Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Does G-d Wear Tefillin?
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013 02:55:37 PM
Number of views: 2519

The Talmud in (Brachot 6a) states, " That G-d Wears Tefillin". However, one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith of the Rambam states that G-d has no physical body, so how does He "wear" Tefillin? To answer this question, we must ask another, because a Jew answers a question with a question. The question is why do we pray?

We are accustomed to regard prayer as a person either praising G-d or requesting something from Him. But, G-d knows precisely and exactly what we require, and He doesn't need our praise. Thus, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, in his Nefesh HaChaim (Ch. 2), presents a profound and intriguing aspect of prayer. Given the special loving relationship between G-d and His people, when Israel is in pain, G-d suffers too. As it says in Tehillim 91:15 "I (G-d) am with him (Israel) in all suffering." That's why G-d first appeared to Moshe in a burning thorn bush to symbolize that He identifies with our pain.

Prayer then assumes a most unique role in that a person prays not only for the alleviation of his own suffering, but for that of G-d as well. The Mishnah (Sanhedrin 46a) expresses this idea in the following dramatic way, Rabbi Meir taught that when a sinner is executed, G-d Himself complains that His head and arm hurt, as it were. The Mishnah continues that if He suffers even when the wicked are punished, then how much more so does He feel the suffering of the righteous

What, however, is the meaning of His "head and arm hurt"? Reb Chaim of Volozhin explains that just as a Jew dons tefillin to express his appreciation of the fact that G-d has a loving relationship with Israel, similarly, the Talmud (Brachot 6a) teaches,

G-d, as well, "dons" tefillin, as it were, to symbolize that He and Israel are bound together. This is the meaning of the cryptic statement in (Brachot 7a) that G-d showed Moshe the knot of His tefillin.

The Talmud there teaches that the passages contained in G-d's tefillin speak of the greatness and uniqueness of the Jewish People. Just as the passages in our tefillin speak of the greatness and uniqueness of G-d, so too the concept of G-d's "tefillin" symbolizes His love for His people. This is the meaning of the verse in Shir Hasirim, "Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li", "I am always praising my beloved, and my beloved is always praising me". The "knot of tefillin" that He showed Moshe symbolized that He wishes to remain attached to Israel, and by showing it to Moshe, He signified His love for him. The "knot of the tefillin" represents the love knot that ties and binds Israel and

G-d together for all eternity. When this knot is loosened by our sins, G-d's "head and arm", the parts of the body upon which the tefillin are worn, are where He feels pain, as it were.

Prayer is thus man's expression of concern for G-d's suffering, and a prayer that His Name be sanctified. Thus, Shmeul Aleph, Ch.1:10 states, "Chana prayed Al (for) G-d, and not El (to) G-d. Due to Chana's barrenness, G-d suffered along with her as He does with all of Am Yisrael. This is our greatest consolation in these trying and troubled times.

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