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Siman 32 . The Procedure of Writing Tefillin

32:1. The mitzvah of tefillin is to write [in them] four paragraphs, i.e. "[And God spoke to Moses, saying:] Sanctify unto me every firstborn ... in its season, from year to year" [Shemos 13:1-10], "And it shall be, when [God] brings you ... because with a mighty arm God took you out of Egypt" [Shemos 13:11-16], (1) and the portion of "Hear [O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is One; i.e. Shema] ... and on your gates" [Devarim 6:4-9], and the portion of "And it will be, if you listen ... above the earth" [Devarim 11:13- 21]. {Rama: And one must (2) write them (3) in this order, i.e. write first [chronologically] that which appears earlier in the Torah; and if one went out of order, the tefillin are (4) not usable. Ideally [l'chatchilla] one should write the arm-tefillin (5) before the head- tefillin.}

M.B.1: And the portion of "Hear" - And one must write the 'daled' of "echad" [the last letter of "One"] as large as four smaller 'daleds'. It is possible that we do not measure by the script of each particular tefillin [thus requiring the 'daled' to be four times as large as the surrounding letters], but it is sufficient for this 'daled' to be the size of four tiny 'daleds'. Therefore, the custom is to write this 'daled' only slightly larger than the other 'daleds' in that script.

M.B. 2: Write them - i.e. all the paragraphs, whether within the [four paragraphs of the] head-tefillin or within the arm-tefillin.

M.B. 3: In this order - because it is written "And these words shall be etc." [Devarim 6:5], i.e. as they are written in the Torah so shall they always be. And all the more so, one should be careful for this reason to insure that each paragraph itself is written in order; i.e. that not even one letter should be omitted, because there is no way to fix such an error afterwards, as explained later in paragraph 23. [The Shulchan Aruch there explains that if one fixes such an error by adding in the missing letter, he has thereby written the tefillin out of order and ruined them - AB]

M.B. 4: Not usable - i.e. the tefillin made with these portions are unusable, but the portions themselves have not been invalidated. e.g. if he began by writing "And it shall be when God brings you .." [he cannot then write the portion "Sanctify ..." and make a usable tefillin with them, but] he can use it together with a "Sanctify ..."-portion from another set of tefillin, if he knows certainly that that other set was written earlier than the portion he wrote; but if he has no certain knowledge, then we are strict about doubtful cases of Torah law. Likewise, if he wrote the portions in order, but later one of the three first portions became invalidated, the portions which follow it are now effectively useless, but there is a possibility of including portions from an earlier source as explained above.

M.B. 5: Before - Because the arm-tefillin are mentioned first in the verse. And some say the opposite is true [i.e. that the head-tefillin should be written first], because the holiness of the head-tefillin is greater than that of the arm-tefillin. And our custom is in accordance with the gloss of the Rama, and post facto [b'dieved] all opinions agree that we are not concerned about this requirement. It is written in the Sefer Ha-Kavanos that ideally [l'chatchilla] one should be careful to write all the portions of the head-tefillin or the arm-tefillin together and not interrupt between them with any talking; see the Shaarei Teshuvah [no. 3, for a detailed discussion of the best thing to do if this is not possible].

32:2. For the head-tefillin one should write each portion on a separate scroll, and for the arm-tefillin one should write all [four] of them (6) on one scroll.

M.B. 6: Because it says "And they shall be for a sign on your arm" [Shemos 13:16] [in the singular form] meaning one sign, i.e. one compartment; and just like it must be only one sign on the outside, so too it should ideally [l'chatchilla] only be one sign on the inside, i.e. one scroll. But in the head-tefillin, which consists of four separate compartments [as the plural form is used for it in Devarim - AB], the portions should be written on four scrolls. All of this is only in the ideal case [l'chatchilla], as will all be explained later in paragraph 47. One should realize, though, that [even] the arm-tefillin should only be written in four columns, each portion on a separate column. ( Assaf Bednarsh )


Siman 32: The Order of Writing Tefilin (continued)

32:3. He should write them (7) with black ink, whether or not the ink contains gall-nut. {Rema: a priori one should be stringent to write the Tefilin with ink that is made from (8) wood or oil soot that is soaked in gall-nut solution, as is explained in Yore De'ah Siman 271.} If he wrote even (9) one letter with (10) any other color ink, or with gold, the Tefilin are not good. If he sprinkled gold dust on the letters, (11) he should remove the gold dust and leave the [black] writing beneath it, and the tefillin will be Kosher. But if he sprinkled the gold dust on a letter from Hashem's name there is no remedy - it is forbidden to remove the gold since it is like erasing the name of G-d, and therefore the tefillin must remain invalid.

MB 7: With Black Ink - Look in the Be'ur Halacha about ink that looks similar to blue (where he rules strictly, suggesting that one should not use it).

MB 8: Wood Soot - This means without adding _kuma_ or _kankantum_ (kuma is gum [arabic?] and kankantum is vitriol, which is copper water), because a priori the ink has to be erasable, and when these substances are added the ink is more permanent. However, although this is the best way to do the Mitzvah, according to the actual Halacha even the Rema agrees that it is permissible to make the ink from gall, kuma and kankantum. Such is the custom today, to make the ink from a mixture of all three, and by cooking them which makes the ink even better. Look in the Magen Avraham, who writes that in his day he didn't see anyone make the ink from either wood or oil soot [but it is possible they made the ink from soot from thorn bushes, like he quotes in the name of the Maharil]. And the Sefer Get Mekushar and the Sefer Birchei Yosef both ruled that we should follow our custom (with gall, kuma and kankantum) because the ink made with wood or oil soot gets ruined and erased very easily - which is why we aren't accustomed now to make tefillin with them. Ink made from gall nuts without kuma or kankantum, or from kankantum alone, is not good even post facto. So wrote the Gr"a later in Siman 691, and look in the Be'ur Halacha. It is permissible to write Tefilin and Mezuzos with ink made from _Stam Yeinam_ (this refers to wine which was handled by a non- Jew, but was not used as part of a service for an avodah zarah). Ink does not have to be made for the sake of doing the Mitzvah.

MB 9: One Letter - Not only one complete letter, because the same holds true even for part of a letter, such as the point of the Yud ("Kutzo shel Yud" - often used as a reference to the smallest fraction of a single letter).

MB 10: Any Other Color Ink - that are not black, such as red or green and other colors.

MB 11: He Can Remove the Gold Dust - Even though the tefillin are invalid as long as he did not remove the gold dust, because the top layer of ink nullifies the bottom layer, [nonetheless the tefillin are valid once the top layer has been removed]. Removing the top layer does not create a problem of writing the tefillin out of order [Tefilin and Mezuzos must be written in the proper sequence, as the Rema said in 32:1 - meaning one cannot write the last words of tefillin and then go back and fill in a few words in the middle], because he isn't writing, but merely _removing_ - and the bottom writing is left automatically.

32:4. It is necessary for each letter to not touch (12) its neighbor, but rather (13) each letter must be "mukaf gevil" (surrounded by parchment). {Rema: And he should write a (14) 'complete' writing - even the (15) tip of the Yud shouldn't be missing, and letters should be crowned (16) properly. And preferably he should write them slightly thick so that the Tefilin should not be erased quickly, and it is also proper to beautify them from without and within.

MB 12: Its Neighbor - And if the letter is large and touches at its end, in such a way that if the portion that is touching is scraped away the shape of the letter would still exist, some say that the tefillin are Kosher "as is," while others say they are invalid until repaired. The later commentaries agreed that we have to be strict here, and therefore we must scrape away the part that is touching. Repair of letters [in cases such as this one] is valid even with Tefillin and Mezuzos [which must be written in the correct sequence, as we noted above in MB 11] since the shape of the letter remains unchanged.

