Parshas Ve’eschanan – The Mitzvah of Tefillin

This week in the Torah:

For the third time, we are commanded regarding the Mitzvah of Tefillin.

Upon careful analysis:

The passages in Exodus (e.g. 13:9) refer to the two parts of Tefillin – the part that is tied to the arm and the part that is tied to the head – as one entity – “It (- singular) shall be for a sign on your arm and for a remembrance between your eyes….” This week in Deuteronomy (6:4), they are spoken of as two distinct entities “You shall tie them for a sign on your arm, and they shall be for a sign between your eyes.”


a)      Effects the world in such a way as to intimidate non-Jews from even trying to war against us. “All the nations of the Earth will see that the Name of G-d is called upon you, hence they shall fear you,” (Deut. 28:10). I.e. in the merit of Tefillin. (See Gemara, Berachos 6a.)

b)      Helps the Jews defend themselves (if needed). “He tears off the arm together with the head,” (Deut. 33:20). In the merit of the two distinct parts of the Tefillin – arm and head. (See Halachos Ketanos of Rosh, Laws of Tefillin, Ch. 15.)

The difference:

In Exodus the leader to bring the Jews into Israel was meant to be Moses. In Deuteronomy it was known that Joshua would do this instead. Joshua’s character is likened to the Moon in comparison to Moses who is likened to the Sun. This means that Joshua represents a lower level of divine service wherein G-dly illumination is scarce. Whereas Moses represents the higher level of divine service wherein G-d’s light shines downward and illuminates everything.


In Exodus, a time of divine revelation, leaving no room for disparity, Tefillin are one. In Deuteronomy – about to enter the land under Joshua – they are two.


Two are sometimes better than one – i.e. on the lower level of divine service, (under Joshua), the separation of body from mind (and spirit) elicits a more thorough refinement of the body itself as its own entity; thereby, assuring an everlasting refinement of the lower realms – completing the perfection of all existence.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 9, Va’eschanan)

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