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Or is it just oral tradition passed down?

The Torah just says to put on tefilin, doesn't say what to do when putting them on.

  • See the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, siman 25. – ezra Jun 30 '17 at 1:19
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    When you say Torah, do you mean the 5 Books of Moses, or the entire Torah (Talmud, etc)? Because the Written Torah itself doesn't even describe what Tefillin were, that was transmitted orally together with the written commandment – Menachem Jun 30 '17 at 4:58
  • You make a good point – larry909 Jun 30 '17 at 6:24
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    Technically, the Torah does not mention the word tefillin. It just says to "place them as a sign on your hand and as totafot between your eyes." So, in actuality, the Torah is somewhat explicit in where to place these "things". It's that we don't really know directly from the Torah what these items actually are or what they look like. – DanF Jun 30 '17 at 17:30
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Like you mentioned, although the Written Torah does discuss putting on tefillin, it does not instruct how to put them on. Thus the answer to your first question, if the Torah discusses how to put on tefillin, is no.

However, the Oral Torah always has much more to say than the Written one. In Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, simanim 25 - 45, discusses the halachos of tefillin. It discusses how to put them on, what to think about when putting them on/wearing them, etc. Here is a link to the Shulchan Aruch online, wear you can read a little about it. (I don't think the whole thing is translated though, so you might encounter some untranslated parts every once in a while.)

Interestingly, though, the Shulchan Aruch does not discuss the exact way to wrap the strap of the tefillin shel yad around the hand. This is minhag, passed down from one's father. So this is the reason why different regions or families will have different minhagim concerning the hand.

  • So essentially what and how exactly we do tefilin was passed down orally? Is that right? – larry909 Jun 30 '17 at 1:41
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    @larry that's true of nearly all mitzvot – Double AA Jun 30 '17 at 1:43
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    Does the Talmud discuss how to put on tefillin? Refer to my comment under the question. I claim that the Torah does at least narrow down where to place the tefillin. E.g., at least you know not to place them on your rectum. – DanF Jun 30 '17 at 17:32

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