From the Rav’s Desk: How to pack tefillin in a backpack, on top or on bottom?

  • Question: [Tuesday, 4th Iyar 5783]

I commute every morning to outside of the city and use a backpack for my Tallis and tefillin, siddur, Sefarim, as well as other items that I will need for the day. My question is regarding whether I need to be particular to place the tefillin on top of the backpack so nothing sits on top of it, or if I may place it on the bottom of the backpack and have everything else rest on top of it. It simply is more secure and is more space efficient when it’s on the bottom of the backpack but I’m not sure if this is allowed? Please let me know.


If you place the tefillin in a separate undesignated bag, such as a simple plastic grocery bag, then it is permitted to for you to place it on the bottom of the backpack and have other things placed on top of it. If they are not in a separate undesignated bag, then nothing should rest on top of the tefillin and it should hence be positioned on the top area of the backpack.

Explanation: It is forbidden to rest items on top of the Tefillin, even if the Tefillin are inside their designated bag. However, if the tefillin are placed in an undesignated bag, then many Poskim rule that the Tefillin may even be placed on the floor, and hence seemingly we can also allow items to be placed on top of them in such a case. Accordingly, recommended placing the tefillin in a plastic shopping bag in order to be allowed to then place items on top of it.

Sources: See regarding the prohibition against placing items on top of tefillin: Shaareiy Teshuvah 40:3 in name of Shalmei Tzibur See the following Poskim who rule that Tefillin may even be placed on the floor if they are in an undesignated bag: M”A 43:13 in name of Rashi “It is permitted to be placed on the floor”; Shut Tashbeitz 3:26, brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah 40:2; Biur Halacha 43:6 “Umanichan” in name of M”A  in name of Rashi; Piskeiy Teshuvos 40:6; So rules Ginzei Kodesh 3:25 regarding Sefarim in a bag

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