garment is forbidden even if there is another garment on top.

MB 19: Thin Hat – But on a thick hat it is forbidden to place them because he won’t be able to adjust the Teffilin properly to be in the spot where a newborn’s head is soft.

MB 20: But Should Only Make the Blessing etc. – And he should intend to include the Teffilin of the head, because even without this there are many opinions that only one blessing needs to be said for both. Look in the Ba”ch and the Olas Tamid that it seems that it is proper that at least during Shma and Shmona Esrei there should be no separation at all.

27:6 (21) A (22) lefty who does (23) all his work with his left hand (24) puts his Teffilin on his “left hand” which is the right hand of all people. And if he (25) uses both hands he places them on the left of all people. If he writes with his right hand and does all other work with his left hand or he write with his left hand and the rest of his work he does with his right hand, there are those that say to put the Teffilin on his (26) weaker hand because we “need” “the weaker hand” (It says in the posuk “it will be a sign on ‘yadchah'” which means your hand, but it is written with an extra Hei at the end of the word, so we learn it as two words – yad caihah – the weaker hand). And there are those that say that the hand with which he writes is (27) considered the right hand for this and he puts his Teffilin on the other hand. {Rema: (28) This is the custom (like the second opinion).}

MB 21: And a lefty etc. – Look earlier in MB12 (where the MB discusses the situation of a lefty borrowing Teffilin from a righty).

MB 22: Lefty – Even if he became a lefty by getting himself accustomed to it, and is not a natural lefty, he should still place his Teffilin on his right arm, and especially if was made this way from Heaven, that he was born with a disease in his right arm and he has no strength in it, or if his right hand was cut off and he has to do all

his work with his left hand then he is definitely considered a lefty and he should put his Teffilin on his deformed arm. And if he was healed and now uses both arms equally he is like any other person.

MB 23: All His Work – The same applies if he only does most of his work.

MB 24: Puts His Teffilin on His “Left Hand” – And if he placed them on his right hand which is the left hand of all others, even post facto he has not fulfilled his obligation and look in the Beur Halacha (where he references the Shaarei Teshuvah who says, that according to the Ba’al Haitur, he does fulfill his obligation. The Beur Halacha then asks a question to “refute” this opinion).

MB 25: Uses Both Hands – This means that he does all his work equally with both hands. But if he can do it more easily with his left hand, even though he can do it with his right hand, this is not considered ambidextrous. [This is also obvious from the Shaarei Teshuvah in Siman 641 (by the laws of Lulav).]

MB 26: Weaker Hand – According to this opinion writing has no special importance and we go by the hand which does most of the work and that (the hand which does less) is called the left hand.

MB 27: Considered the Right Hand – Because it says “and you shall tie” (by Teffilin) “and you shall write” (by Mezuzah). This implies that with the same hand you write you tie the Teffilin on the opposite hand. However, if he was not born this way but trained himself to write with his left hand and he does all other actions with his right hand he should put his Teffilin on the left hand of all people. A person who does not know how to write definitely considers the arm that he does all other activities with to be his right arm.

MB 28: This is the Custom – Look in the Beur Halacha (where he brings the various rulings regarding how ambidextrous men should wear Teffilin).

Binyamin Rudman


Once again, please learn today on behalf of the speedy and complete healing of Nechemia ben Devorah Leah, amongst all Jews who may be sick or ill.

Section 27. The Place and Method of Putting on Tefillin (cont.)

27:7. Even though a person has a wound at the spot where the tefillin should be placed, he should still put tefillin on, because the arm has enough room for two tefillin – because on the upper arm [lit. the bone closest to the armpit], from halfway down (29) until the elbow, is all acceptable for placement of the tefillin.

MB 29: Until the elbow – Meaning, on the flesh that sticks out [the muscle] on the side towards the elbow; and not truly up to the elbow itself. And if the wound extends over all of the flesh that sticks out on the side closest to the elbow, he can rely on those who are lenient to allow placement on the flesh which sticks out over the upper half of the bone. And if the wound is large, and it pains him to put on the tefillin, then he is exempt from putting on the “shel yad” even if there is a place where it is possible to put it on – rather, he puts on the “shel rosh” alone as said above in section 26, see there. And see what we wrote in section 5 MB 18.

27:8. The arm-strap of the Tefillin must be long enough to go around the arm and be tied, and reach down to his middle finger where it is wrapped around the finger (30) three times and tied there. The general custom is to also wrap the arm-strap onto one’s [lower] arm six (31) or seven times. {Rama: (32) And one should not wrap the arm-strap around the base of the tefillin box itself in order to hold it in place on the arm.} [We will learn more later about how tefillin are constructed. Essentially, the center cube is built upon a rectangular base that is a bit larger. This base can be opened up to insert the Torah portions into the Tefillin, and it is then sewn shut. At the back of the base is a long slot, through which the strap is placed.]

