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Section: Taryag Mitzvos   Category: Insight
Parshas Bo: Tying Our Tefilin Because We Miss Daddy
I still recall the scene well. Each and every bar mitzvah bochur who put Tefillin on for the first time received the identical bracha from our principal: “Mazal Tov to _________ on the occasion of his putting on Tefillin for the first time. Our bracha is that the Tefillin should go into his mind, his heart and his bloodstream, he should grow up to be a Yerei Shomayaim and a Ba’al Midos.” While many of us are years away from that first time of “Tefillin-leigin”, we all smile when we see a new, 13-year old bochur joining the ranks of Torah adults and reminisce about the special moment it was for us on our first time. It would be essential, though, to discuss why putting on Tefillin can indeed still be very meaningful and special, even if you are years away from the initial excitement of the first time.

While the mitzvah of Tefillin, introduced in our parsha, is designated to help us remember the nissim that were performed for us in Mitzrayim, it is actually a mitzvah that pulls us through the long galus that we are currently in and provides us with a yearning for our relationship with the Ribbono Shel Olam. To express this idea, we will begin with a Rashi in Sefer Devarim (11:18), where Rashi says that even in galus, it is imperative to keep doing mitzvos – such as tefillin and mezuzah – in order that it should not be alien to you when you come back to Eretz Yisroel. Many meforshim are puzzled by this Rashi – these mitzvos that are enumerated are actually a Chovas Haguf, incumbent on everyone, regardless of their location at a particular time. How can Rashi instruct us to do them merely on the grounds of not forgetting how to do them?  

Rashi is telling us is the underlying theme of Tefillin and mezuzah. We know that our Tefillin pay homage to the Oneness of Hashem (which is the parsha of mezuzah, as well) while Hashem’s Tefillin (kaviyochol) pay homage to the uniqueness of Klal Yisroel. This is the carry over of Ani L’dodi v’dodi li, expressed throughout the year in so many different ways. How do we truly express our love to Hashem in galus? We have no house for Him, His people are not in their land and the avoda is on a much lower level than it can potentially be. The antidote for this is Tefillin. Our Tefillin reminds us of the “Ahavas Kelulosayich”, the love that we once shared so intimately with the Ribbono Shel Olam. It tells of the fact that Hashem is One and we display this for all nations to see. Despite the many forces vying for our attention, it is placed on the very top of our head and heart to make them subservient to His word above all else and block out all the other distractions. When performed optimally, we do not allow the mitzvah to leave our minds for even a moment, constantly caressing it and kissing it. And when we complete its placement on our hand, we tie it around our finger and proclaim how we are betrothed to Hashem forever.  

The Gemara in Shabbos says that a child who has yearning for his father ties a band around his finger on the left hand. Homiletically, we can explain this to express the idea that Tefillin channel our desperate yearning for K’vod Malchuso Yisbarach, and we tie our hand with the band to show our hearts and mind is with Him. It is this idea that we need so desperately in the galus. The idea that until the geula arrives, Hashem watches and protects us in our homes and is with us “in our minds, our hearts and our bloodstreams”.  

L’zchus Boruch ben Miriam

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