Tefillin are two small black boxes with black straps attached to them; Jewish men are required to place one box on
their head and tie the other one on their arm each weekday morning. Tefillin are biblical in origin, and are commanded within
the context of several laws outlining a Jew's relationship to God. "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them
upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them
as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a frontlet between your eyes" (Deuteronomy 6:5-8).
Certain Jewish groupsincluding probably the Sadducees, and definitely the medieval Karaitesunderstood the last verse
to be figurative; it means only that one should always be preoccupied with words of Torah, as if they were in front of one's
eyes. The Pharisees, however, took the text literally; the words of the Torah are to be inscribed on a scroll and placed directly
between one's eyes and on one's arm. Tefillin are wrapped around the arm seven times, and the straps on the head are adjusted
so they fit snugly.
The text that is inserted inside the two boxes of Tefillin is hand-written by a scribe, and consists of the four sets
of biblical verses in which Tefillin are commanded (Exodus 13:1-10, 11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21). Because each pair
of Tefillin is hand-written and hand-crafted, it is relatively expensive, and a well-made pair costs several hundred dollars.
The word Tefillin is commonly translated as "phylacteries," though the Hebrew term is more often used. I have never
met a Jew who puts on Tefillin who calls them "phylacteries."
Putting on Tefillin is the first mitzvah assumed by a Jewish male upon his Bar Mitzvah. Usually, boys are trained
to start wearing them one to two months before their thirteenth Hebrew birthday. During the training period, boys don Tefillin,
but do not recite a blessing. Subsequent to the Bar Mitzvah, a specific blessing, "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of
the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to put on Tefillin, " is recited whenever they
are worn. Many Jews say an additional blessing and prayer upon putting on Tefillin.
Tefillin are worn each weekday morning, but not on the Sabbath or on most Jewish holidays. On the fast day of Tisha
Be'Av, and on that day only, they are put on during the afternoon instead of the morning service.
Among observant Jews, Tefillin is a mitzvah of the greatest significance. Recently, an eighty-nine-year-old rabbi
told me that, in the seventy-six years since his Bar Mitzvah, he had not missed putting on Tefillin even once. Since the Holocaust,
stories have circulated of Jews who managed to smuggle Tefillin into Nazi concentration camps and put them on each morning.
One Jewish group, the Lubavitcher Hasidim, have made a particular effort to promote the mitzvah of Tefillin among
Jewish males. They often set up vans, known as Mitzvah Mobiles, in neighborhoods frequented by Jews, and ask men who pass
by: "Are you Jewish?" If the answer is yes, they continue: "Did you put on Tefillin today?" If the person says, "No," they
invite him inside the van. First they put on the box that goes on his arm (for right-handed people, the Tefillin go on the
left arm; left-handed people wear them on the right arm) and wrap the strap around the arm seven times. Then the other box
is put on his head. They lead him in the recitation of the blessing over the Tefillin, and in certain other major prayers,
such as the Sh'ma.
In Jerusalem Lubavitcher Hasidim also are present every day, except the Sabbath, at the Western Wall (Kotel), encouraging
people to fulfill the rnitzvah of Tefillin.
Many years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe advised the world-famous sculptor Jacques Lipchitz to start wearing Tefillin
and to pray every morning. Lipchitz subsequently described the effect of these two acts on his life: "I daven [pray] every
morning. It is of great help to me. First of all, it puts me together with all my people. I am with them. And I am near to
the Lord, the Almighty. I speak with Him. I cannot make my prayers individual, but I speak to Him. He gives me strength for
the day.... I could not live anymore without it."
Tefillin are put on preparatory to morning prayers on days that are not Shabbat or a Torah-based Festival. The Torah-based
Festivals (when Tefillin are not put on) are: the first and last days of Pesach, Shavu'ot, Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, and
the first and last days of Sukkoth. (It follows that Tefillin ARE worn on Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah, Purim, and Yom ha-Atzma'ut
- unless any of these days fall on Shabbat.) On Chol ha-Mo'ed (the intermediate days of Pesach and Sukkoth) in the State of
Israel Tefillin are not worn. In the Diaspora there are
varying customs, so check out the custom in your locality. A rule-of-thumb could be that if you go to work (to earn a living)
on Chol ha-Mo'ed you put on Tefillin, otherwise you don't. Tefillin are also worn on Fast Days (except Yom Kippur). In theory
this includes Tisha b'Av; however, since Tefillin are considered an adornment, on Tisha b'Av we delay laying Tefillin until
the Afternoon prayers (Minchah).
Since the Tallit is worn on all the above occasions (i.e. on more occasions than the Tefillin), when we put on both
Tallit and Tefillin we put on the Tallit first.
When should we refrain from laying tefillin?
Tefillin, like mezuzot, should be periodically checked by a qualified sofer (scribe) to see that they are still in
a state of kashrut. Tradition says that Tefillin that are not worn on a regular basis should be checked twice every seven
years. If the blacking is flaking from the Tefillin or their straps they may not be used until re-blacked and checked.
If you are suffering from 'involuntary bodily secretions' (solids, liquids or gaseous) do not lay Tefillin until the
situation is once again normalized.
How do we lay tefillin?
It is written in the Torah: "And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand and they shall be as frontlets between
your eyes" (Deuteronomy 6:8). There are, therefore, three stages in the laying of tefillin: binding upon the arm, laying them
between the eyes, and creating with them a "sign" on the hand.
