According to your siddur, I need to put on Tallith and Tefillin before the Shma-prayers. That’s logical because the Shma-prayers make references to Talith and Tefillin. Between the recitation of Shma and Amida no interruption should be made, so I guess I can’t take off my Talith and Tefillin at that time. After the Amida, there is prostration during – I guess – the Tachanun-prayers. Does this mean that I should prostrate with my Talith and Tefillin on? This sounds strange to me. And in your diagram you show a person with only his Talith on and no Tefillin. I’m a bit confused. My question is: Is it possible or advisable to prostrate with or without Talith and / or Tefillin on?
One dons Tefillin and Tallith before the Shema prayers. This is universal Jewish practice, and it is proper to do in any case. Haz”al said that one who recites Shema’ without Tefillin on is כאילו as though he is giving false testimony. Certainly, if no Tefillin is available, you should say Shema even without Tefillin on. But if you have Tefillin available, then you should put it on before saying the Shema prayers.
Concerning prostration – correct; We are to prostrate during the Tahanun prayers. If you have room, prostrate fully פשוט ידיים ורגליים, as seen in figure 9 below. If you do not have enough room to prostrate fully, prostrate partially, similar to how we do so during the Amida, as seen in figure 8 below.
And yes, you prostrate with your Talith and Tefillin on – if it is a regular day of the week. It is more comfortable to prostrate wearing smaller Tefillin than with large Tefillin, for obvious reasons. If you look closely, you should be able to see the Tefillin represented in the diagram. It should not seem strange to you. The Kohanim, when serving in the Temple, would prostrate with Tefillin. There is nothing wrong with prostrating with Tefillin or a Talith on. It is not a problem that the Talith or Tefillin happen to touch the ground if this is done in a respectful manner. One should be praying in a clean environment in any case. Ideally one prays in a synagogue which is appointed specifically for prayer. This simply shows us the necessity for maintaining a clean floor in a synagogue, or any other place designated for prayer, and the practicality in removing shoes before entering a synagogue – even though Haz”al stated that one is allowed to enter a synagogue with shoes on.
NOTE: Haz”al felt it necessary to specify that one is allowed to enter a synagogue with shoes on because they didn’t think people would assume that it is ok to do so. This is the same as how they felt it necessary to specify that one is allowed to enter a synagogue wearing only an under-shirt, or even spit if needed. These are clearly not recommendations. If need be, it is allowed to do these things in difficult scenarios.
R’ Yosef Eliyah
If it is Shabbath or a Biblical Holy Day, you should not put on Tefillin. We do, however, don Tefillin on the New Moon (Rosh Hodesh) and during the intermediate days of Pesah and Sukkoth.
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