MB 13: Each Letter - Even the last letter on a row must be surrounded by parchment on all four sides. This is a definite requirement even post facto, like later at the end of 32:16. Even if the tip of the Yud is not surrounded by parchment the Tefilin are also posul, as is described in Tractate Menachos page 29. The specifics of this law are found later in 32:16 (the original printing reads 32:17, which is an error) and Siman 36.

MB 14: 'Complete' Writing - Meaning that a Beis should not look like a Kaf and a Zayin should not look like a Nun or vice versa, or anything similar to this (letters that are similar must be clearly written so as to make them properly distinguishable).

MB 15: Tip of the Yud - This is the left tip of the Yud, and definitely if it is missing the right leg it is posul. For a description of the format of a Yud, look later in the laws of the shapes of the letters in Siman 36 and at what the Pri Megadim wrote there. [The Yud must have a little leg coming down from the left side of the horizontal bar. A rough sketch:

|___ ' | | / ]

MB 16: Properly - In the letters of 'ShAaTNe"Z Ge"Tz' (Shin, Ayin, Tes, Nun, Zayin, Gimmel, Tzadi) (These letters must have little crowns sticking up from the left most upper horizontal portion of the letter). This is only a priori, but post facto these letters are permissible even if they are not crowned as in 36:3. Look there for all the details of the laws of crowning the letters.

32:5 He must (17) write with his right hand even if he is ambidextrous, and if he wrote with (18) his left the tefillin are invalid if he can find others written with the right hand. A left-handed person's left hand (19) is called his "right" hand for these laws.

MB 17: Write with his Right - Because the normal way of writing is not with the left hand. Similarly, corrections made with one's left hand in the writing are invalid. However, it seems that the Tefillin are acceptable if he uses his left hand to separate letters that were touching. This is similar to the ruling that permits such activities post facto, in Siman 39, by people who are not allowed to write Tefillin.

MB 18: His Left - This ruling applies to someone who is strictly right-handed, but if someone who is ambidextrous wrote the Tefilin with his left hand, they are permissible. Even in the case where the person is strictly a righty, and wrote them with his left hand, and there are no other Tefilin available, he may put on these Tefilin - but should not make a blessing. A scribe that writes with his right hand and does all other activity with his left hand, or vice versa, should preferably not be accepted as a scribe, but if he wrote tefillin already they are acceptable - look in the Pri Megadim for the reason.

MB 19: Is His Right Hand - Therefore, if he wrote with his right hand the Tefilin are posul, just as if a righty wrote with his left hand, as described earlier, if one can find other Tefilin. The Re"mah describes the case of someone in Egypt who held the quill in his mouth and wrote the Tefilin. In that case he ruled the Tefilin are unacceptable because writing is not normally done with the mouth. The Magen Avraham wrote that in this case even if there are no other Tefilin available these Tefilin are unacceptable. Look in the Sefer Mishnas Avraham who writes in the name of the Get Mekushar and other authorities that say that this or writing with one's foot is similar to writing with the left hand.

Binyamin Rudman

Siman 32. Hilchot Tefillin The Order of Writing Tefillin (cont'd)

32:6. One need not draw a guiding line except for the (20) top row - but if he can't make straight rows without a guiding line, (21) he should make one for each row. One should not make the guiding line (22) with lead, because then the guiding line will remain colored. {Rama: There are those who say that one needs to always draw a guiding line on top, on bottom, and on the sides, even if he can make straight rows without a guiding line - and this is how it should be done. (Baruch Sheamar, Mordechi, Sefer Hatrumah, and Sma"g [Sefer Mitzvot Gadol])

MB 20: top row - because unlike Mezuzos, there was no law given orally to Moshe at Sinai requiring a guiding line for Tefillin. It is just that you are not allowed to write 3 words from a verse without a guiding line. Therefore a guiding line for the top row is sufficient, because usually a person can practice and write straight rows after writing the first row straight. He [the Shulchan Aruch] began, "One need not" because if one wishes to write a guiding line for all the rows in order to write them straight and nicely, then he may. If one did not make a guiding line even for the top row see the Beur Halacha. [According to the Beur Halacha it would be a disagreement between Rabeinu Tam and the rest of the poskim. Rabeinu Tam would say that the tefillin were pasul, whereas the rest of the poskim would say that they are Kosher. I understand from the Beur Halacha that he thinks it would be O.K. -- AB]

MB 21: he should make a guiding line - meaning that is the way it should be done. However if he didn't make guiding lines and the rows came out crooked the tefillin are still kosher.

MB 22: with lead - the same is true for ink or paint or anything similar - and one should not draw even between the rows. And all this is before the fact, but if lines have already been drawn then we should not be strict about it - so wrote the Lechem Chamudot and the Eliyahu Raba. And in the responsa of Dvar Shmuel, Siman 362, he doubts this very much in a case where the guiding line is black, because then the letters are connected by the guiding line unless he wrote below the guiding line.

32:7. It is a law given to Moshe on Sinai that tefillin should be written on klaf and not on duchsustus or on gvil. [These terms are explained immediately by the Shulchan Aruch.] One should write on the klaf where the flesh was and if he did otherwise then it is pasul. What is klaf and what is duchsustus? When working an animal skin, it is split in half, the outer part towards the hair is called klaf and the inner part stuck to the flesh is called duchsustus [and the whole skin before splitting is called gvil]. According to this, when it is said that one should write on the klaf where the flesh was, this means on the place closer to the flesh, i.e., where it was connected to the duchsustus. And our scrolls which are not split are considered klaf, and one should write on the side closer to the flesh, [the reason why it it is considered klaf is] because what we scrape off the outer part where the hair is, is only to prepare it and to make it smooth and even if the skin was split we would need to do this and on the side of the flesh we scrape off so much that all that is left is klaf.

32:8. The klaf must be processed (23) in afatzim [gall-nuts] or lime [the kind used in plaster] and it must be processed for the sake of tefillin. It is good to say (24) orally (25) at the beginning of the processing that he is doing so for the sake of tefillin or (26) for the sake of a Sefer Torah; if he processed it for the sake of a mezuza (27) it is pasul.

MB 23: in afatzim or lime - and this is needed because it is not considered klaf without this, just diftra. And one should put the leather in the lime until the hair comes off by itself, and not by scraping; if he took it out [of the lime] beforehand he shouldn't write on it because it is still considered diftra and is pasul. There are those who disagree and say the a scribe who took out the leather after 4 days and the hair still didn't come off by itself it seems that it should be O.K. since it is not dependent on the hairs at all, but rather since it was already in the lime and is well prepared it is not considered diftra.

MB 24: with his lips - and if he only thought then after the fact it is O.K.

MB 25: at the beginning - and there is no more need to say it out loud or even think that the processing is for it's sake, just at the beginning and even if the processing takes several days because anyone who does something does it according to his first thought. The beginning of the processing is when he puts the leather in the lime and not when he puts it in the water beforehand because this isn't considered processing.

MB 26: for the sake of a sefer torah - since its holiness is greater then tefillin and 100 zuz [or dollars, as the case may be] is included in 200. and even so we can then use the klaf for tefillin or mezuzot even though their holiness is less, but for non-holy use it can not be used unless he specifically made a condition at the beginning of the processing that he may use it for a non-holy purpose then it may be used. And it is best that the scribe, when putting the leather in the lime, should say, "I am putting this leather in the lime for the sake of the holiness of a sefer torah, but I am making a condition that if I want I may use it for whatever I want." and not like some scribes say, "for the sake of a sefer torah or tefillin or mezuzot or any other use" because there are doubts among the achronim if this helps and see the Beur Halacha. [There he writes that the problem is that in the second statement what the scribe is saying is that what I decide later will determine for what sake I processed the leather and this does not work in laws from the torah. However since the need to process for the sake of tefillin is only a rabbinical law, therefore there is a doubt.]

