From the OT lesson for Monday in the week of Trinity Sunday
18 You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead.
19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
To be honest, I’ve always believed the practice of orthodox Jewish men using phylactories as part of their prayer discipline to be a bit silly. But, to be even more honest, a lot of other religious practices including many of my own are also a bit silly. ~ When I did a little research into the meaning of silly, I found there is good reason for this. In its earliest origins the English word silly – which has come to mean foolish or stupid or feeble-minded – meant happy, fortuitous, or prosperous. Its closest contemporary cognate in another language is the German word selig, which carries the sense of blessedness, holy blissfulness, and happiness. Etymologists can trace the development of meaning attached to silly from “happy” to “blessed” to “pious” to “innocent” to “harmless” to “pitiable and weak” to “feeble-mind and foolish” over the course of less than 600 years of English linguistic history. ~ So, yes, using phylactories is silly; genuflecting, making the sign of the cross, wearing funny clothes (“vestments”), holding hands while praying over a Mexican dinner in a local restaurant . . . these, too, are silly. They are symbolic actions reminding us of the blessedness and holiness of life. We need more such reminders, many more. Which is why we need to remember them, to teach them to our children, and to talk about (and do) them at home and away, at night and in the morning.