by Rabbi Moishe Kievman
One of the most important Mitzvahs observed and treasured for thousands of years, is now more accessible throughout South Florida. The beautiful new black Tefillin Station is artistically shaped like a Shel Rosh – the head portion of the Tefillin with legs that look similar to Retzuot straps. The attractive stands made of aluminum are stationed at popular eateries, offices and Jewish Community Centers and enable any Jewish man who has not had a chance that day to put them on and quickly do the Mitzvah.
The biblical commandment that Jewish men aged 13 and older put on the Tefillin each weekday is derived from the verse in Deuteronomy “You shall bind them as a sign upon your head, and they should be a reminder between your eyes”. Although any time during the day is okay to do Tefillin, we try to start the day with this special Mitzvah and energy boost, before going to work. We do Tefillin each Sunday through Friday, besides for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Pesach & Shavuot. On holidays like Chanukah, Purim and Yud Tes Kislev we still put on Tefillin.
In addition to fulfilling 4 instant Mitzvahs (for the hand Tefillin, the head Tefillin, saying the Shema and praying) it also has the benefit of one Mitzvah leading to another. You never know which Mitzvah it can lead to!
Besides the obvious spiritual benefits, recent studies have discovered that it also comes with physical benefits. According to a study led by researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine, Jewish men who put on Tefillin receive cardiovascular health benefits. The researchers propose that benefits may occur though remote ischemic preconditioning that results in protection during heart attacks.
These stands are not just for non-observant men. Unfortunately many men from observant homes leave home in the morning in a rush without making Tefillin a priority. But while waiting for their food at the restaurant or working out at the J they’re inspired and gladly take the opportunity to connect.
Today, everyone is running after a dollar and even young men from Chassidic homes sometimes forget what’s most important. There was a recent video going around social media of a Rosh Yeshiva at Mir who wished his son put on Tefillin, even asking someone to pray for him to realize what he’s missing.
The Rebbe initially made it an official campaign in 1967, before the Six-Day War. The Rebbe insisted that the mitzvah has deep spiritual potency. “When one puts tefillin on his head,” he said quoting the Talmud, “he projects fear over our enemies wherever they are.” The miraculous victory that brought the war to a swift, dramatic end sparked a feeling of Jewish pride among Israel’s citizens and Jews throughout the world. The Rebbe said that there’s a direct link between a Jewish man putting on Tefillin on one side of the world and it protecting our soldiers in Israel.
The beautiful Tefillin Station is also simply seen as a gorgeous piece of art. Human brains are wired to appreciate and be inspired by art. According to scientists, the right brain is stimulated deeply by art. Artworks inspire creative and innovative thinking; the right brain takes what it sees and expands upon it. People from all walks of life have been inspired by these, simply as an art installation, while Jewish people have an even more meaningful inspiration, with a direct message of Jewish pride.
While helping a fellow Jew don Tefillin used to be looked at as a ‘Chabad thing’, today everyone is doing it. And with these stations strategically placed, thousands of people are being inspired each day.
If you would like to host a station or if there’s a particular spot that you think would work well, please reach out to your local Chabad or rabbi@ChabadChayil.org. Anyone inspired to help is welcome to partner with us in this important cause by dedicating a Tefillin Station or part of one through the GoFundMe page set up at TefillinStation.com, where you can also learn more about the campaign details.
Each Tefillin Station will have step by step directions on how to use the Tefillin with a QR code to watch a quick how-to video. Eventually we also plan on placing some type of ipad or tablet making the step-by-step instructions even easier to follow.
Although when it comes to Jewish Pride the PEW study shows much to be desired, this is most definitely a leap in the right direction.
About the author:
Rabbi Kievman together with his wife are the ambassadors of The Rebbe to Highland Lakes, FL. They are the founders of Gan Chabad Preschool, your local CTeen & CKids chapters, CHAP – an afterschool program for Jewish children in Public Schools and direct Chabad Chayil. He’s the rabbi at The Family Shul and can be reached at (305) 770-1919 or rabbi@ChabadChayil.org