MB 27: it is pasul - and it can only be used for a mezuza whose holiness is less then that of tefillin. If he processed for the sake of tefillin then it can be used for a mezuza but not for a sefer torah. If he processed the leather for straps [of tefillin] then it can't be used to write the parshiyot [the scrolls put inside the tefillin] if he later made klaf out of the leather since the klaf of tefillin are holier then the straps and even to make the housings of the tefillin it would seem to be no good since they are holier than the straps (Pri Megadim and see there more what he wrote about this).

Avi Bloch

Today's issue is dedicated l'aliyas nishmas [as a merit for the soul of] Pesach ben Shimon Ephraim Olesker.

* ** ** The World Connection Jewish Learning Program *********** Jewish Education in CyberSpace ** ** *********** A Program of Project Genesis ** ** *

Siman 32 - The Laws of Writing Tefillin (cont.)

32: 9. If a non-jew tanned [the leather skins inorder to make parchment] according to Rambam they are invalid (28) even if a jew told him to do it for the sake of [parchment for Tefillin] and according to Rosh they are kosher if a jew stood next to him and helped him. {Rama (29) slightly with the work (30) and so is the custom and look earlier in Section 11 Paragraph 2)}

MB 28: even if - The Rambam takes the view that a non-jew works for his own interest and even if the non-jew says that he listens to the jew, his heart and mouth are inconsistant. However, the Rosh takes the view that since the jew is standing over him at the start when he puts the skins into the pot and tells him at that time to put the skins into the pot for the sake of [the tefillin] AND we only need the non-jews attention to this for the moment he puts the skins into the pot, so for this very short period the non-jew listens to the jew and puts them in with this in mind. But if the jew who is standing over him only has this in mind it doesn't help and even if he says so explicitly but as long as he stands too far away and doesn't show him it doesn't help even according to the Rosh.

MB 29: slightly - even if he only helped at the end of the tanning and even if this help was done together with the non-jew it is still kosher. And all this is for the Mitzvah but after the fact according to the Rosh it is kosher even if he didn't help at all because the non-jew works for the purpose of the jew who orders him to do it for the sake [of the Tefillin].

MB 30: and so is the custom - And the custom, according to the words of the Later Authorities, a priori should be that the jew himself puts the skins into the pot for the sake [of Tefillin] and should say to the non-jew that the rest of the job that he is going to do he should also do for the sake of [Tefillin]. Then, the non-jew can take them out himself and prepare them and the jew doesn't need to stand over him and help him any more.

If the jew put the skins into the pot himself for the sake of [Tefillin] without saying anything to the non-jew, the Pri Megadim writes, that this requires further investigation because according to Beis Yosef in Yoreh Deah Paragraph 271 it is kosher even according to the view of the Rambam and the Bach forbids its use. However, according to the Nodeh B'yhudah in Paragraph 175 and the Gaon R'M Bannett [in his commentary] on the Mordechai at the end of the Laws of Sefer Torah one can be lenient after the fact. If the jew helped the non-jew slightly at the end and with this he completed the tanning process and didn't tell the non-jew at all that he should do it for the sake of [Tefillin] this definately does not help - helping has no substance in itself. And this applies only if this completion was done together with the non-jew but if the jew finished it himself without the help of the non-jew, for example, if the jew removed the skins from the pot prior to their completion and then put them back into the pot for the sake of [Tefillin], the Taz in Yoreh Deah and the above mentioned Gaon R'Bannett are lenient and one should not make an objection to someone who follows their lenient view as we have explained in the Biur Halacha.

32:10. When one marks the holes with an awl in the shape of letters (to be able to identify the leather) even though it is easy for the non-jew to forge we don't need to worry about this because he is afraid that the jew may be able recognise (31) by an overall general impression (T'vius Ayin) [that these skins are not his].

MB 31: by an overall impression - either he gave it with identification marks or that these holes seem to have been made later than his originals. Some say that one should inscribe something on the inside of the head [piece] at a point where it is unusual to tan so that it will remain even after the tanning process and not use an awl because of the possibility of forging. After the fact one can be lenient like the Shulchan Aruch.

32:11. Skins that have not been tanned for the sake of [use for Tefillin], with regard to there being a possibilty that they can be re-tanned for the sake of Tefillin will be explained in Tur Yoreh Deah Section 271.

Kol Tuv Jonathan Chody

Siman 32: The Writing of Tefillin [continued].

32:12. The parchment should be made of the skin of a pure (kosher) domestic animal, wild animal, or bird, even if they may not be eaten because they were not properly slaughtered or were not fit to live out the year, but may not be made from the skin of an impure (non-kosher) domestic animal, wild animal or bird because it is written [in the torah] 'in order that the teaching of Hashem be in your mouth' which implies that the tefillin be made of a species that may be eaten by the mouth. It may also not be made from the skin of a fish even if it's pure (kosher) because it has a lot of secretions [that could blur the writing, or smell].

32:13. The parchment should be whole so that there be no holes where the ink will not stick so that a letter [written over the hole] should not appear to be split in (32) two.

MB 32: In two - If it is so small that when he passes the pen over it the hole is sealed with ink and the hole cannot be felt by the pen, he may write on it. Even if some ink fell off in that place and a small hole can be seen when the parchment is held up to the sun, it is fit. However, if it is so holey that the ink does not pass over it, it is unfit, because the letter appears split in two by the hole. If the hole is in the middle of the thickness of the letter - in its roof or its thigh - and ink surrounds it on all sides, it is unfit even if it looks like a letter until the hole. This is the law before the writing, but if after the writing the letter split in two because of a hole, if there is the shape of a letter until the place of the hole it is fit, as will be explained nearby in Seif 16 (Siman 32:16). Look in the Biur Halacha.

32:14. Diligent scribes make three types of parchment: Very thick parchment to write the paragraph of Shma which is short, (33) thinner parchment to write the paragraph of 'Vehaya im shomoya' which is longer, and for the paragraphs of 'Kadesh' and 'Vehaya ki yeviacha' which are long, they make very thin parchment. Using this technique the tefillin compartments are made equally full, which is an adornment for tefillin.

MB 33: Thinner parchment for the paragraph of 'Vehaya im shomoya' - This is a copyist's error. It should say, "Thinner parchment for the paragraph of 'Vehaya ki yeviacha' which is longer, and for the paragraphs of 'Kadesh' and 'Vehaya im shomoya' which are long, they make very thin parchment." RM"Y (I don't know who the abbreviation refers to.) wrote that their scribes use a different solution; all the parchments have the same dimensions and thicknesses, but they leave margins for the short paragraphs.

Shmuel Weidberg

[I _thought_ I had someone for the past Shabbos, but there seems to be a cross in our e-mail. The following is the text of the Shulchan Aruch, with only a minimal comment from the Mishna Brura. As I mentioned a week ago, much of Section 32 deals with laws mainly relevant to scribes, rather than the average person. It is therefore appropriate for us to gloss over much of the material in place of a full commentary. This is also true because the discussion of some of these laws is quite long - this section, for example, covers three pages of small text in the Mishna Brura. -- YM]

Siman 32. The Laws of Writing Tefillin (cont.)

32:15. If after writing a portion, the parchment becomes torn inside a Heh or Mem [both of which have white space in the middle of the letter], this parchment is still Kosher, even if the entire white space in the middle of the letter is torn away. However, the Jerusalem Talmud implies that even inside a letter there is a requirement that it be surrounded by parchment. If the inside leg of a Heh becomes torn - even so that only a tiny bit remains, the Rosh says this is Kosher. ____ | [Heh: | | | | ] {Rama: However, the other decisors require that there be enough remaining to be the leg on a very small letter, and so is the law.}

If the right, or outer leg becomes torn, if enough remains to form a small letter, it is Kosher, but otherwise it is invalid.

32:16. If one of the letters becomes torn into two parts {Rama: the straight letters, such as the leg of a Vav or Zayin, or a leg, or a similar case}, if a small child of average intelligence can read it normally, it is Kosher, and if not it is invalid [posul]. And it is not necessary to follow our custom, which is to cover the remaining letters in the sentence [in order to prevent the child from recognizing the letter only in context. The Mishna Brura mentions several authorities who do require that all preceding words be covered, but not this word or the others that follow].

