Tefillin in Midrash

Many stories and Midrashim have been written about the Mitzvah of Tefillin. The self-sacrifice that Jews demonstrated in observing this Mitzvah, and the protection and saving power of Tefillin for those who keep this Mitzvah, are described in these moving, amazing and often miraculous stories.
The most famous miracle story dealing with self-sacrifice is that of the sage Elisha, who, through this story, earned the name Elisha Ba’al K’nafayyim -“Elisha of the Wings”. This source of this story is in the Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Shabbat 49.
The Romans ruled the Land of Israel for hundreds of years, including the latter part of the Second Temple Period. Rome ruled with a heavy hand, and often issued decrees that forbade free exercise of Judaism and the observance of its precepts. In reaction, Jews rose up to resist these decrees and the Romans did not flinch at using the most brutal means at their disposal to repress any sign of rebellion.
At one point, the Romans forbade the wearing of Tefillin. Any Jews daring to observe this Mitzvah was liable to the death sentence. Jews, many of whom were accustomed to wear Tefillin all day, and not only during prayers, were afraid and hid, only putting on Tefillin in private.
The sage Elisha had a special love for this Mitzvah and had the custom of going about crowned with Tefillin all the time and every day, even when he walked in the streets and markets. One day, while walking in the street from the synagogue to his home bedecked in Tefillin, a Roman soldier saw him. Elisha saw the soldier pursuing him, and ran with all his strength to escape. The Roman soldier, who was faster, younger and stronger than Elisha, quickly gained ground.
Running breathlessly, Elisha prayed to G-d for a miracle that would save him. As he ran, Elisha removed his Tefillin and covered them up with both of his hands. The Roman soldier caught up with Elisha and shouted at him to halt. He was sure that Elisha had been wearing Tefillin, and rebuked him sharply for defying the imperial decree.
The soldier saw that Elisha was hiding something in his hands; he was sure that these were Tefillin. The Roman demanded that Elisha open his hands. The sage attempted to escape punishment and said:  “I have the wings of a dove in my hands.”
The Roman soldier refused to believe him and insisted that he open his hands. Elisha did so – and pure white dove wings appeared in his hand. A miracle occurred and the Tefillin were transformed into dove’s wings. The soldier, mollified, sent Elisha on his way in peace. From this incident, Elisha was known as “Elisha Ba’al Knafayyim – Elisha of the Wings.
The Talmud goes on to tell us that the Tefillin were transformed into the wings of a dove, and not any other bird, since the nation of Israel is similar to a dove. Just as the dove protects its young, so the Mitzvot protect Israel.