Kosher Tefillin

Kosher Tefillin

There are many details which are necessary that the Tefillin be Kosher Tefillin.

Parshas and Batim

Over-simplified, Kosher Tefillin is built from two parts, the inside, (the “parshas”, the scrolls), and the outside, (the “batim”, the leather compartments, including the “retzuos”, the straps). In order for the Tefillin to be Kosher, everything must be Kosher.

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There are many details that go into writing Kosher parshas. Each of the details has a depth of meaning and understanding, beyond the scope of such a blog. I have hope still to produce a “newsletter”, so to speak, an email series, where I will discuss the width and depth of the Kashrus of Tefillin and Mezuzas. Here are some of the issues:

The parchment — how it is made, from which animals, and with what mental intent.

The ink – how it is made, and from what ingredients.

Each of the letters has its own Divine instructions how it is to be written.

Every letter has to be written so that it is surrounded by parchment, meaning that it can’t touch another letter, and it can’t run off the parchment in any direction, nor into a hole in the parchment.

Every letter has to be created by writing, not by carving out. Even a correction of an invalid letter, if it is made through erasing, then the letter remains invalid. Sometimes this manifests itself when two letters touch and you have to separate them (which in principle could be OK), but if when they touched, the two letters took the form of a third letter, either when they touched or at some point during the repair, then to separate them with a knife would constitute making the letter by scraping, not by writing. A sofer (scribe) must be very knowledgable and G-d fearing not to fall into this trap.

Tefillin and Mezuzas

In Tefillin and Mezuzas, the letters have to be written in order. If you forget a letter you have to go back and erase everything from there till the end in order that when you write the missing letter it will not be written after letters which come later. (That is, of course, if one MAY erase until the end, as the names of the A’lmighty may not be erased). This is also true if one of the earlier letters is invalid (or became invalid), to go back and fix it (this depends on what made it invalid), even if you correct it by writing and not by scratching, this would constitute writing out of order.


Even with top-notch quality Mezuzo this becomes an issue after a few years, where, depending on climate conditions, it is not uncommon that in certain places the ink dries up and flakes off. Then you have to see what is left, whether it is still Kosher, and if not, whether it can still be corrected. This is the job of the “Ba’al Magiya”, (the proofreader, so to speak) who has to know the laws backwards and forwards to know what to do under all circumstances.

There are many more issues, not endless, but many more. I hope that I will merit to discuss them more thoroughly in a subsequent article.

About The Author

Boruch Rappaport