by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
“What is so special about tefillin? You seem to stress this mitzvah so much.”
There is so much to say about each of the mitzvahs, and in truth, no one mitzvah is more special than the next. All of them have been commanded to us by the same Holy Authority, so we fulfill each of them with the same love and awe.
When King Dovid was a shepherd-boy he found himself defending the lives and honor of the Jewish people.[i] He alone stepped forward to accept the challenge that Goliath, the evil, one-eyed giant, hurled at the Jewish soldiers. Indeed, the Jews were intimidated by this vicious giant. As Dovid was going out to fight the giant, King Saul tried to arm young Dovid with the King’s armor, but Dovid could not walk with that heavy armor. Instead, Dovid ran out to battle armed only with his shepherd’s sling.[ii]
Goliath laughed at the young boy, and he taunted Israel for sending a mere lad to fight for them, but Dovid wasted no time. He had taken five smooth stones from a brook, and now he put one of them into his sling. He ran toward the evil giant and hurled the stone at him. It found its target. The stone sunk into the fierce giant’s forehead, and he was knocked out. Dovid then ran over, picked up the giant’s own sword, and swiftly cut off his huge head! This encouraged the Jewish camp so much that they were able to run after the Philistines and slaughter them.
What does this story have to do with tefillin? Remember, the Torah is always speaking on many levels. Yes, this story happened literally at that time way back then, but this battle is still going on today.
In this story, the evil, one-eyed giant is our very own evil inclination. It rises up against us and taunts us whenever we try to do something good. It continually fights to have its evil way. Indeed, it is a frightening giant! What can we do? We seem so weak when confronted with those flaming lusts that he roars at us from within our heads.
Here is what we can do: Have you ever seen a shepherd’s sling? They are not like our slingshots today. Today, we pull back rubber strips and then release them so that they will hurl the stone forward. The shepherds’ slings in those days (and still today) were long thin leather straps tied to a leather pouch that holds the stone. Got the idea yet?
We pick up five smooth stones from the brook. These are the Five Books of Moshe. We put one of them in the pouch of our sling – If you think that you do not have a sling, take a closer look at the head piece of your tefillin in the morning. Now swing it over your head and smack that evil, one-eyed giant right above his forehead. That’s right. When we place the tefillin on our foreheads, we knock out that giant.
But tefillin only knock out that giant. To actually kill him, we must use his own sword. We do this by taking the very evil things that he wants us to do, and we do them in a holy way. Whatever our evil inclination wants, we can find a kosher way to satisfy that desire. Depending on the desire, we can make it kosher whether through holy marriage, wonderful kosher dining, or honest hard work.
[i] Shmuel 17:23
[ii] See There Is One, Section 73.
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא