Shabbat Shalom, HaNegev!
I hope everyone had a fantastic long weekend.
Ki Teizei, this week’s parsha, states that “No male garment shall be upon a woman nor any woman’s garment be upon a man.” I guess that means you could call me a rule breaker: if you asked me one week ago if I had ever worn tefillin, I would say no. But, now that a week has passed, I would have to change my answer. This weekend, I attended International USY Fall Boards Weekend. There was a program Sunday morning where girls who had never worn tefillin before were encouraged to try it. I decided to take the opportunity.
When I first heard that I would have the chance to wear tefillin for the first time, I was nervous. Excited, of course, but nervous. Would I like it? Would I want to do it forever? It looked like it hurt-? would it be uncomfortable? I’d always thought it was so spiritual to see my friends ‘wrap up.’ I was thrilled to have that experience. When Sunday morning arrived, I was a ball of nerves. My hands were a little shaky, and I felt like I was doing everything wrong. But the kindness and patience of my friend as she walked me through it calmed me down. And finally, when I tucked the ends into the straps around my palm, I was doing it. I was wearing tefillin. And yes, I thought it hurt.
Even while wearing tefillin, I was confused. I didn’t know how to put it on. Someone told me that I had to wear a tallit at the same time, but I don’t have one because it isn’t my custom. But someone was kind enough to lend me theirs, saying that this opportunity was more important than his custom. It was such an experience.
The shema says that we should put a sign on our hand and between our eyes, which is the purpose of tefillin. Traditionally, only men are required to wear it, but it has become more common for women to wear tefillin as well. I encourage everyone to try it. Take
the opportunities that life gives you to try new things-? you miss 100%
of the shots you don’t take.
Looking back on the event, I’m so glad that I tried it, even if I won’t wear tefillin again. I loved having the experience and seeing the marks on my arm after I’d taken it off-? it was almost like I could still feel it wrapped around me. But as much as a spiritual connection that it gave me, it just wasn’t for me, and that’s okay. Certain traditions aren’t for everyone. But the fact that I took the time to have that new experience, nervous and somewhat hesitant, I did it. It connected me to Judaism on so many physical and spiritual levels-? I can almost still feel the wraps on my arms and around my finger and the weight on my forehead. I guess you could say it’s one small wrap for me, one huge wrap for the rest of my life.