Phylactery Day!

What is she talking about?

Most of my Jewish friends will recognize this word, some won’t and probably the majority of my non-Jewish friends following this blog will have a hard time even saying this word: phylactory

(Sounds like factory: FIL-ACT-OREE).

This is what a phylactery is: not clear? Composing of 3 parts, black leather straps, black leather boxes, and parchment with holy prayers calligraphied on them worn by Jewish men during morning prayers. In Hebrew these are called Tefillin (sounds like TA-FILL-IN). There are 2 sets, one for the head and one worn on the arm.

 To the left is the piece worn on the head. No, this model is not rocking out to the heavy metal gods, he is measuring or adjusting to make certain it rests above the hairline. I guess bald guys, just estimate that, I dunno. To the right is the piece worn on the hand and arm. When wrapped on the hand it makes the shape of the Hebrew letter “Shin” which is the first letter of the prayer tucked away inside the boxes called the “Shema”.

As a woman I am happy that we don’t wear these. It seems really time-consuming and honestly as holy and awesome as it is and how it’s made, I like the opportunity to pray strap free, especially if I haven’t had any coffee yet. This seems like it takes brain power.

The custom is (though they vary) that the month before a boy turns 13 years old and celebrates his Bar Mitzvah, he puts on his tefillin for the first time. I imagine it’s a big deal for a kid. So we bought pastries for all the other men praying this morning and celebrated (for like a minute) with just enough time for pictures, even though the baby (who is 4) refused to smile (so angry at him) before I got frantic and started panicking that everyone was going to be late for camp!

What makes this day a little funnier though is that this first child of ours keeps trying to outshine his parents. How’s that? See, most people know that after a Jewish baby boy is born, on the child’s 8th day he is circumcised. In Hebrew this is called a Brit Milah, lots of family and friends come together to celebrate this event. It is also when the baby is officially named, a big day for the little guy. Well, this kid was born 8 days before his dad’s birthday. Of course we had a special cake for my husband’s birthday but he felt like that day was all about the kid, and it was for the most part. So today, is officially my birthday. Of all days to put on his tefillin for the very first time…on MY birthday??? What a little up-stager!

Of course I am kidding around and not really upset. Both me and my husband are proud of him and happy to see him reach this milestone and are willing to share our special days with him. Watching your children grow into adults is a strange and wonderful thing. It makes them so much more special. As long as I get a cake at the end of the day!

Knowing what a crazy day it was going to be I planned for this big ol’ birthday of mine. I conveniently placed the festive birthday napkins with confetti and “40” decorated on them in the pantry next to a Duncan Hines cake mix. I figure I’d help the fam out and give them the tools to throw me a family birthday dinner celebration. I even took the whole day off so I could feel relaxed, not rushed, and gave my hubby the car. He’ll have the easy ride home and not have to rely on public transportation so he can be home earlier and we’ll all celebrate together.  How totally unselfish of me!!!

The secret plan is to have a quick pasta dinner and then take all the kids out for FREEZEES!!!! to celebrate this great day for numero uno. (And me I love love love slushies, great b-day gift – Snoopy Snow Cone Machine – write that down). So today the plan is to end it as it began, though with freezee cups raised in unison, cheering, “happy phylactery day”!

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