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Hilchos Tefillin 27 (page 73)

D oes a Chatzitza Nullify the Tefillin?
Must a Watch be Removed?
Placing the Tefillin Over a Bandage 


Does a chatzitza nullify the tefillin? 

According to most Rishonim, a chatzitza between the arm/head and the tefillin nullifies the mitzva. Even a minute chazitza that interferes with only a small area of the tefillin presents a problem. A second opinion holds that a chatzitza does not disqualify the mitzva. Nonetheless, it is important that the shel yad be placed under the garments and not over them. Chazal understood from the wording of "it shall serve as a sign for you" that this sign is only for you and not [to wear on the outside] for others. The halacha follows the first opinion.

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Must a watch be removed?

The previous discussion about chatzitza pertains to the bayis, the retzuos around the head, and the part that forms the knot of the shel yad. According to most poskim, one may be lenient regarding a chatzitza under the retzuos that wrap around the forearm and hand. There are, however, some poskim who are stringent even there; according to them, a watch in that area constitutes a chatzitza.

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Placing the tefillin over a bandage

Someone who has a bandage in the area of the shel rosh may put on his tefillin without a beracha, even according to the Rama who requires a separate beracha on the shel rosh.  If the shel yad is placed on a bandaged biceps, a beracha is recited on the shel rosh alone, just as it would be recited if someone only had a shel rosh (see SA 26:2). If a bandage is located in the area of the retzuos, either on the head or hand, the beracha may be recited. The Acharonim discuss whether or not a plaster cast is treated as a bandage.

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  • Someone who lost his arm from the point where the tefillin can be worn and below is exempt from wearing tefillin. There is an opinion, however, that he should wear it on his right arm without a beracha.
  • The tefillin are tied to the arm by slipping the long end of the retzua into a loop on the short end of the retzua. This loop is located on the right side of a right-handed person's tefillin, adjacent to the yud. Preferably, the loop should be small enough that when the arm is down, the loop/knot will be near the heart.
  • One end of the retzua of the shel yad is tied to resemble a yud. The yud should press against the bayis, and according to one opinion the yud must touch the bayis even when stored in the case. There was a practice to wrap a gid around the base of the tefillin to hold the yud to the walls of the bayis. The Acharonim were opposed to this practice because part of the gid ran beneath the bayis and was a chatzitza between the bayis and the arm.





  • Why a lefty wears his tefillin on his right arm

  • Someone who writes with one hand and performs the rest of his work with his other hand

  • Lefty through habituation