Doing dialogue
Why Aleph (part 1 of ?)

Tefillin in winter

Laying tefillin is simpler in summertime. When I'm wearing some light sleeveless linen thing, my arms are already bare; wrapping my left arm with the leather retzuah is a tactile experience, but it doesn't take any preparation. Now, though -- now I have to tug at two layers of thick winter wear, a turtleneck and a heavy wool sweater, to scrunch them up my arm far enough that the bayit, the little box containing the words, rests at the strongest part of my bicep. (That I haven't worked out lately also makes the supposed bulge of bicep harder to find, but that's another issue entirely.)

This morning I was hyper-conscious of my tefillin, in part because of the sensation of the leather and in part because my left arm was cold! It didn't distract me badly, but I was definitely aware of it, and when I was finished there was a certain pleasure in yanking my sleeves back down.

The cold shouldn't be a surprise, since I started laying tefillin last spring when there was still snow on the ground. But acclimatization matters -- the same snowy day that feels chill at the start of winter (compared with the warmth that preceded it) can feel almost balmy at winter's end. It's written in the Shulkhan Arukh that one who is suffering from the cold is exempt from the obligation to lay tefillin, but I don't really have any desire to invoke that clause -- I'm not really suffering, just kvetching. And I regard tefillin as an informed choice, not an obligation per se. (Besides, I really like tefillin. I'd miss the experience if I gave it up until the snow melts.)

Incidentally, snow and tefillin have interesting symbolic resonance, at least according to The Mystical White Snow, an article by Rabbi Boruch Leff. Rabbi Leff draws a fascinating connection between white snow and the Zoharic teaching that God wears all-white tefillin. (Ours, he says, are black, representing how we absorb revelation; God's, in contrast, are white, because God reflects all wisdom and guidance.) Wacky.

Anyway. Having all of this on my mind made it especially entertaining to find the following image in my blog aggregator today:

(Image via Jerusalem Syndrome.) Does this make her Rosie the Davvener?

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