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37:1 Great is the (1) reward for the commandment of Tefilin, and anyone who (2) does not put them on is (3) included amongst the sinners of Israel (4) with their bodies.

MB 1: Reward – All those who wear them have long lives as it says in the Posuk “Hashem is on them – they will live.” it means that all those that wear the name of Hashem on them will live. And they are promised a share in the world to come, and the fires of hell (Gehenom) will not subjugate them and all his sins will be forgiven.

MB 2: Does Not Put Them On – This includes those who refrain intermittently from putting them on, and definitely if he constantly abandons this commandment. The Pri Megadim quotes that even someone who abandoned the Mitzvah one day is considered a sinner of Israel.

MB 3: Included Amongst The Sinners of Israel – This is specifically if he doesn’t wear them because they are distasteful to him, but someone who fears wearing them because he requires a clean body and he will not have proper concern for the holiness of Tefilin, even though he is not behaving properly, because it is simple to be careful for the duration of Shma and Shmoneh Esrei, never-the-less he is not considered a sinner of Israel. The Ba”ch writes that if a person does not wear Tefilin because he is afraid of missing work, because of some other monetary loss, or because he is lazy is also considered a sinner of Israel, but there is a difference

in his punishment. You should know this is an open admonishment to those people who out of laziness wear their Tefilin of the head on the forehead and not above the hairline, or they wear their Tefilin for the arm on an improper spot because it is as if they have not worn Tefilin at all. The Pri Megadim also alerted us to this in Siman 27 where he wrote that if the Tefilin are in the wrong spot it is as if they are in their bag, and look in the Be’ur Halacha in Siman 27 where this issue is discussed.

MB 4: With Their Bodies – The Talmud in Tractate Rosh Hashanah page 17 discusses the punishment for such a person. It says that for a mediocre person to whom Hashem usually judges with mercy, but when such a sin is amongst his other transgressions, will be judged harshly and will be forced to go to Gehenom, and if G-d forbid his transgressions are greater than his merits he will be forced to spend 12 months in Gehenom (the amount of time a complete sinners spends) and after that their bodies are destroyed and their souls are burned and a wind disperses their ashes under the feet of the righteous. However, Tosefos point out that this is only when they have not done Teshuvah. Since the mitzvah of Tefilin is of such paramount importance, it is incumbent on everyone to buy proper Tefilin from a proper and G-d fearing scribe, and also that the Retzuoa (leather straps) should be bought from a trustworthy man to ensure that they were processed specifically for the Mitzvah of Tefilin from hides of Kosher animals, not only because if he isn’t scrupulous about buying Kosher Tefilin will he not be wearing Tefilin but he will also be making countless wasted blessings which is a great sin. And included amongst out numerous sins there are many who are concerned mainly with paying as little as possible and most of these Tefilin are not square and there are other problems that occur when writing them. All that are G-d fearing will realize that if they are careful about their clothing and other possessions will definitely be concerned about their objects for doing Mitzvos and will not be stingy with their money, but will be careful to but Kosher Tefilin if they are very expensive. The Darchei Moshe (the Rema’s explanation on the Tur) writes in the name of the Mordechai that a person should seek out nice Tefilin because of the Posuk “This is my G-d and I will beautify Him” that is that an experienced scribe will write them nicely with good ink and a fine quill on nice parchment.

37:2 The Mitzvah is to wear the Tefilin the entire day, but because one needs a clean body, that he should not pass air while wearing them, and one cannot remove his attention from them, the custom is not to wear them the entire day. Never the less everyone has to be careful (5) that they are on him (6) during Shma (7) and Shmoneh Esrei.

MB 5: That They are on Him – Because for this short duration it is easy to be careful about passing air and forgetting about them.

MB 6: During Shma – Because reading Shma without Tefilin is considered as providing false testimony on himself (Shma contains the commandment of Tefilin, and if one reads the commandment and is simultaneously ignoring the Mitzvah is showing that he isn’t interested in the Mitzvah). If he either didn’t have Tefilin or he had a stomach ache at the time of saying Shma he should remember to put Tefilin on later during the day because the Mitzvah of wearing Tefilin extends throughout the day.

MB 7: And Shmoneh Esrei – Look earlier in 25:13 (where the SH”A discusses when one is supposed to take off the Tefilin at the end of prayers). This is for the masses, but certain people are accustomed to learn after prayers while wearing Tefilin. One should be careful not to speak wasteful things while wearing them, not only because of the problem of speaking wasteful things, but there is also the problem of forgetting about the Tefilin. Look earlier in Siman 28 MB1 and in the Maasei Rav.

37:3 A child (8) that knows how to be careful with his Tefilin so as not to pass air or sleep in them {Rema: and not to go into the bathroom with them} – his father is obligated to buy him Tefilin (9) to teach him. {Rema: There are those that say that this “child” is (10) specifically at the (11) age of thirteen years and one day. [(12) This is the accepted custom and one should not deviate.]}

MB 8: That Knows – Because prior to this, he cannot wear Tefilin and it is not considered teaching.

MB 9: To Teach Him – in the Mitzvah of wearing them and also the laws concerning them.

MB 10: Specifically – And earlier than this we don’t allow him to wear Tefilin, because he will not be careful.

MB 11: Age of Thirteen Years – This is before he brings proof that he reached puberty.

MB 12: This is the accepted custom – The custom now is to start wearing Tefilin two to three months in advance and look in the Be’ur Halacha (where it is explained that a child of 12 that is learning Talmud and understands about Tefilin can be trusted to be careful while wearing Tefilin). Someone who speaks but cannot hear, or can hear but cannot speak is obligated to wear Tefilin, but if he cannot hear or speak (he is exempt from wearing Tefilin) but can wear Tefilin if he so desires.

Binyamin Rudman