"And it shall be for a sign upon your hand, and for frontlets between your eyes". (Ex. 13:16) This commandment is considered in a different fashion, since it is not considered [only] a commandment but [also] a matter of holiness [for the parchments within them are the secret of mochin and are called 'holy']. And these [signs and frontlets – Ed.] are the Tefilin — the hand Tefilin and the head Tefilin, for they are a rectification of glory and splendor of variegated supernal colors. Therefore they are called "frontlets" [lit. adornments] as is written: "Israel, in whom I will be glorified". (Isaiah 49:3)

It is written: "When Israel was a youth, then I loved him"; (Hosea 11:1) [this verse refers to] small Israel [while still 'young', in exile in Egypt] and [the verse] "Hear, O Israel" refers to older Israel ['Saba', lit. grandfather], splendorous in color Above and below. [In reference to beauty, thus] Joseph rises up and is adorned with two colors [white and red, signifying chesed and gevura, thereby combining with malchut]. At first, he [yesod, before its rectification, is called] a 'youth', and in the end he is 'righteous'. How beautiful the colors appear in him. This is the secret of: "And Joseph was good looking and well favored". (Gen. 39:6) He was fair on both sides [right and left], on two levels, in two colors [white and red], Above [in Zeir Anpin] and below [Nukva/malchut].

It is written: "And you shall do that which is correct and good". (Deut. 6:18) "Correct" refers to the hand Tefilin [related to malchut] to draw it [down] through the head Tefilin [related to Zeir Anpin] so that they shall become [combined into] one. The hand Tefilin precedes [i.e. is put on before] the head Tefilin, and there must be no separation at all [by hesitation or interruption] between them [between placing the hand Tefilin and then the head Tefilin].

One who is crowned with Tefilin exists in the secret of supernal colors [as those Above, as he has combined tiferet with malchut] and exists in these two secrets we mentioned, like Joseph, who is called a 'youth' and also called 'tzadik/Righteous', in the secret of a faithful servant [by causing the flow of yesod to malchut] and the secret of an only son. These are the hand Tefilin and the head Tefilin. They are both actually one principle without separation.

The four passages [of Scripture] that are in the Tefilin are in four compartments in the head Tefilin [for tiferet receives from chochma and bina, chesed and gevura] And the same four passages in the head Tefilin are also in the hand Tefilin, [but] all in one compartment. This is because the hand Tefilin has nothing of its own but what it receives from Above [like malchut, which has nothing of its own except what it receives from tiferet, and receives all 4 mentalities at one time.]This is the secret meaning of: "All the rivers run into the sea ['sea' referring to malchut]" (Eccl. 1:7) because it receives them from Above [from tiferet at the time of combining]; it is called Tefilin [meaning prayer] and is sanctified with their holiness. It is called 'Holiness' and it is called 'Tefilin', and it is called malchut, [when they are combined together,] 'the Complete Kingdom of Heaven'.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this section? What do they want us to learn?

We are ordained to carry signs of G‑d upon us daily on our hand and on our head. And these must be more than spiritual signs, for we must actually place Tefilin on our hand and head to fulfill the sacred order. [On days that themselves are "signs", such as Shabbat and Festivals, the spiritual sign suffices and the physical presence of Tefilin is not necessary.]

A sign is an indicator. It alerts us to proper direction and focus. If we ignore the sign, we are in danger. If we follow the sign, we are promised success in our path. Hand stands for service of the heart, for the hand Tefilin is placed on the arm across from the bicep. Head stands for service of the intellect, where the head Tefilin is placed on the forehead above the hairline, dead center, centering our thoughts towards holiness. The problem for many of us arises when these signs are removed. What then do we do to maintain the connection? The law states that we may not remove our attention when wearing the Tefilin. How would life be if this law also applied to our entire life. I place G‑d before me means that I am balanced before Him. How can we insure a proper balance at all time, at all places?

What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed to you at this time?


Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org, a project of Ascent of Safed (//ascentofsafed.com). All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.