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Unread 12-30-2004, 09:32 AM   #5
Executive Member
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 285
Re: How to explain to a reform guy why to leig tfillin

Here is how I would explain it. Mitzvas are not just spiritual. It is the ******ian view to think that one must only be removed from the world to worship properly, as with their emphasis on priests and nuns not getting married and in their rejection of many mitzvas in favor of just having a good feeling in their heart for their god who will then forgive and save them without a direct dedication to the exact details of commandments. (Kavana, intention, without ma’aseh, overt action. The New Testament constantly says not to observe one commandment after another.)

But if G-d only wanted spiritual in the absence of anything physical, the angels and heaven might have sufficed, with no need for us and the terrestrial domain. Mitzvas are not just spiritual. They are interfaces — meeting points — between the physical and spiritual. Our role down here in this corporeal world, which is the true objective of the creation of all the worlds, is to reveal G-dliness within the physical, to make an actual dwelling place for G-d within the corporeal realm itself.

Consequently, G-d in the Torah gave us specific instructions to follow, actions to perform using the physical things of this physical world and thereby to elevate that physical realm by utilizing it in the service of G-d.

In the case of Tefillin, not only is it specifically commanded in the Torah to put on Tefillin, but indeed, Tefillin very much signifies this meeting point between the physical and the spiritual. The Tefillin contain words of scripture which we place on our bodies, and in the way we wind the straps we literally write G-d’s NAME — Sha-kai — on our bodies. We write G-d’s name not just on a piece of paper but literally on our corporeal flesh with all its impulses to indulge and be self-oriented. The Tefillin are also arranged so that they are on the arm and the head, signifying that the body (arm) and even that higher part of the body — the head — in which is contained the intellect — must all be elevated to union with G-d. The head Tefillin are also placed specifically between our eyes, signifying that even that rarefied faculty of sight, which can be directed toward great indulgence and debasement, must instead be elevated and directed toward the service of G-d.

Indeed, even in the case of “higher” intellect, we have seen in the last century how mere intellect, however sharp, can still leave a person engaging in the most beastly and vicious behavior and debasement, as in the case of the Nazis, shrewd, calculating, dedicated to science and the mastery of technology, and still utterly cold, totally evil and murderous as everyone saw.

Above all, it is the literal writing of the Name of G-d on flesh according to the specific instructions of that G-d, that signifies what Tefillin is all about. To others, the ******ians and some ascetics in Asia, flesh and spirit are incongruous, two opposing things. Tefillin signify the exact opposite, that G-d desires a dwelling place within the physical.

Indeed, Tefillin are more than just a picture or “symbol” of this meeting. Because Tefillin itself is something G-d commanded us, putting it on literally brings the Will of G-d into our physical being and transforms that physical being, with direct tangible ramifications for our physical existence and the blessings we receive for our lives.
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