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orion A Beraita and Qumran Tefillin

Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 08:33:07 -0500
From: David Goldman <davic@pop.erols.com>
Subject: A Beraita and Qumran Tefillin

The Beraita from Tractace Menachot describes the order of the parchments
containing the biblical passages. The passage from Exodus 13:1-10 and
Exodus 13:11-16 are "from the right" and Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deut.
11:13-21 "from the left."

The placement of the passages in the tefillin found in Qumran follow both
what is referred to as the Rashi interpretation (in order according to
their appearance in the Torah from right to left) and the Rabbenu Tam
interpretation (where the two Exodus verses are in order from right to
left, and the two Deut. verses are in order from left to right).

The third interpretation exhibited in Qumran had the first Exodus passage
followed by the first Deut. passage from the right, followed by the second
Exod. passage and then the second Deut. passage. This would appear to be a
valid interpretation of the beraitha since the passages are being arranged
with the two Exod. passages on the right and the two Deut. on the left,
matching an Exodus on the right and a Deut. on the left. I would like to
know whether there are indeed any rabbinic sources that bring this third

The very appearance of tefillin at Qumran is interesting. Why would over 20
pairs be hidden there (as well as mezuzot)? I can think of only two
reasons: 1) They were ritually unuseable; and 2) They were being preserved
at a time when people were worried that they would lose knowledge of how to
make them during a time of upheaval. Otherwise, people would have had no
reason to keep their tefillin away from them. Furthermore, whoever made
these tefillin must have been some kind of Pharisees, since literalists
would have never agreed to a non-scriptural law regarding the meaning of
"totafot." And the fact that the order of the passages found in Qumran
corresponds to the tradition in the Beraitha suggests this too.

I look forward to anyone's comments.