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The Secret of Tefilin

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Twice in our parsha, we encounter the same phenomenon - the Torah mentions the commandment of tefilin, which is always followed by an introduction that relates to the entrance to Eretz Israel. This led Chazal to...

 


 


The Secret of Tefilin - Rav Ronen Neuwirth


 


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"And it shall be when the L-rd shall bring you into the land of the Canaanite...And it shall be for a sign to you upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the L-rd may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand had the L-rd brought you out of Egypt...And it shall be when the L-rd shall bring you into the land of the Canaanite...And it shall be for a sign upon your hand, and for frontlets between your eyes; for by strength of hand the L-rd brought us forth out of Egypt..."(Shemot 13:5,9,11,16)


 


Twice in our parsha, we encounter the same phenomenon - the Torah mentions the commandment of tefilin, which is always followed by an introduction that relates to the entrance to Eretz Israel. This led Chazal to the following conclusion: "Why does the Torah mention 'bringing [to the Land]' in regards to tefilin? This is needed as taught in the academy of Rebbe Yishmael: Do this mitzvah so that in its merit you will enter the Land." (Kiddushin 37a)


 


Why is the mitzvah of tefilin any more related to Eretz Yisrael than any other commandment? How does this mitzvah give us the privilege to acquire Eretz Yisrael?


 


Rav Kook, in his essay on tefilin, provides a profound insight on this matter. The secret of tefilin lies within the verse that describes it's goal: " ' ". The tefilin, says Rav Kook, are designed to inject and infuse the kedusha (holiness) into our physical entity - our own flesh and blood. Therefore, we are instructed to put tefilin directly upon our body without any (separation). The tefilin, which are made of the skin of an animal, bring the kedusha directly from the tefilin's sections through our skin and straight into our body. Perhaps that is the reason why there is a unique Halacha regarding the tefilin which rules that " " (i.e. tefilin requires bodily purity). While most of the commandments are addressed to our soul in order to overcome the bodily interference, this mitzvah of tefilin in particular, is addressed to our body, and is aimed to uplift it and make it more spiritual.


 


This is exactly the secret of "Eretz Yisrael". The difference between Eretz Yisrael and all other countries is equivalent to the disparity between the tefilin and most of the other commandments. In the Diaspora, one has to subdue his bodily inclinations in order to achieve a spiritual level. "Whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a God, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no God"


(Kethuboth 110b). The land of Israel is the land of perfection, the land of completeness. The Torah of Eretz Yisrael assists us in finding the path of completion between heaven and earth, the course where there is no contradiction between our physical inclinations and our spiritual obligations.


This mitzvah of tefilin is supposed to teach us the secret of Torat Eretz Yisrael, the ultimate path of integration and completeness. Through this mitzvah we are practicing


each and every day the atmosphere of Eretz Yisrael, and therefore this mitzvah gives us the right to reenter the gates of Eretz Yisrael - which are literally - the gates of heaven


 


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