T Nation

Question for the Hebrews

I was flying back to Cali the other day and had a layover in Chicago.

There was a young Jewish boy there, wearing the black slacks, jacket, white shirt, and black fedora style hat. Couldn’t have been but 12 or 13.

Anyway, shortly before his flight he pulled some gear out of a bag, a book and some straps and some sort of block.

Well, he proceded to wrap his straps all over his right arm, then strapped this block on to the top of his head. Once that was completed he sat down and started reading. After a short period of time reading he began to rock back and forth, mouthing the scripture he was reading to himself.

I really wanted to ask him what he was doing and what all of it meant, but I didn’t want to interrupt what was clearly a preparatory ritual of sorts before he started reading.

So, can anyone help me out? What does all the accoutrement mean? Why did he wrap straps on his arm and put a block on his head? What was he reading? Why do they wear the black hat, jacket, and slacks? Is it a specific sect of Jewish religion?

By no means am I attempting to belittle what he was doing, everybody has their own thing, I’m just trying to quell my own curiosity…

Thanks in advance,


He was praying according to an ancient ritual called Tellifin. The following link will answer all your questions:


Hasidic Jews dress in the black suits with that type of hat. I have no idea about the straps or blocks.

Answer to first question:
It’s called Tefillin, which is basically boxes with prayer scriptures in it.

Answer to second question:
The black attire, with hat and such is worn by Hasidic, or more specifically Chabad Lubovich Jews. You were right about them being a specific sect of the Jewish religion.


Thanks for the info, now I’m glad I didn’t interrupt him seeing as how he would have to start the process all over again if I had.