Parsha Halacha

Parshat Eikev / Shabbat Mevorchim Ellul

When Should One Take off the Tefillin?

Opinions and Reasons

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In the Torah portion of Eikev, we find the second section of the Shema in which the mitzvot of wearing the arm and head Tefillin are repeated for the fourth time, as it says,[1] “Place these words of Mine upon your heart, bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.” The commentaries deduce many things from this verse despite the fact that it is nearly identical to a verse in last week’s Torah portion.[2] Some of them are:

·        Put on Tefillin, Stay in Israel, and Live Long

The Ibn Ezra says that the verse, “So that you should have a long life on the land…”, which appears several verses after the one about Tefillin, teaches us that in the merit of putting on Tefillin one can receive a blessing to remain in the land of Israel and to have a long life.

·        Put on Tefillin, Even Outside of Israel

The Ramban says that the verse, “And you will soon be lost from the good land that G-d is giving you,” which precedes the verse about Tefillin, teaches us that one must observe the mitzvah of Tefillin (and other non-agricultural mitzvot) even in the Diaspora.[3]

·        Opposite the Heart

This verse is the source for the din (law) that the hand Tefillin must be placed on the bottom half of the upper arm – upon the bicep, as it says, “Place these words of Mine upon your heart… bind them as a sign on your hand,” i.e., bind them on your arm in such a way that they will be opposite your heart.[4]


This article will discuss the various opinions as to when is the appropriate time for removing one’s Tefillin after davening (praying) in the morning as well as the reasons for these opinions.

In Ancient Times – Before Nighttime

In ancient times, it was customary for men to wear Tefillin all day during the week (except for when going to the bathroom[5] and when eating a meal[6]) and to remove them only at night. Some would .remove them after finishing the second paragraph of the Shema in Maariv (the evening service).[7]

In addition, according to the Jerusalem Talmud, one would say the bracha/blessing of בָּרוּךְ… אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לִשְׁמוֹר חוּקָּיו (Blessed … to guard His statutes) when removing them before dark, as this is a fulfillment of a Biblical command.[8] The halacha, however, does not follow this view.

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Rather, it was the rabbis who established that we not wear Tefillin at night lest one fall asleep and pass gas while wearing them. As such, we do not recite a blessing when removing them.[9] Nevertheless, there are some who have a custom[10] to remove their Tefillin when saying, יְהִי רָצוֹן… שֶׁנִּשְׁמוֹר חֻקֶּֽיךָ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה – “May it be Your will that we guard your statutes in this world” (at the end of the Uva LeTziyon prayer).

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This prayer echoes the text of the bracha that should be said according to the Jerusalem Talmud when removing the Tefillin (לִשְׁמוֹר חוּקָּיו), as mentioned above. Nowadays it is no longer customary to wear them throughout the day as it is difficult to make sure one does not pass gas nor divert their attention from the Tefillin. Instead, they are worn only during the morning prayers.[11]


Four Customs

There are four customs mentioned in Shulchan Aruch HaRav[12] (the Code of Jewish Law written by the author of the Tanya) as to after which point in the morning prayers it is appropriate to remove one’s Tefillin. Please note that these customs are not that one must remove one’s Tefillin at these points, rather that one may do so. Certainly, one who wishes to keep on one’s Tefillin for longer will receive a blessing.

(It is also noteworthy that one who has difficulty preventing himself from passing gas should take off his Tefillin right after the Amidah.[13])

Here are the four customs and some of the reasons for them:

1)     After the Kedusha of Uva LeTzion[14]

There are several possible reasons for the custom of taking off the Tefillin after the Kedusha of Uva LeTzion:

A)    Since one must wear Tefillin during morning prayers, it is proper to keep them on for the kedusha of Uva LeTziyon which is an essential part of the prayers.[15]

B)    The Uva LeTziyon prayer contains the Kabbalistic secret to the birth of children which is the key to the redemption. As such, it is essential to wear Tefillin for this prayer.[16]

C)     For Kabbalistic reasons, it is necessary to say three (or four) “kedushot” (plural of kedusha – the prayer in which we recite the words kadosh kadosh kadosh et.) while wearing Tefillin (see below). These are the kedusha of Yotzer Ohr (before the Shema), the kedusha during the repetition of the Amidah and the Kedusha of Uva LeTziyon. (The version that says one must recite four kedushot counts Barchu as well.)

D)    By keeping on the Tefillin until after this part of Uva LeTziyon, one can fulfill the above-mentioned custom of removing the Tefillin when saying the words שֶׁנִּשְׁמוֹר חֻקֶּֽיךָ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה at the end of Uva LeTziyon.

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2)     After the Kadish Titkabel that follows Uva LeTziyon

The reason for the opinion of removing the Tefillin after the Kadish Titkabel following Uva LeTziyon is that according to certain Kabbalistic sources one should wear Tefillin while saying three kadesihim (plural of kadish) and four kedushot (see above).[17] The three kadeishim are the half kadish after Yishtabach, the one after tachanun, and kadish titkabel after Uva LeTziyon. The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that the kadish after the Torah reading does not count for this purpose since that relates specifically to the Torah reading rather than to the regular prayers.[18] (It is not clear why the kadeishimin the beginning of the Shacharit service [before Hodu and/or before Mizmor Shir and Baruch She’amar according to Nusach Sefard or Ashekenaz] are not counted towards this number.)[19]

