Friday, May 24, 2019

Wearing Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin Today

From Shaarey Tzaddik, Vol. 2
Excerpts from Letters 45 and 49
By Rabbi Gedaliah Aharon Kenig, zatzal
L’ilui nishmas our dear friend, a pillar of the Breslov community in Monsey, R’ Nachman ben Yaakov Halevi (Dov), zikhrono liverakha
Translated by Dovid Sears

The four parchments contained in the box of the Tefilah shel Rosh—the box placed on the head—are arranged differently according to the view of Rabbeinu Tam than the order of his grandfather, Rashi. The halakhah follows the view of Rashi; however it is a custom of the pious to wear those of Rabbeinu Tam, as well (either at the same time, or after donning those of Rashi). (See Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 34:1-2; Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar ha-Tefillin, 9. The differences between the views of Rashi and Rabbenu Tam, as well as Shemusha Raba and Ra’avad, are presented with diagrams in Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Sperling’s Ta’amei ha-Mitzvos, p. 19)

Rebbe Nachman instructed his followers to don both the Tefillin of Rashi and Tefillin of Rabbenu Tam every day. (Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh IV, 194; Likkutei Halakhos, Tefillin 5:27-32; ibid. 6:16).

Letter 45

Sec. 2:

You asked if you should wear Rabbenu Tam Tefillin. Know, my dear friend, that in these times, when we all long with all our heart and soul for the Final Redemption and our true spiritual liberation, through the arrival of our righteous Mashiach, may he come speedily in our days—we must strive with all of our ability to don the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, just as we don the Tefillin of Rashi.

The Redemption essentially depends on drawing into the world a higher consciousness; [it is this higher consciousness] to which the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam allude. Therefore, it is necessary in these times to be all the more diligent to don the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, thus to hasten the Redemption, collectively and individually; every person should merit to experience his own spiritual redemption, to be delivered from the bitter exile in the vanities of this world, in which each person is trapped in his own way, and to bear the “birth pangs” [of the Redemption]… particularly at the beginning… All this is explained at length in Likutey Halakhos, Orach Chaim, Hilkhos Tefillin, Halakhah 5, sec. 32 (see excerpt below).

Letter 49

Sec. 1:

Concerning your question as to what age one should begin to don the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, according to the view of our master, the Arizal, may his merits protect us, who states that both [those of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam] are true—know: we may assume that it is proper to wear them on the very day that one begins to don the Tefillin of Rashi, which is the day that one becomes a Bar Mitzvah, when he becomes responsible for performing the mitzvos. Since both viewpoints are true, why should one be considered superior to the other? This is our practice, with no debate about it whatever, according to the directive of our master, the Gaon, Chassid, and truly humble one, Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz (Kokhav Lev), zatzal. However, to avoid attracting attention to this, I instructed my sons to do so privately at home, before going to the synagogue and praying Shacharis, except when attending our synagogue which bears the name of our Rebbe [Rebbe Nachman of Breslov], may his merits protect us, where doing so is not unusual.

Sec. 2

As for your question about the meaning of wearing the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, the esoteric meaning (sod) of this matter is beyond measure, “deep, deep, who can fathom it?” (Ecclesiastes 7:24)—for it is the knowledge of the Infinite One, blessed be He and blessed be His will, which applies to all of the holy mitzvos. However, a small glimpse of its meaning may be seen in the awesome and wondrous explanation found in Likutey Halakhos, Orach Chaim, Hilkhos Tefillin, Halakhah 5, at length. And because I know that at this time you certainly can’t contemplate this entire discussion, I will cite for you a few points that can be put into practice.

In section 28, [Reb Noson] states: “Therefore, whoever wishes to come closer to Hashem, to draw upon himself an additional degree of holiness, must don the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, as our Rebbe [Rebbe Nachman] adjured his followers to don the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam… Thus, the main holiness that a person draws upon himself is related to the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam… through this, all those who are estranged elicit the power to break and nullify the Evil Urge…”

In section 29, he writes: “Therefore, now, during [this period known as] the “heels of the Mashiach,” at the end of the Exile, it is necessary to be diligent to wear the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, as all of the true tzaddikim of our day have urged us. For now, the Evil One has strengthened itself greatly against us, seeing that its end is near. And the main strengthening of the Exile that threatens us now, G-d forbid, is the mighty effort of the Evil One to distance the souls of Israel from the Blessed One, which is the main exile and affliction of the soul… And the affliction of the soul is due to the effort of the Evil One to introduce heresy and disbelief into the world, G-d forbid; and as our master [Rebbe Nachman] predicted, great atheism is coming to the world (Sichos HaRan 35). We see plainly that never before was such atheism prevalent among the Jewish people, due to our many sins, as that which has broken out among us… Therefore, each person must be careful to don the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, which reflect the higher consciousness of our great tzaddikim… Thus, we may be empowered to break the Evil Urge that musters its strength against us so intensely at this time.”

Additionally, in section 32, he writes: “Therefore, at the present time, at the end of the Exile, when the Evil One musters all of its strength … it is necessary to be careful to wear the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam … Our primary hope at the present time to go out from this bitter Exile … is through the power of the tzaddikim … who are the paradigm of the higher consciousness (mochin) of the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, which are extremely lofty. Therefore, we must be most diligent now to wear the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, thus to hasten the Redemption, collectively and individually, speedily in our days. May every individual merit to attain the liberation of the soul, to redeem his soul from the bitter exile of worldly vanities, within which each person is trapped in one way or another... Thus, we will collectively merit to the Final Redemption, speedily in our days.” These are the holy words of [Reb Noson, zatzal].

Reb Gedaliah continues to address the questions of his young correspondent:

Sec. 3

You asked me to explain to you at length the reasoning of the one who opines that whoever does not wear the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam is deemed a “skull that has never borne Tefillin” (a phrase of Chazal; see Rosh Hashanah 17a). I will tell you the truth—the one who says this stands his ground, but we do not wish to take a position on this issue, or to explain [this dispute] even in brief, since we do not consider ourselves worthy of doing so. For how can we be so brazen as to adjudicate and render a decision in this matter, and also explain it, since it is known that the Light of the Diaspora, our master, HaGaon Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna, may his merits shield us, did not wear the Tefillin of Rebbeinu Tam; and perish the thought that [he might be deemed as not having worn Tefillin], may Hashem protect us.  Even though “all the worlds turn over” concerning this matter, no place is given within our hearts for us to think this way, even though we do not share his view, and the majority of Torah scholars in many lands used to wear the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam in their day, as is discussed in Shaarey Teshuvah, siman 34, in the name of the Birkey Yosef of the Gaon, the Chida [Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azoulay), zatzal; and may this be enough.

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