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On the Observance of Customs

Morning Conduct

   Conduct Immediately Upon Waking

The Morning Blessings



The Morning Service: Shacharis

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Sefer HaMinhagim
The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs

Morning Conduct
Translated by Uri Kaploun

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Cf. Siddur, p. 12

The following is a general directive. One begins to put on tefillin two months before one's bar-mitzvah,[29] though one begins to recite the blessing only after a few weeks have passed.[30]

It is the custom of some people to put on the hand-tefillin while seated, for reasons stated in the Zohar, and to be seated while reciting the [preceding] blessing.[31]

After placing the hand-tefillin on the biceps, but before tightening it in place, one recites the blessing l'haniach tefillin, bearing in mind as well the head-tefillin. The slip-knot is then drawn tight in order to fasten the thong [that passes through the base of the tefillin (Fig. 12) before encircling the arm]. (One must be careful that the yud-shaped knot at the end of the thong should not slip loose from the cube of the tefillin.) Some people then proceed to bind the thong twice over the base of the tefillin and around the arm, so that together with the initial circuit of the thong [that began by passing through the base of the tefillin] the letter shin is formed.[32]

[The Rebbe Rashab wrote:] "With regard to the thong that is wound around the arm and hand, my father (the Rebbe Maharash) taught me to wind it seven times, including the two half-circuits [at either end of the forearm. Counting from the crease of the elbow, the pattern is thus as follows (Fig. 13):] The first half-circuit is followed by two full circuits close to each other; a space is then left, followed by four complete circuits, and then the final diagonal half-circuit which crosses the back of the hand. There, together with an additional circuit that is now wound around the hand, it forms something like the letter daled in reverse."[33]

"I am well nigh certain that the custom as I saw it practiced by my father (the Rebbe Maharash) was the following: From the palm of the hand, the thong is wound once around the base joint of the middle finger, once around the middle joint, and once again on top of the first circuit.[34] The remainder of the thong is wound repeatedly around the hand on top of the additional circuit that was earlier wound around the palm of the hand. (This differs from the custom of those who make the remaining circuits around the hand radiate fanwise, so that they form the letter shin on the back of the hand.)"[35]

It was observed that in the course of the davenen the Rebbe Rashab would see to it that the third circuit around the middle finger should not completely cover the first circuit; rather, it was a little closer to the second circuit, where it was held in place by the edge of the first.[36]

One should take particular care that the head-tefillin is constantly positioned exactly at the midpoint of the width of the head.[37]

If one speaks between putting on the hand-tefillin and the head-tefillin, the blessing al mitzvas tefillin should be said over the latter.[37]

The two side thongs hanging from the head-tefillin should extend to the legs.[38]

It has become customary to use another's tefillin even though this may mean that the knot of the head-tefillin may have to be changed to fit. This does not affect the knot's being considered permanent.[39]

Those who pray in four pairs of tefillin should follow this order:

  1. The hand-tefillin and head-tefillin of Rashi are put on before eizehu m'koman (Siddur, p. 23), and one prays in them until after ach tzaddikim (p. 85).

  2. The head-tefillin of Rashi is removed, and replaced - without a blessing - by that of Shimusha Rabba. The Shema is recited until Emes, and Tehillim is recited according to the day of the month. It was the custom of those who were particular, to study the commentaries of Rashi and Metzudos on the daily reading of Tehillim.

  3. One then puts on the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam, again without a blessing, and recites the Shema (p. 46) until Emes, the passage beginning kadeish (p. 85), and the sheish z'chiros as they appear in the Siddur (p. 86). One then studies a chapter of Mishnayos according to his level of understanding.

  4. The head-tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam is removed, and replaced - without a blessing - by that of Raavad. One recites the Shema until Emes, and studies the portion of the week's Sidra (with the commentary of Rashi) that corresponds to the day of the week; e.g., on Sunday until Sheni, on Monday until Shlishi, and so on.[40]



  1. (Back to text) HaYom Yom, p. 75.

    The Rebbe Shlita writes in a letter [reprinted in his Igrois Koidesh, Vol. XVII, p. 61]: "It is common knowledge that some of the Acharonim hold (as recorded in the commentaries to the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, end of sec. 37) that since tefillin require that one's body be clean, one should not begin to wear them before their mandatory time, especially in these times of ours. Nevertheless, since my father-in-law, the [Previous] Rebbe, explicitly described this statement of his as 'a general directive,' we are commanded to fulfill the words of the latter Sages, especially where they directed that their view in this be made public (lit., 'a directive to the public')."

    See also the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch, sec. 37, end of para. 3: "And now it is the custom to train [a bar-mitzvah boy] for two or three months before the [mandatory] time."

  2. (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita notes: "I.e., [one begins reciting the berachah] when one has acquired proficiency in putting on the tefillin in the correct manner and position." [Cf. his Igrois Koidesh, Vol. VI, p. 76.]

  3. (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe's Siddur; see also his Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 25:27. [This custom is not common usage.]

  4. (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe's Siddur.

  5. (Back to text) Notes on the Siddur Torah Or (Kehot, N.Y., 1941) and on the Siddur im Dach.

  6. (Back to text) It will be noted that in the section on Hilchos Tefillin in his Siddur , the Alter Rebbe holds otherwise.

  7. (Back to text) Notes on the Siddur Torah Or and on the Siddur im Dach.

  8. (Back to text) Note by R. Eliyahu Simpson.

  9. (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe's Siddur.

  10. (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, end of sec. 27: "The thong should reach as far as the plexus." In the Tur: "Some say, 'As far as the place of the circumcision.'" From the statement in Pri Etz Chayim, Shaar Tefillin 10, that "it is advisable to place the ensure that they do not touch the ground," one may deduce that the thongs are customarily longer than the above-mentioned lengths. (Note by the Rebbe Shlita in Kuntreis 78, p. 209.)

  11. (Back to text) Based on a letter of the Rebbe Shlita [reprinted in his Igrois Koidesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 378], an extract of which follows.

    "The Responsa entitled Avnei Nezer (on Orach Chayim, end of sec. 183) states: 'It is not right to use another's head-tefillin, because since the knot will later be altered by the owner to fit his size, it is now not permanent. Accordingly, the borrower will not have fulfilled his obligation. It is a mitzvah to publicize this matter.'

    "Common practice, however, has determined otherwise. Strong evidence in favor of this is the unqualified statement of the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 14:4 (cited too in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch 14:12) that 'One may wear another's tefillin....' This permission has likewise been cited by a number of Acharonim, and nowhere is it restricted to the unusual case in which the borrower's head exactly happens to match the owner's. Objections by various scholars to the view held by the author of Avnei Nezer have been recorded in that work (loc. cit., sec. 184 and 185).

    "The common practice cited above has been justified in Kli Chemdah on the Torah (Parshas Vayeilech), on the following grounds:

    1. In keeping with the view of Ramban, the knot of the tefillin does not have to be permanent;

    2. a knot which is bound for the duration of its mitzvah is considered permanent. This source proceeds to explain the seeming contradictions to this view in other texts."

    See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, p. 227, which explains at length that wherever the Torah commands us to tie a knot, this very command gives it a dimension of permanence.

  12. (Back to text) HaYom Yom, p. 80; see also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 507ff.

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