FIRST STAGE: Binding the Tefillin on the Arm
We place the "Hand-Tefillah" on the left arm. (The Hand-Tefillah is the one whose cubic box is smooth and not divided
up by lines.) Remove your wristwatch, your bracelet, and roll up your sleeves, as necessary. The Hand-Tefillah is to be placed
on the part of the arm called in Hebrew the "Kibboret". You can locate the "kibboret" by "making a muscle" on the left arm:
where the arm bulges is the "kibboret" and it is there that we shall lay the Hand-Tefillah when the time comes.
Take the Hand-Tefillah out of the bag, completely unwind the straps and remove the cover. Leave the Head-Tefillah
still inside the bag at this stage. Note the shape of the Hand-tefillah: its base is wider than the "bayit" - the cubic box,
and the upper part of the base forms a slot through which the strap has been threaded.
Hold the Hand-Tefillah in your right hand in such a way that the "bayit" is facing upwards, the slot (ma'abarta) is
the end nearest your body and the knot also is on the side nearest your body. Pull the strap open and widen it to form a large
loop. Pass your left arm through the loop, being careful to maintain the "bayit" facing upwards and the end with the slot
facing the upper arm. Slip the Hand-Tefillah up the arm and rest it on the "kibboret". Play with it until it is positioned
in such a way that it faces inwards towards your body ("opposite the heart").
Recite the following blessing: "Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheynu Melekh ha-olam, asher kiddeshanu be-mitzvotav, ve-tzivanu
le-hani'ach tefillin". If you wish to recite the blessing in English, say: "Blessed are You, Adonai, God and Ruler of the
Universe, Whose commandments make us holy, and Who commands us to lay Tefillin".
Immediately, pull the loop so that it closes tightly and "locks" the top of the Hand-Tefillah in place. The strap
should be quite tight, so that it will not loosen during worship - but not so tight, of course, that it causes undue discomfort!
It is most likely that until you acquire the expertise that comes with practice, when you close the loop the Hand-Tefillah
will move out of place: put it back in place and tighten the loop again - and again and again until you manage to get it right!
Take the strap in your right hand near to the Hand-Tefillah, with the blackened side uppermost. Wind the strap underneath
your arm and then over the top TOWARDS YOUR BODY - one twist above the elbow and seven twists, evenly spaced, between the
elbow and the wrist. These twists should also be quite tight, so that they will not loosen during worship as you move your
arm - but not so tight that they cause real discomfort.
Wind the remainder of the strap around the palm of your hand so that it won't hinder you during the next stage.
SECOND STAGE: Laying the Tefillin Between the Eyes
Take the Head-Tefillah out of the bag, loosen the strap completely and remove the cover. You will note that there
are differences between the Head-Tefillah and the Hand-Tefillah. Firstly, the "bayit" of the Head-Tefillah is divided into
four compartments, whereas the Hand-Tefillah is completely smooth. Secondly, the strap of the Head-Tefillah is knotted into
a loop which has two ends and not one..
Hold the strap of the Head-Tefillah with both hands in such a way as the loop is very wide and the two loose ends
are hanging downwards.
Recite the following blessing: "Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheynu Melekh ha-olam, asher kiddeshanu be-mitzvotav, ve-tzivanu
al mitzvat Tefillin. Barukh shem kevod malkhuto le-olam va-ed". If you wish to recite the blessing in English, say: "Blessed
are You, Adonai, God and Ruler of the Universe, Whose commandments make us holy, and Who commands us concerning Tefillin.
Blessed be that Sovereign Name for ever". Immediately after completing this blessing - with no interruption - lower the Head-Tefillah
onto your head.
Arrange the Tefillah on your head as follows: the double knot that makes the straps into a loop must be at the bottom
of the nape of the neck: there is a natural indentation there. The Head-Tefillah itself should be placed on the forehead in
such a way that the lower edge of the Tefillah lies on the hairline (or where the hairline would have been!) - where the hair
meets the forehead. It should NOT be placed on the forehead itself.
Make sure (use your finger or a small mirror or both) that the blackened side of the strap faces outwards all around
the head. Pull the two free ends of the strap over each shoulder and stretch them downward with a gentle tug, making sure
that the blackened side is outward facing here as well.
THIRD STAGE: Making a "Sign" Upon the Hand
Unwind the strap that you wound round the palm of your hand as far as the wrist. We are now going to make a "sign"
(the Hebrew letters Shin, Dalet and Yod, which make up the word "Shaddai", Almighty).
Hold your left hand stretched out palm downward. (If the strap around your arm has become loose you didn't wind it
tightly enough: do it again!) Bring the strap from the wrist underneath the hand (across the downfacing palm) as far as the
second finger from the thumb. Wind the strap round this finger three times - once beneath the lower joint and twice above
it, crossing over each other above the joint forming an X shape. Now bring the strap under the palm of the hand and wind it
over the third finger from the thumb, across the back of the hand to the angle formed where the thumb joins the hand.
We have already created the letters Dalet and Yod on the palm and the finger - don't stop to check! We are now going
to create across the back of the hand the shape of the letter Shin - something like this: \|/. Bring the strap under the palm
of the hand as far as where the back of the hand joins the wrist (on the side of the little finger) and then across the back
of the hand to the angle formed where the thumb joins the hand. Now bring the strap under the palm of the hand to the middle
of the hand and over the centre of the back of the hand back to the angle formed where the thumb joins the hand. Check that
you have now formed on the back of your hand the shape of the Hebrew letter "Shin"- something like this: \|/. If there is
yet more strap "left over" wind it continuously and neatly along the central arm of the "Shin" until there is just enough
left to tuck the end in firmly underneath, in the palm of the hand.
