How are Tefilin Removed?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 28:2) says that when removing the Tefilin, the Tefilin Shel Rosh are removed first. This is learned from the verse “Totafot Ben Enecha”, that when one wears the Tefilin between one’s eyes (that is, Shel Rosh), one should on have both Tefilin (Totafot is plural). This is not so regarding Tefilin Shel Yad and so it follows that The Tefilin Shel Yad are removed afterwards. Furthermore, the Tefilin Shel Rosh and Shel Yad should be removed in the manner that they are placed, that is, standing and sitting, respectively.Rabbi Israel Elnekave (Menorat Hama’or, vol. I, pg. 70) writes that there is a custom to wrap the Tefilin Shel Rosh, and according to the Ritva (Shabbat 49a) the Tefilin Shel Yad as well, like the wings of a dove to commemorate the miracle of Elisha Ba’al Haknafayim. The Gemara (Shabbat 49a) which relates the story of a certain Elisha who was wearing Tefilin during a Roman decree which forbade donning Tefilin under penalty of death. When a Roman official approached him he quickly removed his Tefilin Shel Rosh and the Roman asked him what was in his hands. Elisha responded that he had dove wings in his hand and miraculously real dove wings appeared, and henceforth he was referred to as Elish Ba’al Haknafayim. The Gemara explains that this even involved a dove because a dove uses its wings to protect itself from predators. Just as the dove’s wings protects the dove so too the Mitzvot, such as tefilin, protect the Jewish people. Indeed there is a custom that can still be observed among older Moroccans to fold the straps of the Tefilin Shel Rosh like dove wings.The Magen Avraham (O.H. 28:4) writes that there is an opinion that the straps should not be wrapped directly onto the box of the Tefilin since the latter have a higher level of holiness. As such, there is an added benefit for wrapping the straps like dove wings since the will not come into contact with the box. Nowadays most Tefilin are placed in a protective case to prevent the straps from touching the box, but the it is still proper to wrap them like dove wings.The Shulhan Aruch (ibid:3) also says that it is the custom of Torah scholars to kiss the Tefilin when donning them and when removing them. The Ben Ish Hai adds that once they are wrapped and ready to be put away, they should also be kissed to show love towards the Mitzvot.Summary:  The Tefilin Shel Rosh are removed before the Tefilin Shel Yad and this is done standing up. The Tefilin Should be kissed upon their removal.