Link: The Forms of the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet as used for writing holy words – of a Torah scroll, Tefillin,* and Mezuzot *
Copyright © 2003 Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Berger. All Rights Reserved.
|Alef - I will teach
Beit - Binah: understanding
sounds like the English word 'bate'
Gimmel - Gomel: He compensates
Dalet - Dalim: the impoverished
DAH let, DAH led
Heh - The second and fourth letters of the
Also, clear breathing
Vav - The third letter of the
Zayin - He sustains
|from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat: 104a.|
Alef-Beit - AH leff BAYT
Tefillin - t' fee LEEN; in ordinary speach:
t' FILL in.Tefillin - “Hear, O Israel, the L-rdis our G-d,the L-rdis One.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)“These words that I am commanding you today shall be upon your heart. . . .Fasten them on your hand as a sign, and they will be an ornament [on your head] between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:6,8).
- These words - “Hear, O Israel . . .”
- shall be upon your heart - One way to do this is to put on the Tefillin every weekday.
- as a sign - during the day, when people can see them.
- What constitutes the Tefillin? - “These words” from the Torah, written exactly as they appear in a Torah Scroll. Write this paragraph (and three other paragraphs) like a narrow Torah Scroll that is only four lines high. (This strip of parchment is about one inch high and as long as necessary to contain the four paragraphs.)
- written exactly as they appear in a Torah Scroll - Adhering to the forms of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet as used for writing holy words. On this page, I've shown the holy forms of the first seven letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
- on your hand - Not the palm of the hand. On the upper arm
- upon your heart - where it faces your heart.
- Tefillin - a plural Hebrew word. One tefilah is tied to an arm facing the heart – they “shall be upon your heart,”
- and one tefilah is fastened to the head above the forehead like a crown.
- How does one place such a parchment on an arm and on the head? The parchments are placed in two cubical boxes of leather that are painted black. Black leather thongs run through an edge of each box, and the thongs are wrapped around an arm and around the sides of the head – again like a crown.
- between the eyes - Not literally. Above the forehead, centered between the eyes.
- an ornament - This word does not appear anywhere else in the Torah. The Oral Torah – the oral tradition from Moses through the generations – takes this word to contain all the details that I outlined, and more.
- an ornament - From the outside it's simple and uncolored (to the extent that one ordinarily doesn't consider black as a color). The actual ornament is inside – “These words that I am commanding you today.”Mezuzot - m' zoo ZOHT; in ordinary speach: m' ZOO zohs. Singular, mezuzah:
m' zoo ZAH.Mezuzot - “These words that I am commanding you today shall be upon your heart. . . .You will write them on the doorposts of your house . . .”(Deuteronomy 6:6,9).
- These words - “Hear, O Israel . . .”
- shall be upon your heart - One way to do this is to affix Mezuzot on the doorposts of your house.
- Mezuzot on the doorpost - In Hebrew, the word mezuzot means doorposts. An element of the Jewish tradition is to use the same word for both the object that
G-dcommands us to make as well as for the doorpost where we affix this object.
- You will write them - exactly as they appear in a Torah scroll, just like the paragraphs for the Tefillin.
- You will write them on the doorposts of your house - Not literally. “You will write them in such a way so that you can fasten them on the doorposts of your house.”
- You will write them - Only the paragraphs that specifically state, “on the doorposts of your house.”
- You will write them - just as you wrote the paragraphs for your Tefillin.
- doorposts - One Mezuzah (singular) on only one doorpost.
- doorposts of your house - is a way of saying, in Hebrew, “a doorpost of each of your houses.” However, to write the verse this way sounds as though the obligation is only for someone who has two or more houses.
- Fasten them by wrapping them or placing them a tube, and then gluing or nailing the wrapping to the doorpost. Don't ruin the parchment.What about people who are not Jewish? - Someone who is not Jewish should not put on tefillin or put up a mezuzah in their doorway. “As a sign” includes the idea that Jews are putting signs on their bodies and on their houses to show that they are members of
G-d'scovenant with the Jewish people. It's misleading for someone who is not Jewish to display these signs.