I have been doing some rudimentary research into kissing the tefillin while davening. This question discusses some of the traditions about when to kiss and provides some late sources (the Shulchan Aruch from the 16th century and the Ben Ish Hai from the 19th). Another site referenced the Mishna Brurah (also 19th). But I am looking for the sources for the practice that these codes are pointing to. I would like to assume that the practice was not invented by the Shulchan Aruch and has some basis in something.

If anyone can provide an early source for it, especially talmudic, that would be great.

  • somewhat related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/27172/…
    – Yishai
    May 25, 2014 at 14:47
  • The gemara mentions and Rambam records to kiss the ground of Eretz Yisroel. The Bais Yosef and Meiri quote the Gaonim who refer to minhag of kissing tefillin and tzitzis.
    – Yoni
    May 25, 2014 at 16:40
  • @Yoni quoting Geonim does take it back to (possibly) the 7th century so any citation to that would be welcome. But I am looking for even earlier if it exists.
    – rosends
    May 25, 2014 at 16:58
  • @yoni where is the gamoro and the rambam? Source it May 26, 2014 at 10:14
  • Here's a source for kissing a Mezuza - in the Talmud: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/12052/501 May 27, 2014 at 9:10

1 Answer 1


I think your earliest source would be a Gemara in Shabbos 12a:

תני דבי רבי ישמעאל יוצא אדם בתפילין בערב שבת עם חשיכה מאי טעמא כיון דאמר רבה בר רב הונא חייב אדם למשמש בתפילין כל שעה ושעה ק"ו מציץ מה ציץ שאין בו אלא אזכרה אחת אמרה תורה (שמות כח) והיה על מצחו תמיד שלא יסיח דעתו ממנו תפילין שיש בהן אזכרות הרבה על אחת כמה וכמה הלכך מידכר דכיר להו

BTW: The Gemara in Menachot 36b and Yoma 7b also bring רבה בר רב הונא's saying in a slightly different context.

Summary: A person is obligated to touch his Tefillin regularly so as not to forget about them.

How touching became touch and then kiss the hand that touched does not seem to have a Talmudic source. Similarly, we see in Avoda Zara 11a that Onkelos touched the Mezuza on his way out, and we tend to kiss the hand that touched the Mezuza. (Hat tip: This question.)

כי נקטי ליה ואזלי חזא מזוזתא [דמנחא אפתחא] אותיב ידיה עלה


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