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Buying My First Tefillin – Beit Yosef or AriZal


Hi Rabbi,

I come from a non-observant family and am starting to reconnect with Jewish traditions and would like to buy tefillin. However, because it’s been a couple of generations since anyone in my family was observant, I do not know whether my family would use Beit Yosef or AriZal tefillin.

My entire family are Ashkenazi – mostly from Belarus and Ukraine on my father’s side and mostly from Hamburg and Lithuania on my mother’s side. My paternal line ancestors came from the shtetl of Volyntsy (וולינצי) in Belarus, near Vitebsk. Histories of the shtetl say that there was only a shtiebl and no shul in the village, and for major occasions, people would go to the shul in the nearby town of Drissa (דרייצין). The Rabbis of Drissa throughout this period were from the Don-Yahya (דון יחיא) family of Lubavitcher Chassidim. Should I buy AriZal tefillin rather than Beit Yosef?




It depends on the community that you belong to at this point. Meaning that if you are living in a community that wears Beit Yosef, and then buy Beit Yosef, however if you are living in a community that wears Arizal, then get that. Similar to this, if you are adapting the minhagim of the yeshiva, or Rabbi that as mekarev you, then go according to that.

In the event that none of the above are applicable, and you will go back to the custom of your great grandparents, then put on Beit Yosef. This is because the mere fact that the people of the town davened in a Lubavitcher shul, is not enough to establish that this is your minhag. If your family had regular Ashkenazi Minhagim, then they put on tefillin with Beit Yosef tefillin, and the shul that they occasionally visited will not change this in regards to you.

Best wishes


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