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Tefillin are small leather boxes containing parchment scrolls on which are written excerpts from the Tanakh (specifically, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-20, Exodus 13:1-16).

Observant Jewish men past bar-mitzvah age strap one on one arm and the other around the head during the morning weekday synagogue service, in literal obedience to Deuteronomy 6:8, "You shall bind them [that is, God's mitzvot] for a sign on your hand and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes".

Other English versions of the New Testament have in Matthew 23:5 the word "phylacteries"; this transliterates the Greek word used in the text, "phulakterion", which means "safeguard, amulet, charm", and thus does not reflect the purpose of tefillin.