When we wrap, there seems to be a prevalent custom to incorporate the shapes Dalet, Yod and Shin in the strap on the hand/arm (depending on one's custom (discussed in Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim page 13 and diagrams pp. 621-626) (Minhagei Yeshurun P. 212). While I know that there are kabbalistic sources and other explanations for the seven wrappings around the arm, and that many of the laws are reputed to be unexplained as examples of halacha lemoshe misinai, I am wondering where the idea of spelling out God's name with the 3 letters comes from (and I don't have access to the Otzar Minhagei Yeshurun and the Ktzot hashulchan).

A quick look at printed alphabets of ancient Hebrew show that the shape of the letters is not the same as we have now so wrapping straps to mimic current shapes would indicate that the minhagim are relatively recent. Where does this idea/practice originate?

  • 1
    See judaism.stackexchange.com/q/59960/759 which claims to use old shaped letters.
    – Double AA
    Jun 7, 2015 at 14:58
  • @DoubleAA I just watched the video which does help (and now I have to watch that question to see what history people dig up) but then this seems to point even more clearly to a more modern and disconnected minhag to tie them following the shapes we do now, and I am still looking for the source to wrap in those 3 letters.
    – rosends
    Jun 7, 2015 at 15:07
  • Are the shapes of the letters that we wrap different than the letters in the tefilin parchments themselves that make them more recent? How so?
    – Yishai
    Jun 7, 2015 at 15:59
  • @Yishai I assume they are the same, but that just leads to a question about when the script changed (answers like this judaism.stackexchange.com/a/18083/1362 and the others to that question) come into play.
    – rosends
    Jun 7, 2015 at 16:08
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    @Danno, yes, but then what is the last paragraph of your question? What is "relatively recent"? I'm not following. If you think Ezra changed it to Ksav Ashuris, then wrapping could have been contemporaneous with that. If you think it is older, then wrapping could have been older too. I'm just not following.
    – Yishai
    Jun 7, 2015 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


The Tashbatz writes in 3:118 that the custom of wrapping the Shin Dalet Yud on the Arm Tefillin is not of Talmudic or Gaonic origin and was not the custom of his teachers, nor the German, French, Provincial or Catolina custom. It originated in Spain as an expression of the love of the Mitzvah - and he takes no issue with it.

He then points out that the Shin Dalet Yud was already present in the Tefilin, with the Shin on the Shel Rosh, the Dalet as the knot on the Shel Rosh, and the Yud of the knot next to the Tefilin Shel Yad.

This latter notion of the name, is tied in with Devarim 28:10 as outlined in the Talmud Munachos 35b and Rashi there.

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