MB 30: Wrapped three times – two on the bone of the finger which is closest to the body, and once on the middle bone. And there are those who say that the first circuit should be around the middle bone, and only then two on the closest one. All of these should be made only after putting on the “shel rosh” [tefillin on the head].

MB 31: Or Seven – And our custom is seven times. See in the Sha’arei Tshuvah who concludes that one should only make these seven circuits on the [lower] arm itself – not like those few who have a custom to make three circuits around the elbow, and then four on the lower arm.

MB 32: And one should not wrap – Because one has already fulfilled the requirement of “and you shall tie” [the tefillin onto your arm] using the strap that runs through the slot in the tefillin box – as is true with the tefillin “shel rosh” [of the head], where we also rely upon the strap going through the slot. Because there is no mitzvah, therefore, to wrap the strap around the tefillin, one should not do so – because the base of the tefillin has greater holiness [and should therefore not be covered by the strap]. For those who have the custom to place the “shel rosh” before they wrap the arm-strap around the arm, some say that they can wrap the arm-strap around the box itself, in order that the “shel yad” should not move from its place until he puts on the “shel rosh”. Afterwards, he should take the arm-strap off the box, and wrap it seven times around his arm. One who has thin arms, and his tefillin tend to move from their place as a result, is permitted to wrap the strap around the base of the tefillin in order to steady them in place.

27:9. The proper place for the tefillin of the head, the “shel rosh”, is from (33) where a person’s hair begins to grow at the top of his forehead, (34) until the end of the soft area on a baby’s skull.

MB 33: Where a person’s hair begins – The words “between your eyes” are not to be taken literally, as we learn from the use of the same phrasing when the Torah speaks about a person whose relative has died: “do not make a bald spot between your eyes” [meaning, do not rip out your hair]. Just as the intent there is in the place where one could make a bald spot, namely on the head, so too the place for the tefillin begins from the point where it is possible to make a bald spot, which is from the point where hair begins to grow on his head. And many err and say that the highest point for the tefillin is where the hair begins, and the tefillin are mainly placed upon the forehead. These people transgress the Torah, because all tefillin must be placed where a bald spot can be, which means that even the lowest point of the base of the tefillin can be placed where the hair begins to grow. However, one should not tell a person who has long hair reaching halfway down his forehead that he should put his tefillin there, because the tefillin must begin from where the hair begins to emerge from his skull, and go upwards from there. And it is still better to put it a bit further up, because there is sufficient place on the head for two tefillin, and this way he ensures that it will not slip down onto his forehead. And all those who are putting the tefillin onto their foreheads are following a Karaite custom and not performing the commandment. Anyone with care for his soul will caution his friends and teach them not to stumble in this, in order that they should not be (Heaven forfend) in the category of those in Israel who transgress with their bodies – namely those with “a skull that did not put tefillin on” [see Talmud Rosh HaShana 17a], and the make the blessing for nothing, because Tefillin that are placed improperly are as if they were placed in their bag. If one’s tefillin slipped from their places he must return them immediately, and as far as making a new blessing, se above in section 25 paragraph 12.

MB 34: Until the back of the area – meaning that the end of the slot of the tefillin [at the back, as described above in my note to 27:8] should not be placed higher than the place where a baby’s skull is soft.

Yaakov Menken [email protected]

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Siman 27 The Location and Method of Laying Tefillin

(continuing with the position of the shel rosh)

27:10. The knot should be at the back of the head above (35) on the base of the skull (bo’ref). One should position the box (36) in the middle so that it should be in line between the eyes. The knot should also be in the middle of the base of the skull and not towards one side or the other. The part of the knot (37) that looks like the letter daled should be on the outside. {Rama: Similarly with regard to the knot of the shel yad one should take care that it doesn’t become inverted.}

MB 35: on the base of the skull – which is the base of the skull and is in line with the face, but not lower down in line with the throat. It is good that the main part of the knot should lie above the depression in the flesh, and one should at least be careful that not even a small part of the knot lies on an area free of hair because that is already called the back of the neck (the nape) and not the back of the head. Therefore, one should take care that the strap that goes round the head should be pressed and tight fitting around the head, so that the circumference of the strap should not be longer than the circumference of the head. In that case, there would be two things wrong: firstly, the strap needs to be tight [in order to fulfill] “And you shall BIND them for a sign etc” – it is only considered bound if it is tight fitting; and secondly, if the strap that goes round the head is loose then either the box will fall forward onto his forehead or the knot will fall backwards onto his neck and they will not be positioned correctly.

MB 36: in the middle – of the width of the head and not leaning towards one side, in order to fulfill “And they shall be as frontlets BETWEEN your eyes”. Many of the Later Authorities have written that if he does not do this he would not fulfill the Mitzvah of Tefillin, so one should be careful about this. It is also good to be careful, a priori, that one’s Tefillin are not too big, because if so it is almost impossible that they would be [both] tight fitting around his head and also positioned correctly: because if they lie correctly on the top of his head they will not be tight and the knot won’t be in the right place (and if they are tight they won’t be positioned correctly). See later in Section 32 Paragraph 41 [the MB there advocates against small size Tefillin as well, and recommends a minimum size of two finger breadths squared).

MB 37: that looks like the letter ‘daled’ – Two straps emerge from the knot going downwards. The one that emerges from the left side of the wearer continues horizontally like the roof of the ‘daled’ and the one that emerges on his right continues vertically downwards like the foot of the ‘daled’. One should see [to it] that the knot should not become inverted neither when making it or when wearing the Tefillin. See later in Section 32 Paragraph 52 [the MB discusses some of the details of making the knot].

27:11. The black [painted] side of the straps should be on the outside (38) and with (39) both the shel yad and the shel rosh, he should keep them from becoming inverted. One should let down the straps so that they hang in front of him, and they should reach (40) his naval (41) or slightly above it. The width of the straps of the shel yad and the shel rosh should be at least (42) the length of [a grain of] barley. If the length or width of his straps is less than this, if he can’t find others (43) he may lay them (44) as they are until he finds others with the correct size. (45) It is good that the Tefillin shel rosh should be uncovered and visible, but when a disciple is in the presence of his teacher (46) it is not respectful to uncover his Tefillin. {Rama: But with the shel yad (47) one need not be particular (48) if they are uncovered or not. It seems to me that nowadays, when we only lay Tefillin for reciting the Sh’ma and the Amidah, that even a disciple in the presence of his teacher may uncover even the shel rosh. And so is the custom, not to be particular.}

MB 38: and they shouldn’t become inverted – And if they do become inverted then it is a pious custom (midas chasidus) to fast or to redeem oneself by giving charity. One need not be particular that they shouldn’t become inverted except with regard to [the part of the strap] that goes around the head, or once round the biceps muscle – but the part that one wraps around the arm afterwards, and also the part that hangs down in front from the straps of the shel rosh, one need not be concerned to prevent them from becoming inverted, because they are not the main part of the Mitzvah. Nevertheless because of the beauty of the Mitzvah it is appropriate to ensure that the black [painted] side is on the outside even on the rest.

MB 39: neither the shel yad or the shel rosh – With regard to the shel yad, which he can see when he lays it, he will be able to see that neither the knot or the strap become inverted – but with the shel rosh, which he can’t see when he lays it around his head, he should handle it well with his hand from the box itself all the way around on both sides, and feel if the straps are lying correctly.

MB 40: his naval – and if it extends further than this it doesn’t matter.

MB 41: or slightly above it – Look in R’Akiva Eiger and the Artzos Hachaim who conclude that the right side [should extend] to the naval and the left side to the breast. The Tur writes another opinion that the right side should extend to the circumsision and the left side to the naval.

MB 42: the length of [a grain of] barley – i.e. with the peel, but without the stalk because they have very long stalks. Others say that a width just a little more than the length of a grain of wheat and less than the length of a grain of barley is adequate. In pressing circumstances one can rely on this. The Later Authorities wrote that one should be very careful at the place where the loop is tied tightly, because it is likely that the strap will fold or be pinched or cut to the point where it may be less than the minimum width. [I believe that this refers to the place where the strap on the arm is doubled back after going through the loop. — YM]

MB 43: he may lay them – Because there are those authorities that allow this, and those that don’t, even after the fact, as is explained in the Bais Yosef, therefore [the Mechaber] decided [to make this compromise].

MB 44: as they are – The Later Authorities conclude that if the straps of the shel yad are shorter than the necessary length mentioned above in paragraph 8, then he should put them on without a blessing. And if the strap is long enough to reach the snapping finger, the winding around the fingers is not crucial. With regard to the shel rosh, the Artzos Hachaim wrote that only if there is, apart from the part that surrounds the head, at least a length of 2 Tefachim is it kosher, but if not he should lay them without a Blessing. With regard to the width of the straps of the shel yad and shel rosh, he was also stringent and said that if they were only as wide as the length of a grain of wheat he should lay them without a Blessing; see there. And as far as repairing the straps, see later at the end of section 33 and in the MB.

MB 45: It is good that – As it is written (Devarim 28.10) “And all the nations of the world shall see that you are called by the name of G-d, and they shall fear you.” And it is good that the knot should also be uncovered but we are not accustomed to do so. After the fact, even if they were completely covered he has fulfilled the Mitzvah.

MB 46: it is not respectful – for the Tefillin are an honour, as is written (Devarim 28.10) “And all the nations of the world shall see etc,” and it is not respectful to put oneself on the same level as one’s teacher – so he should cover them with his Tallis or hat.

MB 47: one need not be particular – However, a priori, it is much better to cover them.

MB 48: if they are uncovered or not – i.e. if his clothes tore, it doesn’t matter, but it is forbidden to lay them on top of his clothes as mentioned in Paragraph 5.