3)     After Aleinu and Ve’al Kein Nekaveh

The Arizal would not take off his Tefillin until after saying Aleinu and Ve’al Kein Nekaveh Lecha (the second paragraph of Aleinu).[20] The reason for this seems to be that one should pray all of one’s prayers while wearing Tefillin. Since Aleinu is the last part of the morning prayers (according to the Nusach of the Arizal), it is appropriate to keep them on until after that prayer.[21] Some say that, for this very reason, it is appropriate to keep the Tefillin on for the kadish after Aleinu but that the Arizal would pray with Sefardim who would not customarily say kadish after Aleinu.[22] Were he to pray in a minyan that said this kadish, he would have kept on his Tefillin for that as well.[23]

4)     After the Kadish Yatom That Is After Aleinu

The custom that one should not remove the Tefillin until after the Kadish Yatom after Aleinu, is based on a different version of the Kabbalistic teaching (cited above). According to this version, one should hear three kedushot and four kadeishim while wearing Tefillin.[24] Thus, if one recites Aleinu immediately after Uva LeTziyon (as is customary according to Nusach Ashkenaz), the kadish yatom after Aleinu would be the fourth kadish. The Rama writes[25] that this is the present custom.

Chabad Custom

The Chabad custom is to keep one’s Tefillin on for the entire shacharit (morning service) as well as for the daily Tehillim (Psalms) that is recited afterwards.[26]

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The reason for this custom may be based on the Arizal’s opinion (as explained above) to keep on the Tefillin until the end of the prayers. Since the recital of the daily Tehillim has now become part of the daily prayers, it is appropriate to wear them for this as well. One may add that, by the letter of the law, men should wear Tefillin throughout the day as mentioned above.

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The reason we do not do so is that we are afraid that we may not maintain the proper sanctity of our bodies and our thoughts for the entire day. But as long as we are praying, we are (hopefully,) careful about these matters. As such, it is appropriate to keep wearing the Tefillin during this time.

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There are other laws and customs that relate to removing one’s Tefillin when a Sefer Torah is present in the shul, during a Brit Milah, or on Rosh Chodesh. G-d willing, we will address these in the future.


[1] Deut. 11:18

[2] Ibid 6:8

[3] See Talmud Yerushalmy, Kiddushin 1:8

[4] Brachot 13b, Menachot 37b, Mekhilta d’Rabbi Yishmael 13:9, Alshich HaKadosh and Chizkuni. See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 26:2

[5] See Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 43

[6] Ibid 40:11

[7] Beit Yosef, O.C. 25 D.H. Katvu Hagahot and Darkei Moshe, O.C. 29:1. It would seem that this custom was followed by those who prayed Maariv before sundown (see O.C. 233:1 and Rama 235:1). They would keep their Tefillin on while reciting the first two paragraphs of Shema so that they not bear false witness against themselves by mentioning the mitzvah of Tefillin in Shema while not wearing them (see Brachot 14b).

[8] Jerusalem Talmud Brachot, 2:3. This opinion is also cited in Menachot 36b  This is based on the verse (in Exodus 13:10) וְשָׁמַרְתָּ֛ אֶת הַחֻקָּ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את לְמוֹעֲדָ֑הּ מִיָּמִ֖ים יָמִֽימָה which can be translated to mean, “You should guard (and make sure) to (only) keep this statute during the day.”

[9] Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 29. According to this opinion, the verse ofוְשָׁמַרְתָּ֛ etc. is understood to be referring to the Pesach sacrifice and not to the mitzvah of Tefillin (Menachot ibid).

[10] Beit Yosef 25 D.H. Katvu Hagahot                

[11] O.C. 37:2 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav 37:2 Some who follow Kabbalistic practice, put their Tefillin on again for Mincha except on Erev Shabbat and Erev Yom Tov (Kaf HaChayim 37:10). In Jerusalem there are some who follow the custom of the Vilna Gaon and continue to wear Tefillin all day.

[12] 25:37. See O.C. 25:13 and commentaries

[13] Magen Avraham 25:27 as explained by the Pri Megadim in Eshel Avraham.

[14] The Kedusah of Uva LeTziyon ends with the words ה׳ מַלְכוּתֵהּ קָאֵם לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא (Tur O.C. 132)

[15] See Tur ibid based on Sotah 49a says that the world exists in the merit of the Kedusha of Uva Letziyon.

[16] Mekor Chaim by Rabbi Chaim Avraham HaKohen of Aram Tzovah on O.C. 25:13

[17] Shela and Sefer HaMusar, quoted in Magen Avraham 25: 28

[18] Igrot Kodesh vol.2 pg. 52

[19] Ibid. The Ot Chaim VeShalom writes that the reason these kadeishim are not counted is because people come late and miss them. But, the Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that this is a difficult interpretation.

One might say that these kadeishim are not counted due to the fact that it only became customary to recite them in recent times and they are not mentioned in earlier sources. Nevertheless, since from a Kabbalistic perspective they are important (see Kaf HaChaim 50:6), one would expect them to count towards this matter which is based on Kabbalah.

[20] Sha’ar HaKavanot, Inyanei Tefillin, end of Derush 5

[21] In the words of the Sha’ar Hakavanot, “One should pray the entire service after putting on Tefillin. After one finishes Aleinu and Ve’al Kein etc., then one may take them off.”

[22] This is also the opinion of the Arizal himself – that there is no need to say kadishafter Aleinu. See Kaf Hachaim 132:17 and in many places.

[23] Ketzot Hashulchan 8 in Badei Hashulchan 55

[24] Rama 25:13

[25] ibid

[26] HaYom Yom and Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad, quoted in the footnotes on Shulchan Aruch HaRav 25:37


Wishing you a Shabbat Mevarchim Shalom UMevorach!

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