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A Poor Choice: Part One

If someone were given the choice to lose either his head or his arm it is safe [or not so safe..] to say that one would choose to lose his arm and keep his head.

But what about a person who is so poor that he can only afford to buy one tefillin box, either the arm tefiilin or the head tefillin, which one takes precedence?

The gemara in brachos teaches that if one is eating one of the seven species [shivas haminim - which can also be translated as "seven heretics"] he should first make a bracha on the food that is listed first in the pasuk. So maybe the same principle should apply to the tefillin. Since the arm tefillin is mentioned first in the pasuk [ukshartom li'os al yadecha vihayu litotafos bein ainecha] it would make sense that it takes precedence and one should choose to purchase it over the head tefillin.

But it is not so simple. To be continued......

based on the Rambam on teshuvah you posted in a later post, since the tefillin shel yad represents the heart, which represents the middot, perhaps you must first purchase the shel-yad because otherwise, jumping ahead to trying to connect your intellect to HaShem (via the Shel-rosh) will fail because your character hasn't been elevated yet.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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