Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Sign of Tefillin

Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Spector, zt”l, was the undisputed leader of all religious Jews during his times, and also enjoyed the respect and admiration of many non-Jewish noblemen of his day. Yet he had his share of enemies who sought to diminish his stature in whatever way they could. The people who wanted to destroy him were not above resorting to less than honest means. Rav Yitzcahk Elchonon would remove his tefillin at the end of davening each day—even when it was the custom in his country to say a misheberach for the king after davening, he would immediately remove his tefillin before they said this prayer. His enemies felt that they had finally found the opportunity to make him trouble, since there were numerous witnesses to this “offence,” which they thought could not be disputed or explained away. They filed a complaint with the king that Rabbi Spector clearly did not respect the monarch since he was brazen enough to remove his tefiljlin before praying for his welfare. This was obviously a sign that, to him, the davening was complete and the extra prayer was an unnecessary addition. When the rav was confronted about why he removed his tefillin before the prayer he based his reply on a famous halacha. “Quite the contrary, I remove my tefillin as a sign of my great respect and awe for our beloved monarch. The Talmud teaches that we do not wear tefillin on Shabbos or Yom Tov due to the special character of the day. Similarly, I remove my tefillin before the prayer for the king because to me this day is likened to Shabbos and Yom Tov when we do not wear tefillin due to our great respect and awe!”

No comments: