The Same Religion?

This week my son will put on tefillin for the first time with a bracha. He will be barmitzvah a month after that. It is our family custom to start the boy off a month before so that by the time he is mechuyav he knows how to do it properly. Of course he has been practicing daily since he picked up his tefillin from the sofer. His older brother has helped him too – gets a little confusing as one is a rightie and the other a leftie.

I learned that Chabad starts the boys off two months before barmitzvah, and in some chassidishe places it is one week before. Now where on earth do we get such differing minhagim from? Isn’t it all the same Judaism? Does it really take a whole month to learn how to wind black leather straps around your arm seven times? And to do the horn thing with your fingers to make sure the shel rosh is properly placed?

Why do we have to practice? What else do we practice? And can you make a bracha when you are just practicing?

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  1. shorty says:

    traditions like these i don’t believe takes away from the mtizvah of tefilin. I guess the level of practicing depends on how long in the past it took to learn to do things properly, and what level of “imperfections” are allowed.

    what bugs me more is if say, each of the communities starts to criticize the other for not being Jewish enough because they only practice for X number of days.

  2. It is okay to make a full bracha when teaching children, even if you are not partaking of the mitzvah. I imagine something similar exists for BTs, although once your learn the basic formula for a bracha (as an adult) you can fairly easily practice without actually saying HaShem’s name.

  3. Mottel says:

    I don’t see why this of all things makes you wonder if we have the same religion – where as eating rice on Pesach or not), putting tefillin on Chol Hamoed or not and the like are far greater!
    I need to check in the holy books again, but as far I remember there is no set time for chinuch for tefillin – hence the difference in custom.
    We practice everything – we teach children to bentch, make brochos, shake lulav and esrog etc as they grow up. Because tefillin needs concentration and a certain level of maturity, we make an exception and wait to educate . . .
    Why does it bother you so?

  4. hadassahsabo says:

    its doesnt bother me as much as perplex me. Judaism seems logical to me, most of the time. discrepancies in observance perplex me, because we are all Jews. Shouldnt Judaism be the same religion for ALL Jews?

  5. Chanief says:

    I can’t remember the exact hebrew quote but isn’t there one that claims there are seventy faces to the Torah? This must be part of that concept. Judaism is like every other culture and religion in that it has evolved differently in diverse sections of the community and regions of the world.

  6. ilanadavita says:

    Isn’t what you are pointing out to the difference between minhagim and halakhah?

  7. Chanief says:

    Minhagim definitely vary more than halacha, but what is perceived to be halacha (vs what is a minhag) also seems to vary from group to group.

  8. G6 says:

    Yekkes put tefillin on 3 months before the bar mitzvah.
    Go figure.

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