{Rama: However, if we can see that the normal shape of the letter has been torn away, then it is posul even if a child can read it normally.}

We validate torn letters only when they were first written properly, and then became torn into two parts. However, if the scribe wrote the letter over a hole which interrupted the letter, or the long leg of a final Kaf [ ___ or a similar letter reached to the edge of the parchment when it [ | was written, without being surrounded by parchment at least [ | initially, then the text is invalid. [ | ]

32:17. If a drop of ink fell inside a letter, and the letter is no longer recognizeable, then it does not help to scrape away the ink leaving the letter behind - because this is "engraving" rather than writing, and invalid, because we require "and he wrote" and not "and he engraved." And so too if the scribe erred and wrote a Dalet in place of a Reish, or a Beis in place of a Kaf, it does not help to erase the additional section, because this too is engraving.

_____ ____ _____ _____ | \ | | Dalet | Reish | Beis | Kaf | | | | | | | ------ -----

Yaakov Menken

Nechemia Ben Devorah Leah will have major & delicate surgery on Friday. Please continue to learn with his recovery in mind. Thanks. -- YM

Siman 32 - The Laws of Writing Tefillin

32.18 An open mem (a regular letter mem) that is accidentally drawn (71) closed it, it doesn't help to scrape the connected part [off] (72) to open it for it would be like (73) forming a letter by erasing.

MB 71: and closes it - It would be like a closed mem (a final mem) whose place is only at the end of a word and not in the middle. This is true for all of the final letters, that they are to be used only at the end of a word, and the regular letters can not be used at the end of a word - and if this rule is not followed, the tefillin are invalid.

MB 72: and to open it - And so is the law with other letters which are ruined when they are written or even afterwards, which can be fixed by scraping, such as: a letter dalet in which the leg (extends down) and appears as a chaf sofis (final chaf) and all other similar cases -- scraping will not help for then this is only erasing.

And how does one fix it? By scraping off the letter until that which remains looks merely like a (75) bent Nun, and then he should redraw what was erased.

MB 75: Bent nun - For the writing of an open mem is done with 2 strokes, first a bent nun and afterwards placing a vav on the side. If so, then only the part that makes the (letter) invalid needs to be scraped, which means the vav (of the mem) would need to be scraped completely, but the nun which was written properly does not need to be scraped. This is the law with all letters which are written from 2 letters. If a letter is made from one stroke (and needs to be scraped), then the full letter must be scraped off.

If a Reish was made in the shape of a Dalet, then one should be stringent and not be satisfied with merely scraping off either the leg or the top of the letter, and then to redraw it as a Reish, because between both of them the letter was incorrectly drawn [because a Reish is correctly written with one stroke]. If one letter is made to touch another, whether before or after it was completed, it is invalid, and if one scrapes away the join then it is valid. This is _not_ called erasing, because the letter itself was written properly. If the leg of a Heh or a Kuf touches the top of the letter, then one should scrape the leg away and redraw it, and one does not need to scrape away the entire letter, because the top was drawn properly. If the leg of an Aleph touches the straight line, or the (87) face of the Aleph touches the straight line, then it is invalid, and it is insufficient to scrape them apart. Rather, one must scrape away all that which was drawn improperly and redraw it. {Rama: So too with the Yuds contained in a Shin, Tzaddik, Ayin or Pey, if they touched the body of the letter more than at the place where they are supposed to connect.

MB 87: THis refers to the upper Yud. And this is only when it is cleaving entirely to the rest of the letter, and loses its distinct shape. However, if the connection is a bit wider than it is supposed to be for beautiful writing, if there remains some distinction between them there is no problem, and no repair is required.

32:19. When he begins to write, he should say with his mouth, "I am writing for the sake of the holiness of the tefillin. Besides this, each time that (a name of Hashem) is written, one needs to say that it is being written for the Holiness of Hashem.

{Rama: There are those who say that it is enough that he thinks that he is writting for the Holiness of Hashem, since when he began writing he said it explicitely. One can be lenient after the fact. When one is falling asleep, he should not write, because he will be unable to do so with proper intent.}

32:20. One must be precise with the (100) "missing" and "extra" letters [frequently, a word is the same whether written with or without a Vav or Yud, but there is a particular custom for the word as to how it should be written. In all cases, Torah scrolls, Tefillin and Mezuzos must be written exactly as our tradition dictates] because if he leaves aside or adds (101) one letter, the entire document is invalid, and one who uses it in his Tefillin and says a blessing upon it blesses over nothing every day, and remains each day without performing the commandment of Tefillin - and therefore the punishment of the scribe (102) is great. Therefore, one must have great fear of Heaven and (102) tremble at G-d's word in order to be involved with the writing of Tefillin.

MB 100: Even if the word is still read the same way, as with those words written full or lacking [full - with all possible Yuds and Vovs] as we will see later.

MB 101: One letter - Even if the point of a Yud is missing, the Tefillin are invalid as we see in the Talmud Menachos 29a.

MB 102: Great - Besides the crime of stealing, which is severe.

MB 103: Tremble at G-d's word - I saw fit to copy here the words of the Levush, which are most appropriate and needed on this topic. He says as follows: And not as many scribes do today, who leave the writing of Tefillin to teenagers who are learning, in order that they should become accustomed to writing, and then looking it over to see if it is written correctly with its missing and extra letters, and then they put them into their housings and sell them, and apply the money from the sale to the cost of schooling for the child. And they excuse themselves by saying that they are thus doing kindness to the poor children, teaching them the scribal arts for free, which is the work of Heaven. Rather, I say that they lose all benefit through their loss - and quite the opposite, they do no good, because the child is a child, and he does not know his right from his left, and he has no intent - rather, they are like those who are writing merely for the beauty of the letters, and not for any holiness or intent to do a Commandment whatsoever. And the punishment of the scribe is great, because he is causing people to stumble into wearing invalid tefillin (as we saw above in paragraph 19 [that without proper intent they are invalid]), and more than that, in order to increase its value the scribe claims that he himself wrote it, and I wrote it with intent... and certainly all who do this will be forced to stand in judgement, and to receive their truly great punishment, and upon them it was said "Cursed are those who make the work of G-d into trickery." Therefore, each scribe should be careful and remove himself from this, and it will be good for him - because the "intent" mentioned by Tefillin is not intent for the owner [of the particular Tefillin], as is true for a document of divorce which requires the name of husband and wife, but rather it must be written for the sake of the holiness of the Tefillin. [I think this applies because the latter may be written by students. -- YM] (And he finishes there,) it is appropriate that anyone who can do so should have scribes for Tefillin appointed in the city who are proper, and men of truth, haters of theivery, masters of Torah, fearing Heaven and trembing at His Word, just as is done with slaughterers, in order that people should not trust all the scribes whose only intent is to make money with more beautiful writing - and even though this too is a proper intent, meaning to beautify the Mitzvah, this is only true if he also has intent for holiness, which they are not careful about. (End Levush)

Yaakov Menken and others

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Siman 32: The Procedure of Writing Tefillin (cont.)

32:21. Each parshah [i.e. paragraph], after [the scribe] writes it, (104) he should read it [to check that it contains no mistakes] well, with concentration and care, twice and a third time. And he should read it through again before he places it in the tefillin-box, to avoid a [checked] parshah being switched with an [unchecked] parshah.

MB 104: He should read it well - because if he finds that a letter is missing in one parshah, not only is that parshah unusable, but likewise all the parshahs that follow it, because [if he fixed the faulty parshah or replaced it by writing a new parshah] they would have been written out of order [i.e. before the fixed/replaced parshah], as explained above in the beginning of the Siman [Seif 1].

