Sew Jewish Book / Torah and Mitzvot

Holy Tefillin Bag, Batgirl!

Here’s the introduction to the tefillin bag project from Sew Jewish book. It’s one of my favorite project intros in the book, since there’s more to the simple tefillin bag than meets the eye.

Tefillin Bag

Set Me for a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. (Song of Songs 8:6)

The tefillin bag might seem like just a mini version of the tallit bag, but it’s perhaps much more special. Several classic Jewish texts say that the tefillin bag has the potential to become a holy object because it holds the tefillin. The tefillin are the leather boxes strapped to the arm and forehead during weekday morning prayers. They contain pieces of parchment printed with passages from the Torah. The pieces of parchment are sacred objects. Some authorities hold that the tefillin straps themselves are also sacred, which would make the bag that holds them holy, too. In fact, the Mishnah, a collection of commentaries on the Torah, says that the tefillin bag is one of only four objects that are important enough to be carried out of a burning synagogue on Shabbat; important enough that a person can break the Jewish laws that otherwise would prevent them from carrying objects outside on Shabbat. The other objects are a Torah scroll, a Torah wrap, and the tefillin themselves. This tefillin bag is a simple-to-make project with a very special purpose.

We’re starting to feel kind of official: this week the Library of Congress sent us their number for Sew Jewish (2015915827), which means we can release it soon! [Update: It’s now available from local bookstores and Judaica shops and from Amazon.]

And this week we changed the name of our YouTube channel to make it easier to find. The new name: Sew Jewish. Ok, that should have been the name we chose when we posted the first video. Another step closer to feeling officially official. Thanks for joining us on this ride!

Maria BywaterMaria Bywater is the author of Sew Jewish: The 18 Projects You Need for Jewish Holidays, Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebrations, and Home. She teaches hands-on Judaica sewing workshops.