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Apparently, tefillin are sexy — why do you think that is?

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“Putting on tefillin is hot,” says Cindy Seni, one of the contestants on Netflix’s Jewish Matchmaking. “Every Jewish woman, I don’t know what it is about tefillin, but we’re obsessed with it.”

I don’t know if every Jewish woman — or man — is obsessed with tefillin, but I have to agree that there’s something sexy about them, and I’m not alone. There’s an Instagram page called “Hot guys in tefillin” and plenty of tweets on the topic.

Tefillin are hot, sorry Gd, you commanded a Hot Prayer Accessory, it’s just a fact

— Maladroithe (@Maladroithe) October 19, 2022

Of course, not everyone agrees. On Reddit, one user said they found the fetishization of tefillin to be disrespectful to a sacred object. Others just don’t really see it, or find religiosity in general to be a turnoff.

But for those who are into the religious wrappings, what’s the appeal? I have some theories.

Devotion

If you’re religious, you probably want a partner who is similarly devoted to God. (This was a theme for several couples on Jewish Matchmaking.) Laying tefillin every morning is an act of devotion and spirituality that has obvious appeal to religious Jews looking for someone with a relationship to Hashem.

Seni herself said the same in an interview with Hey Alma. “I appreciate that the first thing a man does at the beginning of the day is realize that it’s not about them, and that there’s a higher power,” she said. “I think that’s what turns women on: that idea that you’re putting God before you.”

The leather

People love leather — how many models have posed in leather jackets? Laying tefillin may be the sign of a good Jewish boy, but the black leather still carries a bad boy association. Let’s be real: Leather is hot, whether or not it has parchment inscribed with Torah verses inside. A non-Jewish friend of mine once said she could imagine tefillin being the next big thing on the runway of New York Fashion Week.

The arm accentuation

It’s hard to argue with the fact that a tefillin strap wrapped around a well-muscled arm highlights the biceps; they make a flattering arm accessory. If you’re into arms, maybe you’re also into tefillin.

The bondage

OK, this is where some people probably think that a healthy admiration crosses the line into disrespect — when it becomes an actual fetish.

But I’ve seen tweets drooling over the marks tefillin leave in people’s arms when they remove them, which is awfully similar to posts in the fetish community about the imprint of rope bindings from BDSM play. After all, aren’t you literally binding yourself to God?

Years ago, I even had a non-Jewish friend, who was dating an Israeli man, ask me about the black leather straps she saw other Jewish men wear. “It does look a little like leather bondage kink,” she said.

Relatable or weird?

Let us know your thoughts on the relative hotness — or lack thereof — of tefillin in the form below. (It’s anonymous, I swear.)

The post Apparently, tefillin are sexy — why do you think that is? appeared first on The Forward.