The commandment of the arm-tefillin is וקשרתם לאות על ידך, "And you shall bind it as an sign upon your yad". (Devarim 6:8, Devarim 11:18) However, having just read an answer by Shalom, defining a similar question, I wondered which part of the tefillin the sign was.

Is the sign of the tefillin the four parshiot [in the bayit on the biceps], or is it the retzu'ah wrapping on the hand?

1 Answer 1


I think it's the bayis, rather than the retzuah. Here are some reasons why:

Rashi writes (Devarim 6:8):

וקשרתם לאות על ידך: אלו תפילין שבזרוע

And you shall tie them for a sign on your hand: these are the tefillin of the forearm

It sounds like the part of the תפילין של יד that is the sign is the part that goes on the forearm; however, I'm not sure if this is a good proof, because the whole tefillin is called "tefillin of the forearm;" the word "זרוע" here might just come to differentiate this tefillin from the head-tefillin.

The בעל הטורים, there, writes:

ידך. בגי' גובה היד

Your hand: on the height (higher part) of the hand

Again, this sounds like the אות is the part on the זרוע, the forearm.

The best proof I found to say that the "sign" is the bayis is in the תרגום יונתן, chapter 6, verse 8:

וְתִקְטוּרִינוּן לְאָתִין כְּתִיבִין עַל יְדָךְ דִּשְמָאלָא

And you will tie this for a written sign on your left hand

Of the two parts you mentioned, the only one that could possibly be a "written" sign is the bayis of the tefillin.

(all translations mine)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .