Because I Can

465

First you place the shel yad on the upper arm

No one dares look at her

When it’s tight enough, say the blessing

Someone turns and stares

Wrap the strap around your upper arm once

The whispering starts

Now wrap the strap around your forearm exactly seven times

She starts to walk towards the bimah

Put the shel rosh right between your eyes, at your hairline

Every eye is on her, watching, judging

Say the blessing and then say

She opens up her siddur

Barukh shem k’vod malchuto l’olam va’ed

The whispering gets louder

Wrap the arm strap once around your palm

She can hear someone say, “Isn’t that unhealthy?”

Wrap the strap once around your middle finger, saying

She starts to pray

V’erastich li l’olam

Her chin is up

Wrap it around the next knuckle, saying

Her eyes closed

V’erastich li b’tzedek u’v’mishpat, b’chesed u’v’rachamim

So maybe, just maybe,

Turn it back to the first knuckle

She can stop hearing their taunts

V’erastich li b’emunah, v’yadat et adonai

“You’re not a real Jew!”

Wrap your ring finger to your middle finger

“You don’t really know anything about the Torah!”

Bring the strap back to your palm

The sneer on their faces when she reads from the Torah

Then wrap the strap around the middle of your palm, again, and again

A hand goes up, to shield his eyes from the sight of a girl in t’fillin

See how it looks like the word shadai on your hand?

She leads anyway, appearing uncaring

The boxes should be right at your head

Standing tall, defying them all by learning and praying

And your heart

Inwardly asking

Why do you wear t’fillin?

Accompanying photo by Avrah Ross