Rabbi Shimon Eider's book, Student Edition of Halachos of Tefillin, dates to 1985. In it (section Ⅲ D 7), he writes:

Some Poskim hold that one should sit while putting on the Shel Yad and stand while putting on the Shel Rosh; this is the minhag of Sefardim. Other Poskim hold that one should stand while putting on both the Shel Yad and Shel Rosh; this is the minhag of Ashkenazim.

The claim that Sephardic Jews customarily sit, and Ashkenazic Jews customarily stand, while donning the hand-t'filin accords also with what I have always understood to be the case (for what it's worth). There's a little more information on this practice elsewhere on Mi Yodeya.

However, in the past year or so, I have seen three or four Sephardic Jews in Ashkenazic synagogues donning the hand-t'filin while standing. While it's certainly possible that they are ignorant of the common practice or have decided on their own to ignore it in an Ashkenazic synagogue in order to act like those around them (an idea with halachic basis in some contexts), I wonder whether there is more to it than that. Specifically:

Are there any Sephardic communities that have always had the custom of standing to don hand-t'filin? Which?

  • 1
    The original custom may have been to stand while saying the b'racha as the source for sitting comes from the zohar, which is a relatively recent book. So if the custom comes from the Zohar, you might have certain old communities who stand, and certain communities who sit, without knowing it comes from the zohar. i believe the shulchan arukh rules that you should stand
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 22:00
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    @Aaron, I don't think the SA rules either way. Also, the age of the Zohar is a matter of much discussion (as I'm sure you know), but even assuming arguendo that it's no older than when it was found, it could still be referring to an older practice.
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately I do not have the time to check each source specifically, but here are a few pointers:

Rabbi Shalom Jerby from Nofit in Israel says that Sephardic communities in many places stand, including Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and more.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef says that even though lechatchila one should stand, there's a sod to sitting, and he brings a few sources there as well.

Good luck!

  • With a name like "Jerby" he sounds like he would know the customs of Tunisia. Many thanks for your citation to his explanation; +1. But I don't see the relevance of your citation to Rabbi Yosef: the question was about communities with a tradition of standing, and he doesn't seem to address that.
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 22:20
  • Yes @msh210 you are right, sorry, I just stumbled upon that one, and thought to include it as it specifically mentions that according to kabbalah Rabbi Yosef says that they sit, so that might be the reason for some of the mentioned communities.
    – Cauthon
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 23:03

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