32:22. It is good [for the scribe] to test out the quill (105) before he begins to write the parshah, so that there should not be too much ink on it and he will lose out [i.e. ruin the parshah by blotching]. And likewise, he should be careful before he writes every name [of G-d] to read all (106) that he has written [so far], so that [the name of G-d] does not come to be hidden away [i.e. discarded (respectfully)] (107) because of him.

MB 105: Before he begins - He does not mean only at the beginning of the parshah, but rather before [the scribe] begins to write [any letters] _in_ the parshah.

MB 106: That he has written - in that parshah, but not the previous parshah.

MB 107: Because of him - And when he dips the quill [in ink] to write the Name, he should not start with the Name right away, in order that he not ruin it with too much ink [if there is too much ink on the quill], or maybe a hair got stuck on [the quill] and the writing will not come out straight; and also he needs [a chance] to sanctify the ink on the quill before he writes the Name. Therefore, he should make sure to not write the last letter before the Name, and begin to write [after dipping the quill] with that letter [so he can use that letter to test for any problems]. If he didn't [leave the last letter], he should look for some letter or crown of a letter that needs more ink, and fill it in and then write the Name. And if he needs more ink before he finishes the Name, he should dip [the quill] in the letters before the Name which are still moist [instead of dipping it in the inkwell; to avoid the problems of too much ink or a hair] and [use that ink to] finish the Name. But he should not dip [the quill] in the actual letters of the name [because it would be disrespectful]; and some are lenient and allow dipping [the quill] in the actual letters of the Name, and do not consider this degrading since it is for the purpose of finishing the Name [and not for the purpose of something less holy]. And if the letters before the Name are no longer moist, then he should dip [the quill in the inkwell] anew and look for a letter or crown which needs more ink, as explained above. All of this [discussion] is a good thing to follow, but post facto [its neglect] does not invalidate [the writing].

32:23. If [the scribe] finds that he left out [even] one letter, it cannot be (108) rectified, because if [he fixes the mistake by going back and adding in the missing letter] it will have been written out of order and [therefore] invalid, because it is written "And [these words] shall be" [Devarim 6:6], i.e. (109) as they are, they shall be. If he wrote (110) an extra letter, it can be rectified by (111) scraping [i.e. erasing] it if it is at the end or beginning of a word; but not if it is in the middle of a word, because when he erases it, [the word] will (112) look like two [separate] words.

MB 108: Rectified - by adding in [the missing letter]. This is if from [the place of the mistake] until the end of the parshah there are Names which are forbidden to erase, because otherwise he can erase [from the missing letter] until the end [and rewrite it in order].

MB 109: As they are, they shall be - i.e. in the order they are written in the Torah, they should be written [by the scribe].

MB 110: An extra letter - And if he wrote an extra word, he should erase it and he can leave the space blank (if there is no letter [at the end of] the preceding word which he can extend to fill that space [as explained below]), and blank space does not invalidate [the parshah] as long as it is not the size of the space which separates paragraphs [in the Torah or scrolls] which is the width of nine letters [but if the space was that wide, then it would be considered a mistaken beginning of a new paragraph]. And sometimes it can be fixed even in this case [where the extra word is very long], if he can extend the [last] letter of the previous word and thereby reduce the size of the nine-letter space. Additionally, in a case where the tefillin would be invalid due to the blank space [i.e. it is nine letters long], even if the previous word ends in a "heh" or "kuf" he can extend the roof [i.e. top horizontal line of the "heh" or "kuf"] in order to reduce the blank space; even though therefore the foot [i.e. vertical line in the bottom left corner] will not be at the [left] end of [the letter] [and we normally require it to be at the left end and not in the middle], this is not required post facto [or in a difficult situation such as this]. The Pri Megadim wrote that if he [mistakenly] doubled a word, it is better to erase the second, because the first was written properly [and therefore does not deserve to be erased]. But if before the first there is a letter which can be extended, it is better to erase the first [and extend the preceding letter to cover the blank space; even though the blank space would not be the size of nine letters], to take into account the opinion of Rabbenu Tam that the size of a paragraph break is three [and not nine] letters.

MB 111: Scraping - And the parshah is not [thereby] invalidated because of carving [Tefillin must be written on the parchment, not carved out of a block of ink already found on the parchment - AB], because he is not doing anything to the actual words or letters [so this is not considered carving, but merely rectifying a side problem].

MB 112: Look like two words - And sometimes it can be rectified by erasing it and extending the preceding letter to fill up its space, e.g. if he wrote "la'avosecha" [mistakenly] "full", with a 'vav' after the 'beis', he can erase [the 'vav'] and extend the preceding 'beis' to fill its space. Likewise, if the correction follows a 'kaf' or 'daled' or 'resh', which can be slightly extended to fill the space of the erased extra letter. But if the extendable letter follows the extra letter, so that it is impossible to extend it backwards without first erasing part of it, e.g. the word "se'or" from the Torah which he [mistakenly] wrote "full", with a 'vav' following the 'alef', where it is impossible to extend the 'resh' [following the 'vav'] backwards unless he erases its "foot" [vertical line] first and thereby nullifies its identity [as a 'vav'], and when he then completes the 'resh' [after extending it] he will be writing [it] out of order; there is no way to fix it, unless he can fill the place [of the missing letter] by slightly thickening the preceding and following letter [as] this [thickening] is not considered an [invalidating] change to the letter. This is not so if the extendable letter precedes the extra letter, because one can extend these letters a lot [forwards] without detracting from them at all. But there is doubt about the first [appearance of the word] "matzos", which should be "empty" [i.e. without a 'vav'] and he wrote it "full" and then erased the 'vav', if then extending the horizontal line at the bottom of the [preceding letter] 'tzadik' helps, or if as long as he has not extended the top of the letter it still looks like two words even though he drew the letters close on bottom. Likewise, "nosain" which should be "empty" [without a 'vav'] and likewise "hotziacha" which he [mistakenly] wrote "full" with a 'yud' between the 'tzadik' and the 'alef', in all these cases there is doubt whether it can be fixed by extending the bottom of the preceding letter. In any case, any [word] which looks like two words is invalid. But if originally he extended the bottom of a 'nun' or 'tzadik' and wrote the next letter in [the space above that extension], e.g. in 'panai' or 'artzi', it is valid, since they were written as one word [and we don't suspect that it looks like two words]. But in any case, a priori it is not proper to do so, i.e. have one letter in the airspace of another letter, because some are strict about this.

Assaf Bednarsh


Siman 32: The Laws of Writing Tefillin (Continued)

32:24 It is permitted to write on a spot that had previously been (113) scraped clean of ink or erased. It is even permitted to write the Name of G-d. The ink should not be erased until has dried properly because then it can be scraped well and will not leave a mark.

MB 113: Scraped - Scraping is after the ink had dried and erasing is before the ink has dried. That which it says that the ink should not be erase until it has dried is only good advice. Look in the Pri Megadim who writes that if a mark of the ink remains it is questionable if even post facto that the Tefilin are permissible. This applies even to a regular word (not G-d's name) and it is forbidden to write on a spot that has an ink stain.

As we have seen previously Tefilin must be written in the order that they appear in the Torah. This means that the four paragraphs of the Tefilin must be written in the order that they appear, that the words in the paragraph must be written in the order that they appear in the paragraph and that the letters in a word must be written in the proper sequence. If the Tefilin were written out of sequence the Tefilin are not permissible at all. This also means that if after the Tefilin were completed and the Tefilin were ruined (a letter was erased - completely) the letter cannot be reinserted because the Tefilin will not have been written in sequence. There are certain circumstances where a letter may have been ruined but not completely erased. Under certain circumstances the Tefilin may be fixed. The MB writes an introduction to the upcoming paragraph which discusses these laws. Following is a synopsis of what the MB writes:

The MB breaks up the possibilities into three possibilities:

1) If part of a letter was erased and the letter does not look like the original letter. This is true whether or not the letter now looks like a different letter. In this case even if a child can recognize the letter the Tefilin are no good since WE know that the letter lost its proper form, and if there was more text after the letter the Tefilin are Posul and cannot be fixed.

2) If the letter didn't lose its form but there was a slight split in the letter. An example is if the three vertical portions of a Shin were detached from the base - but they are still there. In this case if an average child can recognize the letter (when covering the letters that come prior to it) the Tefilin may be repaired and will not be considered to be written out of proper sequence. However, before they are repaired the Tefilin are not usable.

3) If the letter meets the criteria outlined in (2) above but the only means of repairing the letter is by erasing it the Tefilin cannot be repaired. This is because when the letter is erased to repair it the Tefilin will now be written out of order. An example is when the left foot of a Hei touches the roof of the Hei, the thin piece of ink cannot just be scraped because of the prohibition of "Chok Tochos" (which is that when the letter is formed by scraping ink out of a spot to form a letter). This would happen when scraping away the spot of ink attaching the left leg of a Hei to its roof.

Following is the Shulchan Aruch: (Not all the MBs are translated)

32:25 (114) Any letter which is written improperly (115) and doesn't have its distinctive look, like when the (116) leg of an Aleph touches its diagonal piece or the top of the Aleph touches the diagonal, or if the leg of the Hei or Kuf (117) touch the roof; or if a single letter is split into two letters like a (118) Tzadi that looks like a Yud and a Nun or a Shin that looks like a (119) Yud and an Ayin or a (120) Ches that looks like two Zayin. If these are fixed after more text is written after the mistake the Tefilin cannot be fixed due to the problem of proper sequence. However, to separate two letters that are touching is permissible since the letter has its own form and when it is detached nothing was written. The same is true if (121) some of the verticals on the Alephs, Shins and Ayins or the legs of the Tavs are slightly detached from the main portion of the letter and an (122) average child can recognize the letter the Tefilin may be repaired. This is true even if there is more text already written after these letters, because the letter already has its distinctive shape and when fixing it one is not writing out of sequence. (123) There are those that rule that if the piece connecting the top of the Ches together is (124) slightly broken (125) it may be repaired even if an average child reads the letter as two Zayins.

MB 114: This is the introduction up above.

MB 115: This is because the only way to repair the letter is by erasing portions of it (rule 3) and this would then entail writing the Tefilin out of proper sequence.

MB 118: The MB discusses this in context of rule 1. The MB points out that if what is missing is part of the letter that is not intrinsic to its unique shape, such as the left leg of the Yud, the Tefilin may be repaired without being considered to have been written out of sequence.

MB122 - This means that even if the separation is obvious but the child recognizes it the letter may be repaired. However, if the split is so minute that it is not obvious the letter does not have to be shown to a child and may be repaired. In this case if it was shown to a child and the child does not recognize the letter, repairing the letter would be considered repairing it out of sequence.

MB 124 - If the break was obvious the letter cannot be repaired under any circumstance as described earlier.

MB125 - This is because the child is not used to seeing this type of Ches (because the Ches in Tefilin is written like two Zayins with two diagonal lines connecting the sides like this:

/\ --- --- | | | |

and the child would think that it is two Zayins even if the sides were completely attached). Therefore, the Tefilin may be fixed in this case.

32:26 If the letters of Hashem's name are (126) touching they may be (127) detached.

MB 126: Touching - This is true whether they are touching at the top or the bottom of the letters. This is only true if they were attached at the time of writing, but if they were attached after that then it cannot be fixed. Look in the Beur Halacha.

MB 127: Detached - This is not considered erasing since this is fixing the Name. This is especially true if the Name is attached to a letter from a different word, but care must be taken to erase the other letter and not to erase the last drop of ink that is attached to the Name of Hashem.

Binyamin Rudman

Nechemia Ben Devorah Leah should undergo surgery today - today's learning is on behalf of his speedy recovery.

I'm sorry about the continued tardiness of postings. We're behind, but the writers now know to aim several days in advance. I do hope that we will find ourselves a more consistent schedule following my wedding.

Siman 32. The Laws of Writing Tefillin (cont.)

32:27. Letters and words (128) that have become partially erased: if their image is still so recognizeable that a child of average intelligence can read it, it is permissible to pass a pen over the letters, in order to improve their appearance - and this is not called writing out of order.

MB 128: That have become partially erased - meaning that some of the darkness of the ink faded away. And if when they were originally written, the letters were not black, but rather a whiter or reddish color, and a pen must be passed over them again, then this is writing out of order. However, in the case described above in the Shulchan Aruch, this is not called out of order because even now the writing is Kosher, and the writing is merely to prevent it from fading more. What case are we discussing? When some of the ink remains. However, if the letter completely disappeared from the parchment, leaving only a reddish imprint from rust in the ink, then re-writing the letters would be writing out of order. Therefore, if part of a Vov disappears, leaving only a rust mark at the bottom, and it is necessary to show the letter to a child to determine if the upper part of the letter is large enough to form a Vov by itself - in this case the lower part of the letter must be covered in order that the child not combine it with the upper part (where s/he might otherwise identify it as a Yud), similar to what we wrote above in MB 48.

32:28. One should be careful that the head of a Lamed [which reaches above the line] (129) not enter into the airspace of a Heh or a Ches [which have open bottoms], even if they (132) do not touch.

MB 129: Not enter - Even the tiniest bit into the line above it. So too is the law, that letters such as the final Chaf [which has a long tail at the bottom] should not enter into a Tes or Ayin [which have open tops] in the line beneath them.

MB 132: Do not touch - Because if they touch, in any case the letters are invalid because they lack surrounding parchment. And it is implied by the language of the Shulchan Aruch, which states "One should be careful..." that this is only true before the fact, but this does not invalidate the writing after already done [in the case where they do _not_ touch]. This is only in a case where the letter does not enter into the other so much that the second loses its shape - meaning that if you would show only the top line to a child of average intelligence, so that only the top of the Lamed was showing inside the Heh or Ches, he would no longer recognize the letter. (Fixing it also does not help, because then the letters are being written out of order.) All the more so if the top of the Lamed entered into the empty space of a Dalet or Reish [both have a top and right side, like a Heh, but do not have the second, shorter vertical line on the left side], making one look like a Heh, that it is invalid. And in this case, a child reading correctly still does not help, because our eyes can see that it now looks like a different letter.

32:29. If the various portions are not (133) well-memorized, then he must copy (134) from another document.

MB 133: Well-memorized - Meaning at the moment he begins to write, he is not likely to be an expert to be able to read it properly from memory, especially in the area of "lacking" and "full" [Optional Yuds and Vovs, which do not change the reading, as we discussed earlier].

MB 134: From another document - Or from hearing someone read to him, in order that he not make a mistake. And if he has some of the portion memorized, then it is permissible to write that portion from memory. And see in the Bayis Chadash, who wrote that nonetheless it is best to write in any case from an existing document.

Yaakov Menken

Siman 32. The Laws of Writing Tefillin (cont)

32.30: One is not allowed to write [Tefillin] unless (135) one knows how to read.

MB 135: one knows how to read - because otherwise it is easy to make a mistake and not notice.

32.31: If he (the scribe) is not writing (136) [by copying] from another text he may not write (137) by heart through somebody else's reading unless he himself repeats the words (138) orally.

MB 136: [by copying] from another text - this implies that when he does write from a text he does not have to repeat the words orally. And this applies only if he is fluent with the text and only then are we not afraid that he may make a mistake [Magan Avraham]. But many of the Later Authorities disagreed with this and have ruled that in all circumstances one should recite the word orally before writing it. The reason, writes the Bach, is because this is the way of fulfilling the Mitzvah of writing Sifrei Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzos so that the holiness of the air that comes out his mouth from reading each word should be transferred to the letters when he writes them on the parchment. And all this is a priori but after the fact they do not become invalid in any situation as long as he didn't make a mistake.

