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How when moshe turns his head not to see God's face, he sees He's got on teffilin? I thought God had no physical form.

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when saying God's add the 's so people wont get confused. –  my rebbi's talmid Apr 20 '10 at 4:03

4 Answers 4

The Torah speaks in allegory.

Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim

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In my opinion, it is in order to teach us that wearing tefillin is a fulfillment of וְהָלַכְתָּ בִּדְרָכָיו (Deuteronomy 28:9), walking in the ways of God - imitating Him, Who is perfect, in order for us, His creations, to become more perfect, to demonstrate that He is our Creator.

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so God has a form? –  Baal Shemot Tovot Mar 29 '12 at 22:07
How are you inferring that from what I wrote here? –  Adam Mosheh Mar 29 '12 at 22:08
You say that God wears Tefillin therefore we should wear tefillin. Sounds like you're understanding it literally that god wears tefillin. You cant wear tefillin unless you have a form. –  Baal Shemot Tovot Mar 29 '12 at 22:12
@l', It seems that Adam's intention is that just like, for example, we try to imitate God by being kind, for He is kind, we cannot possibly compare our kindness to His. What it means for God to be kind is different than what it means for you or I to be kind. Similarly, the concept of God's wearing tefillin is not to be taken literally, but rather just like in the kindness example, a representation of "the Godly counterpart" to wearing tefillin. –  jake Mar 29 '12 at 22:30
@jake - You are indeed correct. –  Adam Mosheh Mar 29 '12 at 22:34

It is meant allegorically. Yet, Rav Moshe Takku believed that Hashem is corporeal, and that this midrash is literal, rather than allegorical. See here: http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/01/rashi-and-rav-elyashiv.html?showComment=1265207473180#c1151988318870704459

Rav Moshe Taku was a 13th century Tosafist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses_Taku

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I'm not sure why the opinion of a single medieval scholar is relevant. He is outside the mainstream of Judaism. He even called R'Sadya Gaon a kofer for not being a corporealist! –  Ariel K May 24 '11 at 23:44
it is relevant because: (i) it shows that there was not absolute consensus as to how to understand this gemara, and so is worthy of note; (ii) he is one that we explicitly know to be a corporealist by his own writings, but there were many others referred to by Rishonim who were corporealists. Yes, post-Rambam, modern mainstream Judaism rejects the corporeality of God. –  josh waxman May 30 '11 at 5:05
@joshwaxman I don't think Judaism gives this opinion much consideration. –  Hacham Gabriel Dec 25 '11 at 23:05
@joshwaxman it's not a Midrash it is a Gemara Berachot 6. –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 20 '12 at 16:12
@HachamGabriel: It is a Midrash aggada which appears in a gemara. And of course contemporary Judaism does not give this opinion much consideration. The Rambam won the day, whether he was right or wrong as to the meaning of the midrash (and whether he was right or wrong as to God's corporeality). –  josh waxman Jan 22 '12 at 1:15

Moshe Rabbeinu did not see the tefillin, but the knot since HaShem 'turned'. The midrash aggadah in Berakhot 6a contains a remez, but to understand it, one has to understand what the tefillin are.

I am not going to explain this, however, the tefillin are two containers of Torah. Please note that Moshe Rabbeinu received two sets of lukhot on which the Torah was inscribed (not just the Aseret HaDibrot). These provede the remez (hint) as to the true meaning of the tefillin, and why Moshe was only shown the knot, but why the midrash aggaadah refers to both, but not the knot.

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Tzvi-Gad, welcome to Jewish Life & Learning Stack Exchange! –  Adam Mosheh Mar 30 '12 at 5:02

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