Recite: "Ve-eyrastikh li le-olam. Ve-eyrastikh li be-tsedek uve-mishpat uve-chesed uve-rachamim. Ve-eyrastikh li be-emunah,
ve-yada't et Adonai. If you wish to recite this quotation from the words of the prophet Hoshea in English, say: "I shall betroth
you to Me for ever; I shall betroth you to Me in equity, in justice, in love and in tenderness; I shall betroth you to Me
in faithfulness, and you shall be intimate with Adonai".
REMOVING THE TEFILLIN
Under normal circumstances the Tefillin should not be removed before the end of worship, and then they should be removed
before the Tallit. On Rosh Chodesh, however, the Tefillin should be removed before the Mussaf (Additional) service, and on
Chol ha-Mo'ed, where worn, they should be removed before reciting Hallel. On ordinary days, if you are in a hurry, you can
start to remove the Tefillin after reciting 'Alenu'. The Tefillin are removed after worship in the exact reverse order. Firstly,
undo the "Sign on the hand", next remove the Tefillah from the head, and lastly remove the Tefillah from the arm. Put the
cover back on the Head-Tefillah and wind the strap securely around it and place it in the bottom of the bag. Now put the cover
back on the Hand-Tefillah, wind the strap securely around it and place it in the bag in such a way as it will immediately
come to hand when you next open the bag.
Customs of Wearing a Prayer Shawl
There are several times during the service when it is customary to kiss the corner threads symbolically:
Prior to the reciting of "Hear Israel"
the corners of the prayer shawl are gathered together in one hand. At this time the corner threads should be checked to see
that they haven't become unraveled or untied. If you have checked that the four sets of corner threads have five knots on
each corner, you have done what is necessary.
Usually if there is a problem, it is that the last knot and some twists have come undone. The fourth and last section
of the corner threads of each corner has thirteen twists and then a double knot. Correct what has come unraveled. (For further
guidance refer to "The Tying of the Threads of a Prayer Shawl".)
During the recitation of the third paragraph of "Hear Israel" (Numbers 15:37-41) which mentions the threads three
times, each time the word "threads" is read, it is customary to kiss the corner threads.
When the Torah is removed from the Ark and carried
around the synagogue in procession, those within reach may touch the Torah mantle with the corner threads of their prayer
shawl or with a closed prayer book, if they are not wearing a prayer shawl. It is then customary to kiss the corner threads
or prayer book binding which touched the Torah scroll as an expression of love for the gift of Torah.
A prayer shawl is worn when making an Aliyah (blessing in front of the congregation before reading a section of the
Torah portion). If you use a prayer shawl only when making an Aliyah, you needn't say the blessing.
If you borrow a prayer shawl for the service, say the blessing:
"Baruch atah adonoi, elohenu, melech ha olam asher kidshanu b'mistzvotav ve-tzevanu layitatef b'tzitit"
"Blessed are you, the Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has made us holy with His commandments and commanded
us to wrap ourselves in fringes."
A prayer shawl is not worn in the rest room.
If you take the prayer shawl off for a short time, you don't need to repeat the blessing when putting it on again.
The prayer shawl is worn for morning prayer during the week, on Saturday morning, and on other holy days. It is not
worn for afternoon and evening prayers because of the commandment that one must see the corner threads and remember. (In ancient
times, seeing depended on the light of day).
The three exceptions to these general rules are that a prayer shawl is worn at the following evening services:
Evening Kol Nidre service of Yom Kippur
Evening service of Simchat Torah
Special Friday evening services that include a Torah reading.
Rabbis and cantors wear a prayer shawl when conducting services except funeral services.
The leader of the prayer service (shaliach tzibur) wears a prayer shawl in the afternoon and evening as well.
How to Don a Prayer Shawl
1. Open the prayer shawl and hold it in both hands so the neckband is facing you.
2. Recite the blessing:
"Baruch atah adonoi, elohenu, melech ha olam asher kidshanu b'mistzvotav ve-tzevanu layitatef b'tzitit"
"Blessed are you, the Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has made us holy with His commandments and commanded
us to wrap ourselves in fringes."
3. If the prayer shawl has the traditional blessing on the neckband, it is customary to kiss the end of the neckband
where the last word and the first word of the blessing are written.
4. Hold the prayer shawl over your head for a moment of private meditation.
5. Wrap the prayer shawl around your shoulders
Women Wearing Prayer Shawls
Because the commandment is to see the threads and remember the commandments, the commandment is time-related (to see
the threads in biblical times, one needed daylight, and therefore one had to perform the commandment during the daytime, making
the commandment time-related). In general, women do not have to perform commandments that are limited by time. This does not
mean that they cannot perform them. It is a matter of choice for women.
However there is also responsibility related to this choice. One should know what one is choosing. Because the prayer
shawl holds the threads that are there to remind the wearer of the 613 commandments, one should know what the commandments
are. Where one stands on the continuum of fulfillment of commandments is an individual matter. But one should be moving in
the direction of fulfillment of them.
The sole purpose of the prayer shawl is the bearing of the corner threads. It is very important that the corner threads
be tied correctly, and that they haven't become unraveled or untied.
If you use the prayer shawl and the corner threads are not tied correctly and completely, you are not performing the
commandment as was intended.
If you have checked that the four sets of corner threads have five knots on each corner, you have done what is necessary.