MB 137: by heart through somebody else's reading - and even if he is fluent [with the text] as well.

MB 138: orally - each and every word prior to writing it inorder not to make a mistake. And how much more so if he is writing by heart without [somebody else] reading it out.

32.32: One must leave room (139) above [the letters] for the roof of the letter 'lamed' {Rama - so that they should also be surrounded by a border} and below [the letters] for the size of a (140) final 'caf' or 'peh'. At the start or end [of a line] one doesn't need to leave any space (141) at all. {Rama - However, the scribes are accustomed to leave (142) some space at the beginning and end. And one should leave a space between each word to the size of a (143) letter and between each line the size of a (144) line and between each letter (145) a hair breadth like in a Sefer Torah and as will be explained in Tur Yoreh Deah. One should also leave (146) a small space between each verse.

Jonathan Chody

The Laws of Tefillin

Siman 32: The Writing of Tefillin [continued]

32:33. The scribe should make the edges of the lines even so that one line should not be in and (147) the other out. He should at least be careful not to write (148) three letters into the margin, (149) but doing so (150) does not render the parchment unfit.

MB 147: And the other out - They should not protrude even one letter because of the principle of 'zeh keli veanvehu' (This is my God and I will glorify him - Which means that we should make all articles used for fulfilling his commandments beautiful).

MB 148: Three letters - Since the Shulchan Aruch did not diffrentiate, he implies that this is the law even if the three letters are the smaller part of the word. However, in Yoreh Deah, Siman 273, he ruled according to the Rambam that we only care that he not write most of a word outside the column, but if the word has eight letters, one may write half of it in the margin. Look in the Shach over there, who wrote that one should be stringent like the ruling here, and look in the Eliyahu Rabba, whose opinion is that at least when writing tefillin, which have short margins, one should be stringent.

MB 149: But doing so - Whether the protrusion was at the beginning of the line or the end of the line makes no difference.

MB 150: Does not render it unfit - Even if he wrote a complete word in the margin, so longs as it is evident that it is to be read with that line and not with the next column, it is not unfit.

32:34. Two letters that are a (151) complete word should not be written in the margin.

MB 151: One word - If the word has three letters, it is permitted to write two of the letters in the margin even though they comprise most of the word. {Yoreh Deah, Siman 273} Look in the Biur Halacha.

32:35. (152) Letters that are part of Hashem's name (153) must all be within the column, (154) and not protrude at all into the margin.

MB 152: Letters of Hashem's name - This includes all of the names that may not be erased.

MB 153: They must all be within.. - The Magen Avraham in the name of the Gaon, Rabbi Yitzchak of Pozna ruled that this is the case only before the fact, but after the fact the parchment may be used. However, if such a thing happened when writing a sefer Torah, he ruled that all the lines above Hashem's name be erased if none of them contain Hashem's name, and they should all be moved over so that they are even with The Name that is protruding, because since it is possible to remedy the protrusion, it is not considered after the fact. However, if there was a name of Hashem written earlier in the column, or if this happened with teillin and mezuzos where the earlier lines cannot be erased because they must all be written in order, the parchment may be used as is without any remedies. There are those who are stringent even after the fact, and Rabbi Akiva Eger and the Derech Hachaim agree with them. However, if in the upper lines the last letter is a beis, daled, reish, etc. so that he can extend the letters, all authorities agree that both in the case of a Torah scroll, and in the case of tefillin and mezuzos, he should widen the letter so that it is even with the letter of Hashem's name that is sticking into the margin, and it's not considered written out of order. So too, if he only has written one other line, and in the second line he wrote Hashem's name out of the column, he should make other line guides and draw them out so they should be long enough to reach till the end of The Name, and he need not worry about the length of the first line (I'm not sure why not. I think he's saying that all the lines should be made longer so that they are all as wide as the second longer line, but the wording doesn't seem to support this.) Know too, that with letters that are subsidiary (eg. the lamed at the beginning that means 'to') to The Name, the consensus of the later authorities is not to be stringent after the fact if they went into the margins.

MB 154: Protrude at all - Even one letter. Perhaps most of a letter protruding would have the status of an entire letter, but if only part of a letter protrudes, it's nothing. If the entire Name went into the margin, it is fit after the fact and is not similar to the case of one letter protruding into the margin, because that which it protrudes into the margin is considered like a hanging (unclear to me), and we rule in Yoreh Deah, Siman 276, that part of The Name may not be hung, as opposed to this case (where it is a full name). So wrote the Bnei Yona. On the other hand, R' Akiva Eger in his novella on this Siman is stringent even in this case. However, in his commentary, the Gra plainly implies [that the law is] like the Bnei Yona; to be lenient.

Siman 32: The Procedure of Writing Tefilin (continued)

Shulchan Aruch 32:39-41 continues with the laws governing the Batim (housings) of Tefilin that contain the parchments.

32:39. Regarding Tefilin, both the one placed on the head and the one placed the arm, it is a law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai (173) that they be square both in the stitching and the diagonals, that is, (174) that they should have equal sides, with the length the same dimension as the width, (175) so they will have the same diagonal that our Sages described: for every cubit in (the side of) a square, there are one and two fifths cubits in the diagonal. (176) And one must square off (177) the base (on which the housings rest) (178) and also the housings. {Gloss: But one need not be concerned if the height of the housings is greater than the width or the length. (Beis Yosef in the name of the Asheiri, Sefer Mitzvos K'tanos, Mordechai, and 3rd chapter of Laws of Tefilin of the Rambam)} If one (initially) made the Tefilin square, and after a while (179) they lost their squareness, (180) there are some who say (181) that they must be squared off (again). {Rama: (182) And one should make all four of the compartments (of the head Tefilin, each of which contains one of the four parchments) equal in size, so that one will not be larger than another. (Baruch She'Amar)

[The diagonal of a square is the square root of two times one of the sides, which is close to one and two fifths, by the Pythogorean theorem. LC]

MB 173: That they be square - And if one did not make them square they invalidate (the fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Tefilin) even after the fact [Maimonides, 3rd chapter of the Laws of Tefilin, see there], and in any case, if one does not have other Tefilin (available), he should put on the (non-square) Tefilin for now without a blessing, and when other (kosher) Tefilin become available to him, he should put them on, and see the Biur Halacha. [The Biur Halacha brings different opinions, and concludes that this law also applies if the housings are not square.]

MB 174: That they should have equal sides - Along the stitching, and it seems obvious to me that the stitching should be square both on top and on the bottom (of the Tefilin). And even though (the law) is not clear to me regarding after the fact, in any case, in the first place one should certainly be careful in this.

MB 175: So they will have etc. - That is, with a perfect square, whose length is exactly the same as its width, our Sages have calculated that whatever this measure (the length), the diagonal is two fifths longer; here also (with Tefilin), there must be an actual square, since if there is not an actual square the diagonal will not be two fifths longer (than the length), but will have a different measure. And therefore, one should measure the Tefilin along all four sides, to ascertain whether it is square; that is, he should first measure one side lengthwise and one side widthwise, (to determine) that they are equal. However, lest these dimensions be equal in the center but smaller along the sides, one should therefore measure two more lines along the diagonals, to insure that these are also equal.

MB 176: And one must square off etc. - And this also is a law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai according to most authorities. And this also must be a perfect square, as with the stitching, and even though an actual square in the construction of the housings, that is, one that is (square) with perfect precision, is virtually impossible to achieve, nevertheless everything humanly possible to do in this matter one is certainly obligated to do, and see the Ikrey Dinim (of R. Daniel Terni, early 19th century).

