What are Tefillin? (Phylacteries in English)
For almost four thousand years Jews have been putting on Tefillin. Tefillin are two cubic black leather boxes with black straps attached that Jewish men wear on their head and their arm during weekday morning prayer. Jewish men are required to place one box on their head and tie the other one on their arm each weekday morning except on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
It is an obligation for all Jewish males over the age of Bar Mitzvah (thirteen years old) when Jewish men mark their rite of passage into adulthood. Putting on Tefillin is one the first mitzvahs assumed by a Jewish male upon his Bar Mitzvah.
The boxes contain four hand-written texts from the Torah. The hand Tefillin has all four texts written on a single parchment strip but the head Tefillin has four separate compartments with a single text in each.
During all the years of Jewish existence, the Tefillin have constituted one of the principal symbols of Judaism. Tefillin have kept us company during our wanderings, even to the four corners of the earth - both on the tranquil waters of peace, and on the stormy seas of tragic times when Jews sacrificed their lives in order to live according to the Torah and be worthy of their name. Always, in every place and at all times, Jews have guarded their Tefillin with courage and pride, and the Mitzvah of Tefillin has in turn guarded the Jews.
Tefillin connect the head and heart empowering you to successfully maneuver your way through life. It unifies the heart and mind, creating harmony and tranquility in your world and has been bound in the hearts of Jews for millennia.