Usually if there is a problem, it is that the last knot and some twists have come undone. The fourth and last section of the
corner threads of each corner has thirteen twists and then a double knot. Women are permitted to tie the corner threads, so
you can correct what has come unraveled.
Refer to the section in Israelcraft entitled "The Tying of the Threads of a Prayer Shawl" to guide you further.
If you would prefer, ask your rabbi or someone in your congregation to help you, or call me, Marilyn Jackler, at Israelcraft,
and I will guide you.
Why did the Torah require the wearing of the blue threads?
Because the blue resembles sapphire, and the Tablets were of sapphire, so to gaze upon the blue threads would be a
reminder of that which is inscribed on the Tablets and a reminder to fulfill what is written there.
The Phoenicians were the ancient sea merchants of the Middle East and the traders of blue dye, which was centered
on the Mediterranean coast and famous throughout the ancient world. This blue dye was derived from snails and was so rare
and sought after that it was worth its weight in gold. It colored the robes of the kings and princes of Media, Babylon, Egypt,
Greece and Rome. To wear it was to be identified with royalty. Thus the blue thread was also a constant and conspicuous reminder
of the stature of Jews as noble sons of the King of the Universe.
Blue dye production slowly came under imperial control. The Romans issued edicts that only royalty could wear garments
colored with these dyes, and only imperial dye houses were permitted to manufacture it.
Because the blue dye became problematic, the commandment to have a thread of blue in each corner of the prayer shawl
was waived in the second century of the common era. With time the secret of producing the dye was also lost.
Recently there has been a revival of interest in the blue dye in Israel. A member of the Israel Fiber Institute has
published a number of articles on the subject, and a professor of the Shenkar College of Fibers has carried out chemical analysis
of the dye from present day snails as compared with samples from archeological artifacts dating back 3,200 years.
As a result of these and other efforts the threads are now again being produced in Israel.
The Tying of the Threads of a Prayer Shawl
(Note: The tying method below is not the one used for prayer shawls with a genuine blue thread included in the corner
threads. They are tied differently. If anyone has any questions or difficulties with the unraveling or untying of these corner
threads, or wants to know about the method of tying, they can contact me, Marilyn Jackler, through the Israelcraft website.
Anyone who has bought a prayer shawl with the genuine blue threads from Israelcraft also receives information that includes
the address of the manufacturer, who can give the best information on them.)
The white threads come in sets of 12 strings about 2 feet long, and 4 strings about 3 feet long. These will suffice
for the four corners of one prayer shawl. They must be divided into four sets, one for each corner, each with three shorter
strings and one longer string.
The longer string is the one you wrap around the others.
Even up the strings at one end and put them through the buttonhole in the center of the corner of the prayer shawl.
Double the four strands in half. You should be left with seven even strings and one long one.
1. Tie a double knot using all the strings.
2. Wrap the long strand around the other seven strands seven times.
3. Tie a double knot using all the strings.
4. Wrap the long strand around the other seven strands eight times.
5. Tie another double knot using all the strings.
6. Wrap the long strand around the other seven strands eleven times.
7. Tie another double knot using all the strings.
8. Wrap the long strand around the other seven strands thirteen times.
9. Make another double knot using all the strings.
There are Rabbinic reasons for every knot and twist.
The first two sets of windings (seven plus eight) equal fifteen. The third set of windings is eleven. Together they
come to twenty-six.
Every Hebrew letter has a numerical value (aleph is one, bet is two, etc.). The number twenty-six is equal to the
Hebrew letters YOD HAY VAV HAY. These letters form the Name of God.
Now the final thirteen wrappings (the last set) equals the Hebrew letters Alef Chet Dalet.
These make the Hebrew word "Echad," "One". So, whenever you look at the threads, you are reminded of "Hear of Israel,
the Lord is one".
Also, the number value for the Hebrew letters of the word for fringes is : 400 10 90 10 90. Together, 600. In each
fringe, there are eight threads plus five double knots.
Thus, whenever you look at the corner threads, you see 600 plus eight, plus five, which equals 613, which is the number
of commandments. So every time you look at the corner threads, you see a reminder of all of the commandments.
The rule of wearing threads on the corners of one's clothing is a commandment found in the Bible itself:
The Lord said to Moses:
Speak to the children of Israel and tell them to make fringes on the corners of their garments for all time; have
them attach a thread of blue to the fringe at each corner. And it shall be a fringe for you to see and remember all God's
good deeds and do them and stray not after your heart and after your eyes to sin. Remember and do all My commandments and
become holy to Your God. I am the Lord Your God who took you out of the land of Egypt to be Your God. I am the Lord Your God.
As a reminder of the blue thread which was once required in each corner of the prayer shawl, we traditionally include
either blue or black stripes in the prayer shawl itself.
The blue stripes in the Israeli flag was put there as a reminder of the blue stripe that was traditionally put in
the prayer shawl.
According to Jewish tradition, the act of putting on a prayer shawl has religious merit only if it is put on in the
light of day.
In the Book of Ruth there is a beautiful scene on the threshing floor. Boaz covers Ruth with a corner of his garment.
(In those times, the threads were attached to garments rather than to a prayer shawl and he covered her with a corner of his
garment that had the threads attached to it).
A prayer shawl found in the Bar Kochva caves (132 of the common era) has threads which are of indigo dye, which is
indistinguishable from the required blue dye, but not the correct dye prescribed for the making of the blue threads.
