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November 25, 2015 / 13 Kislev, 5776
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A Tefillin Mirror


Question: Must a bar mitzvah boy buy a mirror to ensure that his tefillin are perfectly center on his head?

Answer: The holy sage, HaGaon HaTzaddik Rav Chaim Sanzer, the author of the Divrei Chayyim, ruled (Divrei Chayim, cheilek II, Orach Chayim, siman 6) that such a custom is foolish and uncouth (divrei burot).

He argues that even if the shel rosh is not placed exactly in the middle of one’s head (at the hairline), one has still fulfilled the mitzvah. This argument is based on the halachic tradition that there is room to place two sets of tefillin on one’s head and on the fact that there is no maximum measurement for the width of the tefillin shel rosh. (See Tosafot, Eruvin 95b and Bet Yosef, Orach Chayim 27.)

Accordingly, a person need not be worried about positioning his tefillin perfectly center on his head. Carrying a mirror around to do precisely this is therefore unnecessary.

About the Author: Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of eight sefarim on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer the Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and select Judaica stores.

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One Response to “A Tefillin Mirror”

  1. tefillin rabbi says:

    While the more lenient opinion of the Divrei Hachaim is well known, the opinion of the Mishna Brura is the widely accepted psak and who are we to disregard it! (See Shulchan Aruch 27/10) The Mishna Brura says that the bayis must be properly centered on the head and is otherwise pasul. The Divrei Hachaim was of the opinion that when we say that 2 pairs of tefillin can be worn at once, it refers to 2 pairs side by side. Obviously, according to this, neither pair will be centered hence the basis for the bayis to not have to be perfectly centered. However, lemaaseh, 2 pairs worn at once refers to 2 pairs worn one above the other (as can be seen today).

    Also see the siddur of the Shulchan Aruch Harav (hilchos tefillin) that the bayis much be centered on the head “mamash”.


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