Tefillin are a manifestation of a Jew's physical connection to his Creator – a spiritual conduit linking them powerfully yet intangibly. The Midrash tells us that just as a Jew wears tefillin that contain his affirmation of faith; the Creator puts on tefillin that affirm His love of the Jewish people.
To a young Jew becoming a bar/bat mitzvah, the tefillin should be an object of intense spiritual excitement. Sadly, in the modern world they are often archaic remnants of a previous age relegated to the dresser drawer after the initial photo-op; no longer relevant in the high speed world of computers and video games.
Kesher Tefillin is a project created to help give a budding Jew spiritual ownership of a mitzvah that might otherwise be alien to him. As a Jew approaches bar/bat-mitzvah, Kesher Tefillin facilitates and empowers his understanding of this beautiful mitzvah with a fusion of "hands on" creativity, learning and tangible results – a pair of kosher Tefillin!
Tefillin today are made with very sophisticated equipment and technology. Heavy leather is formed in hydraulic presses, sophisticated computer controlled machinery is used to shape, mold and color the tefillin. The results are, of course, beautiful. But did Moshe Rabainu make his Tefillin that way? I think not! Moshe Rabainu did not have hydraulic presses nor was there sophisticated machinery in the Sinai desert. Yet Moshe, of course, put on tefillin – as have Jews for untold generations since then. How did Moshe Rabainu make his tefillin?
Kesher Tefillin has an inspiration to share with you. Let us follow in the footsteps of Moshe Rabainu – hand-crafting our own tefillin in a way that Moshe might have done so. Let us together make a pair of kosher tefillin while discovering the spirit of the mitzvah of tefillin and learning the Halacha involved in creating and wearing them.
Taking a raw piece of parchment, each participant will cut, mold, fold emboss and color it, creating his very own tefillin. He will select and insert the parchment scrolls, attach and tie the straps. He will study the sources reviewing the holiness of the tefillin, the Halacha of making and using them. When completed, he will be finally don his new tefillin with the appropriate kavanot (intentions) and blessings.
Would a new Bar Mitzvah so cavalierly throw his tefillin in the drawer with his underwear if he had made them himself and truly understood what they meant?