In the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, in the building which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is a small Bar Kochva
exhibit. In it, one can see the remains of that prayer shawl.
On the subject of Bar Kochva, anyone reading this and interested in Jewish history should look into this era if you
are not already familiar with it.
To summarize it, the Romans took control of the Mediterranean Area after the Greeks, and were far too great a foe
for the Jews. They destroyed the Second Temple in the 60th year of the Common Era.
Seventy-two years later the Jews tried to make a comeback, headed by Bar Kochva.
We have the dry climate of the Judaen desert to thank for the preservation of written documents and artifacts from
this heroic period of Jewish history. Jews struck motifs of the Second Temple Period coins over the Roman coin motifs of the
time. These Second Temple Period motifs included date palms, grapes, grape leaves, the palm frond, etrog, myrtle and willow,
the harp of that time, the Holy of Holies of the Second Temple, and the seven species: barley, wheat, date, olive, pomegranate,
grape and fig.
The coins of this period can be seen at the University of Haifa Hecht Museum in Haifa, Israel. The Hecht Museum also
houses an exhibit of the sea-faring Phoenicians where one can see examples of the sea snail (the chilazon in Hebrew) from
which the blue dye for the threads was made.
Defining the term, "threads": Menachot 41b, 42a
Whether the commandment is person-based, or garment-based: Shabbat 131a-b;
Menachot 41a, 42b
Whether having threads on all of the four corners constitutes four separate
commandments, or they are all necessary to fulfill a single commandment: Menachot
Not travelling 4 cubits without threads: Shabbat 118b
Doing the commandment with beautiful threads: Shabbat 133b
Whether Kohanim are obligated: Menachot 43a
Whether women are obligated: Succah 11a [See Rashi "LePirzuma"]; Menachot 43a
Whether blind people are obligated: Menachot 43a
When minors become obligated: Succah 42a
Whether slaves wear them: Menachot 43a
Putting them on a corpse before burial: Menachot 41a
Requiring that one separate the threads: Menachot 42a
The threads are items of a commandment, not items of intrisic holiness, and so
may be disposed of after their use is finished: Megillah 26b
The minimum size of such a garment: Menachot 40b-41a
Validity of threads for an undersized garment: Menachot 40b-41a
A borrowed garment: Menachot 44a
A garment which is entirely dyed blue: Menachot 38b, 41b
A garment with 5 corners: Menachot 43b
A garment with 3 corners: Menachot 43b
Making wool threads for a garment of flax: Menachot 39a, 39b-40b
Making flax threads for a garment of wool: Menachot 39b
A garment of various types of silk: Menachot 39b
A nighttime garment: Menachot 40b, 41a, 46a
A garment which is stored in a box, where it is [not] intended for eventual
wearing: Menachot 41a
A garment which has a corner, or some other part, made of leather: Menachot 40b
A garment which is currently folded in half, and not sewn up, partly sewn, or fully
sewn: Menachot 41a
If the garment is torn, more or less than 3 finger-breadths from the corner:
Attaching a section of another garment to this one: Menachot 41a
Threading the dyed threads on the intermediate days of holidays, in an
altered manner: Moed Katan 19a [2x]
Minimum/Maximum length of the threads: Menachot 41b-42a
Using stolen threads: Succah 9a
Using threads which already extend, as loose threads, from the garment:
Requiring that the threads be created with intent for use for the commandment: Succah
9a; Menachot 42b
Whether the material of the threads is determined by the material in the garment
["Min Kanaf"]: Menachot 38a, 38b, 39a, 39b
The validity of threads which are truncated, depending upon the size of the
remainder: Menachot 38b, 39a, 41b
Using threads of wool and linen: Menachot 39b
Using threads which will create, with the garment, a mixture of wool and linen, in
Jerusalem: Menachot 40a
Description of the snail from which the dye is taken: Menachot 44a
The snail from which the blue dye for threads is extracted, was
found in Zevulun's portion in Israel: Megillah 6a
Definition of the color of blue dye: R. Berachot 9b "Techelet"
How the dye is processed: Menachot 42b
The dye's color, as reminiscent of the sea, which reminds of the heavens,
which reminds of the Divine Throne: Menachot 43b
The White Threads
Dyeing the "white" threads to be the same color as the garment: Menachot 41b
The white as threads he holier threads: Menachot 39a [See Rashi]
Whether threads are valid without white threads: Menachot 38a-b
Whether white threads must precede the blue, or this is just the ideal
format: Menachot 38a-b
It is worse to not have the white threads than to not have the blue-dyed
threads, because the white threads are easier to get: Menachot 43b
Whether one makes a blessing on making threads: Menachot 42a
Using threads which were connected to the garment beforehand: Succah
9a, 11a-b; Menachot 40b [2x]
Moving threads from one article of clothing to another: Pesachim 101a;
Threads made by a gentile: Menachot 42a-b
Whether one may sell theads to a gentile, and why there should be a
concern: Menachot 43a
Dyeing the blue thread with intent for the sake of the commandment: Eruvin
96b; Menachot 42b
Making a blessing on each donning of threads: Menachot 43a
The Lord puts one who doesn't wear threads in ex-communication: Pesachim
Reward for care in commandment of threads: Shabbat 118b
One should always be wearing threads: Shabbat 153a
Exemption of a merchant of threads from other commandments while engaged in
marketing the threads: Succah 26a
Wearing invalid threads outside on Shabbat: Shabbat 139b; Menachot 37b-38a
Six million Jews, including one and a half million children, were murdered in the Holocaust - a systematic
genocide of one third of the entire Jewish population.
Holocaust Day is a day to remember the victims - those that survived, and the many more who did not. It is
also a day to recall what human beings are capable of doing to one another. Holocaust Day falls on Tuesday April 9, 2002.
We memorialize the Holocaust for the sake of those that were murdered, those that survived and for our own
sake. As George Santayana wrote: "Those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it."
AMCHA, Israeli Centers for Holocaust Survivors and the Second Generation, is a remarkable organization that
offers psychotherapy, groups services, support groups, clubs for the aging survivor and volunteer services to homebound survivors.
How could it happen? The Allied soldiers who entered the camps in 1945 as well as stunned visitors to Holocaust
museums today asked themselves, "How could such things occur in the world?" "How could it go so far? Why weren't they stopped?
Why didn't they stop themselves?
To answer that question is beyond the scope of this site. We leave that to the Sages and Philosophers -- and
to God Himself. As it says in Deuteronomy (29:28), "The hidden things belong to God . . . and the revealed ones are for us
and our children. . . .
A brief outline of the history of the Holocaust: some of the events preceding it, the progression of the maelstrom,
and the post-war struggles that the survivors faced.
Smoldering Embers: Germany
German anti-Semitism had a long history prior to the emergence of the Nazi party. The winds of hate blew for
many years before the Nazis entered to stir up the smoldering coals.
Nazis Triumphant: 1930-1939
In 1930, the National Socialist party became the second largest in Germany. The next nine years saw their tightening hold on the minds and hearts
of the nation, and the darkening of the fortunes of Europe's Jews.
Engulfed in Flames: The War Years, 1939-1945
When war broke out in 1939, the Jews of Europe were completely vulnerable.
Hitler's troops rolled across Europe, consuming every Jewish community it their path. The
bonfire reached the sky.
Aftermath: Life from the Ashes
1945 saw the end of the war, but not the end of the Holocaust. Thousands of survivors continued to die from
disease, mistreatment and the neglect of nations who turned away from them. Miraculously, from the ashes, the survivors rose
to build new lives
Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day, is a relatively recent addition to the Jewish calendar. Its observances
are still evolving, with very different approaches taken and little agreement on the best way to mark the day.
In Israel, Yom HaShoah,
is an official holiday. In the Diaspora, more Jews have taken to observing this memorial day, as a way of deepening their
understanding and connection to the tragedy.
Yom HaShoah V'HaGevurah: Israel
Yom HaShoah begins in the evening, according to the Jewish calendar. Throughout Israel, all places of entertainment are closed, except those featuring special
programs on the Holocaust. In the evening a siren is sounded throughout the country, and all stand for two minutes of silence
to reflect upon the tragedy.
Yad Vashem, the national organization for Holocaust research and education, hosts programs each year. Generally
schools present special programs for the students on the Holocaust and related issues.
Ceremonies usually feature the lighting of memorial candles, and a presentation by a survivor. Sometimes memorial
prayers are recited, and poems, writing, and other artwork of victims of the Holocaust are displayed. Often names of victims
are read aloud, along with programs on the destroyed Jewish communities of the Holocaust.
Outside of Israel, the
Holocaust has become a more familiar concept to Jews and non-Jews, through the publication of hundreds of books, the erection
of museums and memorials, and even through popular films and t.v. series. As the importance of remembering the tragedy has
been emphasized, more and more people are using Holocaust Memorial Day as a time for learning and reflecting on the Holocaust.
Many Jewish communities host their own ceremonies, contact leaders of your own community to find out what your community has
planned this year.
For those who don't have the opportunity to participate in a communal ceremony, Yom HaShoah can be a time
for personal introspection, for lighting candles, for memorial prayers, and for learning the history of the Holocaust.
Beyond just remembering the victims of the Holocaust, we can also consider how we can strengthen Jewish life
and community. Hitler's goal, to destroy Jewish life from the planet, and the assistance he received from so many sources,
should strengthen our resolve, not to grant him a posthumous victory. The Arch of Titus boasts of the Roman conquest and destruction
of the Jewish nation, while the ancient Romans have vanished from the face of the earth. We must work so that when those that
initiated and participated in the Holocaust are disappeared from the world's stage, the Jewish people will continue in dignity
to play their role in history.
Yizkor: Memorial Prayer for the Departed of the Holocaust
May God remember the souls of all the communities of Israel in the European Diaspora who were sacrificed on
the altar during the years of the Holocaust (1939-1945): six million men and women, boys and girls, young men and women, infants
and the elderly, who were cruelly slain and butchered, and mass murdered in their dwellings places and cities, and in the
forests and villages.
Those surviving were brought like sheep to the slaughter to the concentration camps where they died unnatural
deaths, and were burned to ashes in the furnaces of the terrible camps of destruction in Germany and Poland, and in the rest
of the occupied countries, at the hands of the murderous German people and their Allies, all of whom were of one counsel to
annihilate, kill, and utterly destroy the Jewish people, to wipe out the memory of Judaism, and to erase any association with
the name Israel.
