May a Catholic Priest wear Tefillin?

Yes. You read the title correctly! Yeshiva World printed an article recently over Rabbi Shraga Brand’s decision to don tefillin on a Catholic Priest who was halakhically Jewish.

The opinion piece in Yeshiva World provided a Halakhic analysis of Rabbi Brand’s decision and the author of the article frowned on this practice, but this issue is quite relevant to the topic of Benei Anusim or the descendants of Crypto-Jews.

The issue of tefillin and uncircumcised Conversos was briefly addressed in a previous post o this site. What is truly fascinating in the discussion over Rabbi Brand’s decision is PBOOK0032that we see, in practical form, some of the very halakhic conundrums that were dealt with by rabbis of the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries and in many cases even today with regards to the Conversos and their descendants.

Whatever your perspective is, the article at the link below is worth checking out.

MUTAR OR ASUR: The Photo Of The Priest And The Tefillin – A Halachic Analysis

For more on the topic of Jewish attitudes towards apostates and converts, be sure to checkout the third chapter of Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism.

Posted by Rabbi Dr. Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez the director of the B’nei Anusim Center for Education. For a more complete review of Iberian Jewish history and the Crypto- Jewish Experience see Conversos and the Sabbatean Movement, and The Rise of the Inquisition.

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