From the Rav’s Desk: Removing the plastic box from the Shel Yad Tefillin during the blessing

  • Question: [Wednesday, 18th Teves 5783]

The other day I saw an individual remove his plastic box from his Shel Yad Tefillin prior to the blessing and then put it back on after the wrapping. Is there any reasons or source for doing so? I never take my box off the arm Tefillin and was never taught to do so.



The suggested practice recorded in Poskim is indeed to remove the box prior to saying the blessing [or prior to wrapping, by Rabbeinu Tam] and then only put it back on later on after the wrapping on the arm. This was indeed the Rebbe’s custom. Nonetheless, those who don’t do so have upon whom to rely.

Explanation: It is the accepted practice today that when one purchases a Tefillin Shel Yad it comes with a protective plastic covering. The purpose of this covering is to prevent the corners of the Tefillin from getting damaged. Being that the Tefillin Shel Yad sits on the bicep under the clothing, which can damage its shape, therefore the custom became to cover it as a protection. Now, the Poskim debate whether the cover should be worn during Davening or only when the Tefillin is in the case. Indeed, the custom of the Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe Rayatz was to remove it and not wear the covering during Davening. The reason for this is because when worn during Davening it appears as if one is placing an added covering to the Bayis, and the ruling is that if one coats with external material then the Tefillin is invalid. However, the widespread custom of the world, as well as the Chabad custom and the custom of the Rebbe, is to wear it even during Davening. Whatever the case, the Poskim rule that even those accustomed to leave the box on the Tefillin Shel Yad throughout the Davening, are to remove the box from the Tefillin Shel Yad prior to saying the blessing and wrapping it, and this is likewise the Chabad custom and the custom of the Rebbe. Many, however, are unaware of the above, and are not accustomed to remove the plastic box at all, and recite the blessing and wrap it while it is on, and those who do so have upon him to rely, as in truth the box is not considered a Halachic coating being that it is not attached to it at all and can be easily removed. 

Sources: See Mikdash Me’at 32:188; Miasef Lekol Hamachanos 32:389; Ishkavta Derebbe p. 35 footnote 23; Siddur Raskin footnote 33; Piskeiy Teshuvos 27:23; See regarding the general custom of the covering: Admur 32:80; Rama 32:52; Ishkavta Derebbe p. 35 footnote 23; Igros Kodesh 12:433; Poskim who rule not to cover during Davening: Levushei Mordechai 2:178; Aruch Hashulchan 32:88; Orchos Chaim Spinka 27:15 in name of Pischeiy Teshuvah; Teshuras Shaiy 1:513; Yad Yitzchak 275; Emek Halacha 8; Even Yikara 3:140; Michzeh Avraham 1:4; Kinyan Torah 3:1; Mara Deshmasa 18 in name of Rav Freund; Kovetz Shefa Kodesh Tefillin 36 in name of Divrei Yatziv; Piskeiy Teshuvos 27:23 footnote 198; Nitei Gavriel Tefillin 40:12 footnote 15; Poskim who rule that may leave cover on during Davening: Zichron Yehuda 1:16 in name of Maharam Shick; Noda Besharim 2:2; Chesed Leavraham Teumim 29; Orach Mishpat 9; Arugas Habosem 9; Dinim Vehanhagos of Chazon Ish 3:8; Shraga Hameir 2:41; 6:71; Shevet Halevi 8:5; Yabia Omer 8:12; Mishneh Halachos 1:25; Piskeiy Teshuvos 27:23 footnote 199; Nitei Gavriel Tefillin 40:12 footnote 14 Custom of Rebbe Rayatz and Rashab: Ishkavta Derebbe p. 35 footnote 23 [he concludes that so should also be the Chabad custom, and if the Chassidim would have been aware of their custom, certainly they would do likewise unlike the custom today]; Igros Kodesh 12:433; Custom of Rebbe: Igros Kodesh 12:433; Custom to remove at least for blessing: Shevet Halevi ibid; Many Poskim in lenient opinion ibid; Nitei Gavriel Tefillin 40:13 footnote 16; Piskeiy Teshuvos 27:23 footnote 199 that all the Poskim in the lenient opinion brought above ruled that although we allow the box to remain while wearing the Tefillin, nevertheless it must be removed upon saying the blessing and wrapping it on the arm, in order to not be considered a permanent coating to the Bayis, which can invalidate it as rules Michaber 32:48

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