Monday, August 25, 2008

Tefillin challenge, round 3 :)

Round 2 is here, complete with a link to round 1. :)

When last we encountered our intrepid tefillin-wearing woman, she was trying to get around the problem of not wishing to bare her head in synagogue in order to put on the head tefillin (tefillah?--well, "shel rosh," in any case). In round 2, I solved the problem by using a pre-tied scarf (see photo link in that post).

But commenter Mordechai Y. Scher reminded me that I had a major and serious halachic problem:

"Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Shalom Shira!

Yes, some of us are still here (though I wasn't patient enough to read all through that last comment).

First off, I do not want anyone to mistakenly think that I advocate woman putting on tefillin. I do not.

Having said that, if a woman will put on tefillin, she should be sure that all the halachot are followed. That includes, but is not limited to, placing the front edge of the bayit at the hairline or where the hairline used to be, placing the knot on the proper place at the back of the neck, etc."

. . . "

I knew perfectly well that the ring of tied-together straps of my head tefillin/shel rosh was too loose, a problem that I was trying to figure out how to solve without having to lie to a sofer and tell him that my tefillin had been a gift to a Bar Mitzvah boy and needed adjusting. By the time I got partway through our week at the Institute, I was afraid that, if the shel rosh got any looser, it would fall down around my neck like a necklace!

Rav todot/many thanks to Susan, the same woman who made my new pink kippah--photo link here--for tightening the tied-together straps of my shel rosh after Shacharit one weekday morning at the Institute.

Now that the shel rosh of my tefillin is properly tight, I've discovered a few things. First of all, it's surprising how much higher I have to reach to touch the shel rosh with my fingers and kiss them during the Sh'ma--the new reach took me a few days to get used to. Second of all, it's much harder to put the shel rosh around a scarf, or even an extra-large kippah such as the one that Susan made for me, now that the straps are tied so much more tightly. Much as I hate to admit it, it's vastly easier to put on a shel rosh over a reasonably-standard-sized kippah than over any other kisui rosh (head covering) that I've tried. Nu, do I get an A for effort, at least?

P.S. Now that my shel rosh sits in the proper place, much farther back on the top of my head than previously, I'm getting a much worse case of "tefillin hair"--every minyan after Shacharit (Morning Service), I find strands, and even whole patches, of my hair standing straight up, and have to dab my cowlicks with a little water so that I don't leave for work looking like Dennis the Menace.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, just great! Now I get blamed for aiding and abetting. (rolls eyes)

And, BTW, I don't quite get how you cover your hair but still get the tefilla shel rosh in place without a hatzitza - a disruption between the tefilla and you (which a head covering would be). Or, a) are you not covering your hair that thoroughly; or b) are putting tefillin on at home where the hair-covering issue wouldn't be such an issue?

As I've said, I'm not advocating for this, but if it is to be done...

many blessings,

Tue Aug 26, 01:14:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Mordechai, here are the "directions" that I gave in the linked round 2:

" . . . make the brachah (blessing) over the head tefillin, place the bayit (box containing the biblical quote hand-written on parchment) at the front of the head, use both hands to put the tied-together part of the strap around the head--that's the part that's impossible to do one-handed, while wearing, and trying not to remove, a hat--and pull one untied part around each side of the neck and to the front. Then, *holding the front of the scarf [snood, beret, kippah, or whatever] so that it won't fall off,* move the tied-together part of the strap and the sides and back of the scarf as necessary to ensure that none of the scarf is caught under the strap, which must rest directly against the head. Finally, make sure that the bayit is in its proper place, centered, with the front lower edge above the hairline, and that the knot at the back of the head tefillin is centered at the back of the neck, just below the skull. (To the best of my knowledge, this is the halachically-required positioning of the head tefillin. Please do correct me if I'm wrong!) I believe that it's permissible to pull the scarf back over the straps, if you'd like to keep more of your head covered. (Again, corrections requested, if necessary.)"

I think that such a maneuver should care of the hatzitza problem, but please correct me if I'm wrong. My goal is to put the shel rosh on without completely uncovering my hair in the process, but you're on target in asking whether I'm not covering my hair that thoroughly--I'm not covering much more than would be covered by a kippah. According to a comment by rabbinical student Steg on the same linked post, “2. it was reported to me by a rabbi i know, that one of my and his mutual rebbeim described the area of a married woman's head that she is obligated to cover as (paraphrased) "where the tefillin straps go"; any hair that sticks out below the place of the knot in the back no longer counts as "head hair" that must be covered. in that case, a large kippa-like headcovering that covers the head to the point of the tefillin straps' circle would be enough.” That’s pretty much the amount of head-covering for which I’m aiming, which is why I bought large-ish kippot at the Institute.

Tue Aug 26, 03:39:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Mordechai, you can find links to photos of me in my three new kippot here--clink on the links and judge for yourself whether my new kippot are big enough. The one made by Susan certainly meets Steg’s rabbi’s rabbi’s requirement. The other two may be cutting it a bit close, size-wise, but, in my defense, they’re the largest kippot I’ve bought in a couple of decades, to the best of my recollection.

Tue Aug 26, 03:50:00 PM 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>