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How to Wrap Tefillin
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© Rabbi Jack Moline

Q: How many times is the tefillin wrapped around the fingers and which fingers are included in the wrap? We see several versions done and not certain as to which and why they select the fingers used.

A: Your confusion is well-founded, as different customs prevail in different places. The best authority to which I can refer you is the booklet by Martin Sandberg on Tefillin, published by the United Synagogue Book Service. You can call them at 212-533-7800 or access them on-line at

In that book, Sandberg illustrates this pattern -- After the strap is wound once around the back of the hand and between the thumb and forefinger, it is then wrapped once around the bottom of the middle finger, once around the top of the middle finger, and then again around the bottom of the middle finger. Then, the strap is brought between the ring finger and the pinky and across the back of the hand to form a "V." The rest of the strap is wound across the palm and down the middle of the "V" to form a "shin." This last circuit may be repeated as many times as is necessary, with the tail tucked under the strap on the palm to keep it from unravelling during prayer.

If these directions don't work, you may be wrapping the strap around the fore-arm in the opposite direction. Remember that it should come across the top first, then underneath, seven times between elbow and wrist.

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