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Tefillin (phylactery) are described as an \'Ote\' (a sign) of the covenant between Hashem - G-d - and Israel:
A set of Tefillin has the \'Shel Rosh\' (head-phylactery) and the \'Shel Yad\' (arm-phylactery) with corresponding straps. The Shel Rosh and Shel Yad each contain four passages, hand written on parchment, from the Torah. Exodus 13: 1-10, 11-16, Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, 11: 13-21. The Shel Yad, worn bound to the forearm, parallel to the heart, represents Hashem\'s strength and the directing of our hearts and emotions to His service. We dedicate our intellect and thoughts to Hashem with the crowning of the Shel Rosh on our head. Thirteen is when a young man reaches the age of accountability for the Torah and Hashem\'s Mitzvahs (commandments). He becomes a Bar Mitzvah and begins donning Tefillin.
Ellen Miller Braun\'s beautiful design repeats these four Torah portions, four times each. The words form the outline of the Shel Rosh and Shel Yad and fill the front (black area) of the Tefillin\'s straps. The back of the straps (gray areas) are created using the blessings, recitations and declaration of intent that are recited before and during the laying of Tefillin. Using flowing red ink, Ellen repeats the words \'Shel Rosh\' filling the head phylactery, while the words \'Shel Yad\' fill the arm phylactery. Shema Israel Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad (Hear, O Israel: Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One) frames the border of the piece, with the word, Tefillin, centered at the bottom. This piece flows with beauty and grace, yet is the essence of strength and spirituality.
In Jewish numerology, the letter \'dalet\', the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, equals the number four. The word \'dalet/delet means door. Your prayers are a personal doorway to Hashem. With the donning of Tefillin and daily prayer, you are given the opportunity to open a door between yourself and The Holy One Blessed Be He. May all of your prayers be answered.
Ellen Miller Braun was born and educated in Chicago Illinois, U.S.A. She studied fine arts at Northeastern Illinois University. An ardent Zionist, Ellen immigrated to Israel with her husband and children in 1983. They live in Ginot Shomron, in the Biblical hills of Samaria. Ellen\'s traditionally observant Jewish background has guided and inspired her in the development of the Biblical themes of her artwork.