Soferet, Ba’alat Magiah On Retzuah Shel Tefillin

If a pair of tefillin was not worn regularly, it is necessary to bring it to a scribe at least twice in seven years to have it checked. Jewish Gates

I dreamt.

My “husband” (whose identity was unknown) and I were moving into a big old mansion of a house of many rooms (see batim) in a small town. The house reminded me of the kind of big old house one sees in scary movies.

It was a huge house with many unique characteristics, nooks and crannies, and hidden places, but it was also a very modest house. It was just big, spacious, unique and full of many rooms. And mostly empty of furniture at this time.

I was going through the house while my husband was away, deciding who would have what room and how to utilize the wondrous spaciousness of the place. The kids each got his or her own little kingdom – in other words, along with the bedroom, each child received extra adjoining rooms around it into which to “expand” his or her domain.

The oldest son got a place of many rooms upstairs, and a rather secluded room in the back of his space, where he could play his loud music, that nobody else in the family liked, just as he pleased and without annoying everyone else. Likewise, the other children got places to fit their unique needs and desires. Everyone would be happy.

There was so much space and so many rooms, allowing me to do this for my kids. And after I finished finding the right rooms and space for my children which brought each joy, there were still many more rooms and much space than I could assign. There was room left for the whole family to expand into. We could even take in guests and boarders, with so much room.

Oddly, I couldn’t decide with certainty (see unstable chaos) on which room to take for myself and my husband. (I had to wait until I woke up for it to become clear – see stable chaos– as to why this was so.) The two rooms I considered (see knot and mochin of Leah) first as a single unit wouldn’t do at the moment, as I saw these rooms didn’t have finished roofs (see tevunah) over them yet and would get wet when it rained [1]. Those two bedrooms were together [2] still being built simultaneously (see the one compartment of the tefillin shel yad).

As I was considering these two rooms together, I saw that outside the windows a lion was lurking. So, the unfinished rooms weren’t really safe either.

In the meantime while the roofs were being put on, there were 4 other bedrooms (see the 4 compartments of the tefillin shel rosh) to choose from for my husband and I to dwell safely in (see syag). In the dream, it was a given that my husband and I would need at least two bedrooms (see challah and niddah) for niddah times. And besides, we each needed our own space to expand (2 by 2 = 4, see totafot) into as well as did our children. We had 4 bedrooms (see ul’totafot) we could presently use, plus a big resting room (see hadlakat haner) like a library or personal den [3] where we could relax together.

During all the meandering through our new house, my children came home from school, each happily exploring his or her newly given domain. They were so happy!

The little town, like a small New England town perhaps, liked us too. There were only a few Jews in the little New Englandy town, including us, but we were really wanted there. It felt so good. They liked us. They loved us, in fact.

I explained to my children how we would work the holidays. It was okay to be happy for those of other beliefs. It was okay to say merry christmas to their schoolfriends. It was ok to accept and love their friends as they were.

And their friends did likewise. In my dream, it was truly a situation where everyone appreciated everyone else for his or her uniqueness. I loved this place! Even if there were only a handful of people who were Jewish like me. I absolutely adored this wonderful little town in my dream. We were all going to be truly happy here.

A guest came to our house after my husband came home. He was a friend of my husband’s. I ignored him mostly because he was there to visit my husband. But, the guest wanted me to examine (see megihim) his arm, since I was a nurse and it was hurting him. It was his left arm.

He took off his sleeve [1] and I observed that the arm and hand appeared to be badly “coming undone”. It was red and swollen yet white [4] and shrunken (see tefillin gassot) at the wrist area like something had been too tight there, squeezing out all the blood (see lifeforce and nefesh). I scanned (see mishmeret STa”M) the arm more closely.

The muscle was windingly coiled (see retzuah) around the arm like cords coming loose and getting ready to fall off [5]. The cords of muscle (see lion syndrome and tiferet) reminded me, even in the dream, of the arm tefillin. His arm was in bad shape. All the muscle was about to fall off. The hand was badly inflamed. It looked burning hot, but it was so raw I dared not touch it lest I make it worse. I didn’t have the training or tools to treat his particular ailment myself (da’at, the axis of self-consciousness). He needed to go to the hospital (of divine delight, ta’anug of keter).

I told my husband and his guest that the guest really need to go to the hospital to get his arm and hand medically treated by trained experts at the hospital. It was in seriously bad shape, but if he went now, it wasn’t too late to fix it. If he didn’t get the arm treated right away, it might require amputation [5] to keep whatever was wrong with the arm from spreading throughout the entire body.

I woke up.


[1] Tefillin can be damaged by sweat, and Mezuzos by damaged by sun and rain. “Any loss of the squareness may affect the halachic status of the tefillin and therefore if the inner cover on the shel yad gets lost, one should replace it immediately lest the slight daily rubbing of one’s sleeve against the bayis damage its shape. Likewise, the author cautions against prolonged exposure to heat, sunlight or moisture.” Jewish Observer book review, reviewer R’ Lasbish Becker

[2] “The knot of the tefillin of the head is the intermediary between the tefillin of the arm and the head, and the knot is where the mochin of Leah are. And, the tefillin of the arm is where the mochin of Rachel is.” R’ Eliezer Berland @ Shuvu Bonim. In the dream, the knot is intact and the “roof” (tevunah, comprehension) is being built.

[3] Rectified din if associated with the voice of the shofar, from the same root ספר as sofer (סופר) and soferet (סופרת) – where in this dream, I am a soferet examining the “place” of the tefillin shel yad.

[4] “Harav Moshe Feinstein was asked: How much whiteness on the Tefillin straps renders them invalid? He is quoted (Guide To Practical Halachah, pg. 158) as answering: ‘For what is needed for the Shiur, we are stringent – even if a tiny drop is not black the area must be repainted. Beyond that, the amount does not matter unless it is really noticeable.'” R’ Doniel Neustadt @

[5] “Reb Elazar Ben Yaakov said that whoever has tefillin on his head and on his arm, tzitzis on his garment, mezuzos on his doors, is assured that he will not sin, as it is stated, ‘And a three-ply cord is not easily severed.'” Chazal

artistic credit:
graphic made from woman with tefillin @ Leonard Nimoy Photography


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