God of vengeance, Judge of the Earth, remember the streams of blood that were spilled like water, the blood
of fathers and sons, mothers and sucklings, rabbis and their students, and repay the oppressors of your people seventy times
Do not silence the scream of "Shema Yisrael!" uttered by those who were taken to their death, and let the
groan of the afflicted ascend before the throne of your glory. Avenge, speedily in our days, before our eyes, the blood of
your pure and sanctified sons and daughters who were never had the privilege to be buried as Jews As it is written: "For He
will avenge the blood of His servants, and vengeance he will serve on their oppressors, and He will atone the Land of His
Prayer for the Departed:
El Malei Rachamim
O God, full of mercy, who dwells on high,
Grant proper rest on the wings of the Divine Presence
In the lofty levels of the holy and pure,
Who shine like the glow of the firmament -
For the souls of the Six Million Jews, victims of the European Holocaust
Who were killed, slaughtered, burned and wiped out
For the Sanctification of the Name
By the murderous Germans and their allies,
Because, without making a vow,
All the community will pray
For the uplifting of their souls.
Therefore, may the Master of mercy
Shelter them in the shelter of His wings for eternity;
And may He bind their souls in the Bond of Life.
The Lord is their heritage.
And may their resting-place be in the Garden of Eden,
And may they reach their destiny at the end of days.
And let us say Amen.
Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day, is a day to remember those who lost their lives fighting for the State of Israel. In recent years, Yom HaZikaron has been expanded to
include civilians killed by terror attacks as well. This year, 2002, Yom HaZikaron begins at nightfall of 15 April and continues
through April 16 (Iyar 4, 5762). Throughout the world, but especially in Israel,
the day is carefully spent in reflection of the human cost of the wars fought for the State of Israel,
and in a careful evaluation of the achievements of the modern-day State of Israel
over the past year.
Israel is a small country in which almost
everyone serves in the army. And if everyone is a soldier, most Israelis have either a relative or friend who was killed fighting
for Israel. In such a small country, smaller
than the State of New Jersey, people feel the pain of each
soldier killed acutely. When 73 young soldiers were killed in the helicopter crash of February 1997, the whole country mourned.
Each 18 or 19 year-old face on the cover of the newspaper calls to mind a son, a friend, a son's friend.
How do we remember? In Israel, and in the Diaspora, there are several ways. Learn about one family's sacrifice, and
reflect on what the soldiers of Israel have given to all of us.
A minute of silence will be observed in Israel on the evening of April 15 at 8:00pm and two minutes at 11:00am the
following day (Israel Time).
Yom HaZikaron is a solemn day in Israel. On this day, the eve of Israel's Independence celebrations, the Israeli people
and Jews around the world, take time out to pay their dues to those who payed with their lives for our land. For some, Yom
Hazikaron comes once a year, but for who have lost their loved ones, it is a constant state of existence. Here are the latest
statistics from the Israeli Defence Ministry:
The number of IDF (Israel Defence Force) fallen from November 1947 until today is 19,312.
The number of fallen between prior to 28.11.47 (non- IDF personnel) is 1,593.
The number of fallen in Israel's wars from 1860 until the present day is 20,906. (This number includes disabled IDF
veterans who later died from their wounds and non- IDF personnel who fell in the line of duty).
There are 83,962 disabled veterans.
The total population of bereaved families and disabled IDF veterans cared for by the Defense Ministry Rehabilitation
department numbers is currently 97,206.
Remembering Israel's Soldiers
Yom HaZikaron is a solemn day in Israel. On the evening preceding the day, a
siren wails, and everything stops for one minute. The country grinds to a halt. Traffic stops, drivers get out of their cars
and stand at attention at the side of their vehicles. Pedestrians freeze where they are on the sidewalk. An eerie stillness
is broken only by the dull sound of the siren.
This is repeated the next day, in the morning. Most employers offer it as an optional day off work.
In military cemeteries throughout the country, special services are held in honor of the fallen soldiers. Generally,
memorial torches are lit, speeches said, and then the families and friends are left alone with their dead. The graveyards
are filled with weeping parents, friends, spouses. Adults try to describe to children the special brother, father, uncle,
they have never known. People who have been fortunate enough not to have lost relatives in Israel's wars visit graveyards
simply in order to remember those who gave their lives so that the State of Israel could live. Indeed, in many respects, they
consider the fallen to be a part of their own family. As they read the tombstones of those who fell in battle, they pay tribute
to each soldier as a hero, each with a story of his or her own. Baruch Shapiro was one such hero, an 18 year old survivor
of the Shoah, who fell in the War of Independence defending Jerusalem in 1948. Read his story.
So many names, so many young lives cut short: the memories are cherished across the years, but are especially vivid
on this day, when the nation marks the tremendous human sacrifice for the sake of the Jewish State. By mid-afternoon on Yom
HaZikaron, most of the visitors have gone home, to continue their mourning in private.
As we stand at the brink of the celebration of fifty-four years since the establishment of the State of Israel, Yom
Hazikaron reminds us of the high human cost of the wars Israel has fought for its very survival, indeed for the very right
to exist. Only with the darkness of human loss, came the light of victory, and the dawn of hope for the Jewish people. It
is this transition from a day of sadness and reflection to one of triumph and hope that so characterizes the Jewish psyche,
and that is so poignantly reflected in the change of mood as night falls. Out of the ashes of the memories of Yom Hazikaron
come the buoyant celebrations of Israel's Independence Day, Israel's fifty-fourth...Join our celebrations!
In the Diaspora
How can someone living outside of Israel best mark Israel's Memorial Day?
The majority of Jews around the world continue to look to the modern-day State of Israel with hope and pride, as they
have done since the establishment of the State fifty-four years ago. Feeling their destiny to be inextricably bound with that
of the Jewish State, they recognize the huge sacrifice made by those who lost their lives fighting for the State of Israel,
and the price they and their families have paid so that Israel could flourish as a nation in its own right.
