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Phylacteries

The second fundamental principle of Judaism is the wearing of phylacteries; termed by some writers Tataphoth, or ornaments, and refer to the law and commandments, as "Bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine head" (Proverbs ini, 3; vi, 21, and viii, 3). The phylacteries are worn on the forehead and arm, and are called in Hebrew Tephillin, from Palal, meaning to pray. These consist of two leathern boxes. One contains four compartments, in which are enclosed four portions of the law written on parchment and carefully folded. The box is made of leather pressed upon blocks of wood specially prepared, the leather being well soaked in water. The following passages of the Law are sewn into it: Exodus xiii, 1-10, 11-16. Deuteronomy vi, 4-9; xi, 13-21. On this box is the letter if, pronounced shin, with three strokes for the right side, and the same letter with four strokes for the left side of the wearer. The second box has but one compartment, into which the same passages of Scripture are sewed with the sinews of animals, specially prepared for this object. The phylacteries are bound on the forehead and arm by long leathern straps.

The straps on the head must be tied in a knot shaped like the letter is, daleth. The straps on the arm must go round it seven times, and three times round the middle finger, with a small surplus over in the form of the letter as, yod. Thus we have the Shaddai, or Almighty. The phylacteries are kept in special bags, with greatest reverence, and the Rabbis assert "that the single precept of the phylacteries is equal to all the commandments."

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