Thursday, March 10, 2005

Tefillin: A mitzvah and an acupuncture technique!

I have much more experience with tefillin (six times a week, 21 years) than acupuncture (never), so I can't evaluate Dr. Steven Schram's research. He is the author of "Tefillin: An Ancient Acupuncture Point Prescription for Mental Clarity" (PDF), a 2002 article for the Journal of Chinese Medicine.

The paper features diagrams of tefillin-laying and explanations of the various acupuncture points they stimulate.

Some excerpts:
The acknowledged purpose of the tefillin is to raise spiritual consciousness of the men who wear it. If we examine where the knots and wrappings are placed from a TCM point of view, it appears that the tefillin and wraps form a potent acupuncture point formula focused on the Governing vessel (Du Mai) and aimed at elevating the spirit and clearing the mind.

I explored the four major variations in wrapping procedures: Chassidic, Sefardim, Sefard, and Ashkenazi. By experimenting on myself with these different wrapping procedures, I was able to map out the significant acupuncture points that are stimulated through the procedure.

If someone handed an acupuncturist the above point formula and asked what was being treated, there is little doubt that mental and shen issues would be a strong part of the pattern. What is surprising is that such a point formula would be found in a non-Chinese procedure that has been continuously practised for many thousands of years. It may be that the originators of the tefillin ritual had some inkling of its special effects, even though they may have lacked the depth and specific knowledge we have today.

Regardless of the belief system behind the procedure, it seems clear that putting on tefillin is a unique way of stimulating a very precise set of acupuncture points that appears designed to clear the mind and harmonise the spirit.

In an article for the layman, "Super Charge Your T'fillin: The Secret's in the Wrap" (PDF), Dr. Schram explains how precisely to wrap your tefillin to best stimulate the acupuncture points:
It is important to understand that acupuncture points have very specific locations, and you must be exactly on the point for it to be stimulated. A quarter inch off the position results in missing that point. This means that you must remain aware of where you wrap the retzuah and you must do it carefully. To get the greatest benefit, (because the effects of point stimulation are cumulative), you should wrap exactly the same way every time you don T'fillin.

Donning T'fillin remains a great spiritual mitzvah based on a Torah commandment going back over 3300 years. Because the information presented in this paper is in full accordance with the various Halachic and traditional guidelines, there should be no barrier to the inclusion and application of this knowledge to your ritual use of T'fillin. By stimulating the acupuncture points that already lie along the path of the retzuah, you can bring about a heightened mental clarity to your prayers. The result of doing this can only enhance your mental and spiritual experience, allowing you to fulfill the Mitzvah to its highest degree.

To think all these years I've been receiving daily acupressure treatment without knowing it!


Batya said...

Makes sense, not that I've ever worn them, being a gal happy to be a gal.

Rebeljew said...

Please read my blog on this story. This basically says that Tefilin hints to nonsense. Why we are even considering chi, meridians, yin / yang triple heater imaginary organs, and imaginary pulses in the 21st century, let alone in Judaism? It simply a method to victimize vulnerable people, by selling them expensive placebos and hanging false hopes, and I find it disgusting to practice and to support.

For the skinny on acupuncture, and search on it.

Zman Biur said...

I have no position on acupuncture, since I don't know enough about it to have a meaningful opinion. Sounds to me like the same is true of you. The QuackWatch data is not very convincing either.

Regardless, since this Tefillin article doesn't claim to treat anything or sell anything, I don't see why your reaction is so hostile. At worst, it's silly and useless. So what?

In any case, amusement was my major reason for posting on this subject. You're taking this way too seriously.