It says in the Talmud, "Kol Yehudim aruvim zeh leh zeh." "All Jews are
responsible for one another." In this vein, those outside Israel feel that Israel's loss is their loss too.
Ways to mark the day outside of Israel include lighting memorial candles, giving tzedaka, or charity, or learning
on behalf of the deceased. Some learn Torah in the memory of a particular soldier, study history (either of the Jewish state,
or of Jewish history in general), or spend some time reflecting upon how the sacrifices of Israel's soldiers affect them and
the direction their own lives are taking.
The Never-Ending Story
by Stewart Weiss
reprinted from The Jerusalem Post of April 20, 1996
You might walk past it a thousand times - even tread directly upon it - and yet you would probably never take note
of it. Amid the silent hills and grassy quietude of Mt. Herzl, a gentle spring wind blows over the grave of one Baruch Shapiro.
Barely an echo of his name remains. But the story of Baruch Shapiro, now itself buried by the years, begs to be retold.
For his story mirrors the struggle of a whole people, encapsulating what it means to live - and die - as a proud Jew
in the modern State of Israel. Baruch was the last remaining son of Chaim Shapiro, native of Cracow and survivor of Auschwitz.
By a combination of faith, strength, and luck, Chaim lived through the unspeakable hell of the death camp, emerging from it
along with his son Baruch. Chaim's wife and five other sons were less fortunate. They perished together with the multitudes
of Jews we now refer to as the Six Million.
In a pitiful state, confused and shattered, father and son came here, along with thousands of other remnants of the
ovens, to build a new life and restore hope. But their dream of piecing together a new beginning would have to be delayed.
Arriving on the shores of Palestine, young Baruch - now 18 years old - was handed a gun and a uniform, and drafted into what
would become the Israel Defense Forces.
There were those who planned to finish what the Nazis had begun, and a new war was about to erupt. Chaim watched his
son go off to war along with the other young men, and he tried to put his fears and foreboding out of his mind, busying himself
with the difficult task of hewing out a place in the gritty new country now battling for its first breaths of air.
It was in the latter stages of the War of Independence that Baruch Shapiro fell, on the road to Ierusalem, defending
the capital. He had distinguished himself throughout the war, and died guarding his post from enemy advance. When a young
captain informed Chaim of the death of his son, the father uttered not a word. He simply nodded silently and folded the official
notification over and over in his hand.
Many hundreds of friends and comrades came to Baruch's funeral. The chief of staff was also there, for he had heard
of the young man's distinguished service in his unit. An overwhelming sense of loss had pervaded the day, for those assembled
knew of the unique circumstances of the Shapiro family and wished to demonstrate their solidarity with the aging father whose
family line had come to a sudden, tragic end.
During the brief ceremony, Chaim remained silent. He listened impassively as the appropriate Psalms and prayers were
recited and as Baruch's commanding officer eulogized him as an exemplary soldier. But when the flag-draped body was lowered
into the grave, Chaim Shapiro suddenly began to sing, quietly at first, then more loudly. He sang "Am Yisrael Hai" over and
over. Then he began to dance, grabbing some of Baruch's friends and pulling them into a Hora. The crowd looked on in horror,
sure the father had lost his mind. Clearly the enormity of the loss of his last remaining child had finally pushed him over
the brink. Those standing closest to Chaim tried to calm him down, to console him. The Chief of Staff put his arms around
him and urged him to sit down. But Chaim pushed the general away, and carried on singing and dancing.
After several minutes, the elderly man turned to the crowd and began to speak: "I am sure you think I have gone quite
mad," he began "But I assure you that I am in complete control of my faculties. I know you think it outrageous that I should
sing at my boy's burial, but I want to explain why nothing could be more appropriate."
The crowd stood mesmerized. "You see," the father went on, "When the rest of my family were murdered in Poland by
the Germans, their lives ended in silence. They vanished, in the wink of an eye. They were snuffed out like candles, and no
one saw or heard. No one took notice of who they were, what they had done, or what their lives had meant."
"To live and die in Poland was an empty and barren experience, containing only sadness and regret. It was a waste
of precious life. But this son," Chaim continued, pointing at the grave, "This son is different. Baruch lived to walk upon
the holy earth of Eretz Yisrael, and he died defending Jerusalem -- Jerusalem! a place we never dreamed we would see in our
lifetimes. Baruch gave his life for all the people of Israel, so they could be free, and safe, and independent."
"That is not the waste of a life. It is the celebration of a life - and that is why I sing today, as I say Shalom
to my son. And that is why all of you should sing with me."
With that, Chaim Shapiro began to sing "Am Yisrael Hai" once more, and the assembled throng began to join in, until
every voice in the cemetery was raised in a surrealistic song of sadness and joy, the tears of each emotion mingled on every
face. For a long time they sang thus together, until the hills of Jerusalem themselves seemed to be joining in the chorus.
You might walk past the grave of Baruch Shapiro a thousand times - even tread directly upon it - and probably take
no notice. A gentle wind blows on the grave, and the story of Baruch Shapiro is no more than a fading memory, a distant echo.
But the epic story of the Jewish people goes on, unabated. It is a story written in the blood of our young men and women,
on pages of pain and heroism, engraved in stone with quills of iron will. That story describes a profound stoicism and suffering,
one that that cannot be contained. It must inevitably burst out into song and dance, until we all affirm: Am Yisrael Hai.