MB 177: The base - And this is the bridge. That is, one should mark the bridge on both sides so that its squareness shall be apparent, and as explained later on in Seif 44. And one must be very careful about this, because all of this invalidates (the Tefilin), even after the fact, and one must also be careful about the stitching, because since the scribes make large holes, the thread is drawn a little to the sides, and as a result of this the stitches are not aligned along the edges of the square, (that is,) one is directed inwards and the next one outwards. And the bridge must be square, both on top and underneath, and these days, because of our many sins, there are many who are not careful about their Tefilin that they should be square according to the law; even among those who are meticulous in (the observance of) Mitzvos, there are some who are careful only for the squareness of the tops of the housings and are not careful about (the squareness of) the bridge and the stitchings, which is also a basic part of the law and easily remedied.

MB 178: And also the housings - And not like the practice of a few people, who make the arm Tefilin round on top and only make the bridge square underneath; rather, both the arm and head Tefilin should be square (both on top and underneath). And what is meant (regarding the squareness of) the head Tefilin is that the four compartments taken as a unit should be square and not each by itself. And the squareness of the housings must be along the full extent of their height, and the squareness must be achieved by the housings themselves and not by means of something plastered onto them; and see later on in MB 185.

MB 179: They lost their squareness - For example, if the housings became crooked, one (side) turning eastward and the other westward; [I believe this means that the edges remain straight but that the right angles are lost, so that the shape is rhomboidal rather than square. LC] or, if the edges of the housings become rounded; or, the bridge or the stitching lose their squareness.

MB 180: There are some who say - There is no difference of opinion in this, and this is the language of the Mechaber [Rabbi Joseph Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch] in many (such) places. I have written the same thing (regarding another law of Tefilin) in MB 125 (of Siman 32).

MB 181: That they must be squared off - Since the (requirement of) squareness is a law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, it is necessary that the Tefilin be square at all times. Nevertheless, it is not necessary to measure the Tefilin each day to see if their squareness remains intact, since we presume that the Tefilin maintain their status (of squareness), unless we see that the squareness is lost. And if the bridge becomes warped, even though it is actually square but appears non-square because of the warping in the bridge, one should restore its squareness.

MB 182: And one should make - And after the fact, it is Kosher even if one compartment is larger than another.


32:40. Regarding the skin (183) of the housings, (184) it is a Mitzvah to make it (185) black (and see later on in (186) Siman 33). The grooves (of the head Tefilin) that are in between the compartments must reach the stitching, and if they don't it is Kosher, (187) provided that the (188) grooves are apparent, so that the four tops are evident to everyone.

MB 183: Of the housings - And all the more so, one should be meticulous that the (letter) Shin (on the housing of the head Tefilin) be black, since sometimes with age the blackness peels off.

MB 184: It is a Mitzvah - This implies that after the fact (if the housings are not black) the Tefilin are not invalidated. However, there are authorities who rule that it is a law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai as with the straps, and (therefore lack of blackness) does invalidate the Tefilin, even after the fact. From the Biur HaGra (Vilna Gaon's commentary on Shulchan Aruch) one can infer that he rules stringently in this, and one can infer the same from the Yeshuos Yaakov (R. Yaakov Ornstein, early 19th cent.). And one may infer from the Elyah Rabba (R. Eliyahu Shapira, early 18th cent.) and the Shiurey Kneses HaGedolah (R. Chaim Benveniste, mid- 17th cent.) that one should be stringent in this except where it is impossible, in which case one may rely on the more lenient opinion so as not to refrain from the Mitzvah of Tefilin.

MB 185: Black - And it is better that the blackness be from black paint which has no substance at all, so that the Tefilin are black in appearance only. Nevertheless, those who blacken the Tefilin with a type of polish which cannot be peeled off, even though it can be removed in thin flakes, one should not be stringent after the fact. And see what I have written in Paragraph 48 in the Biur Halacha, in the name of the Pri Megadim, that his opinion is also to be lenient here. However, the innovation of current-day scribes to blacken (the housings) with plaster that can be peeled off whole from each side of the Tefilin, and whose appearance is like black paper, renders the Tefilin invalid. [From the book Nishmas Adam, and in agreement is the Gaon who is the author of the Baal Beis Meir. This is against the opinion of the Nodah b'Yehudah, see there.]

MB 186: Siman 33 - In Paragraph 4 in the Rama, and see there in the MB that the Rama rules according to the opinion of the Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch) here, that (blackening the housings) is only a mere Mitzvah [as opposed to a Mitzvah given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and therefore one may be lenient after the fact - LC]. And according to what I have written in MB 184 (above) this issue requires study.

MB 187: Provided that etc. - But if it is not apparent from the outside, even though inside there are four compartments and each Parsha (Torah passage) rests in its own compartment, this doesn't help (to make the Tefilin valid).

MB 188: Grooves are apparent - However, a mere scratch or mark does not help at all (to make the Tefilin valid), since in any case there must be a small separation between the housings, so that the grooves are actually apparent, and the Chayei Adam (R. Avraham Danzig, early 19th cent.) rejects the practice of those scribes who stick together the compartments and cover over the entire housing with plaster or polish, and make only a mark in the polish, since it is necessary before the fact for the groove to reach the bottom, and see the Biur Halacha. And the (practice of) scribes who stretch hide over the four compartments and scratch out grooves with a knife to provide the appearance of four compartments is certainly improper; the (head) Tefilin are invalid since this practice renders them like an arm Tefilah [singular of Tefilin]. [That is, it is as if there were only a single compartment rather than four. LC]


32:41. (189) The length and width of the housings, as well as their height, have no (minimum requirement).

MB 189: The length and width - Nevertheless, it is proper to be concerned about the opinion of those Geonim who rule that before the fact, one should not make the housings together with the bridge smaller than two fingerbreadths in length and width, and see in the Olas Tamid (R. Shmuel Ben Yosef, late 17th cent.), who writes that if the housing together with the bridge is less than one by one fingerbreadth it is invalid even after the fact. It is likewise ruled in the book Biur Mordechai (R. Mordechai Benet, early 19th cent.). And see in the book Elyah Rabba, who finds reason to validate such Tefilin, but nevertheless concludes that those who are especially conscientious should be careful to make the bridge (at least) two fingerbreadths wide (and long). And besides the above opinions, it is very common in such small Tefilin that the Parshas (Torah passages) are of very poor quality because of the crampedness of the space; I have seen many of them (i.e., small Tefilin with inferior Parshas) with my own eyes. Therefore, one who guards his soul will stay away from them (small Tefilin).

Lawton Cooper


Today's Halacha was dedicated by Simcha Moshe Gerzoff, in memory of his father, Avraham Ben Yitzchak.

I am pleased to say that Nechemia ben Devorah Leah's operation was quite successful - so much so that the surgeons now say that a second planned operation should be unnecessary. Please continue to pray for his full recovery... and thanks for all that you have already done.

Siman 32: The Procedure of Writing Tefillin (cont.)

32:42. The "shin" of tefillin is (190) "halacha l'moshe mi- sinai" [an oral tradition given to Moses at Sinai] that one should make on the leather of the box ["bayis"] of the head-tefillin (191) like the form of [the letter] "shin" (192) protruding (193) from the wrinkles of the leather, one on the right and one on the left. (194) The "shin" on the right of [the tefillin when worn by] the wearer has three heads [like a normal "shin"], and the on on the left of the wearer hs four heads. {Rama: But if one switched them, (195) [the tefillin] is not invalidated.}

MB 190: "Halacha l'moshe mi-sinai" - If the "shin" becomes damaged and is not recognizable, one must fix it like new; like [the rule] if the squareness is damaged, which has been explained just above [in Seif 39].

MB 191: Like the form of [the letter] "shin" - It seems from the later authorities ["achronim"] that our forms of "shin" that we make in tefillin are good enough, for we don't require the actual exact [letter] as is written in the scrolls of the Torah, Tefillin, and Mezuzos. But the custom of scribes nowadays in some locales is to go further and write it in actual "Assyrian" script [the script we use for writing Torahs]. [I believe this is the common custom in our time. - AB]

MB 192: Protruding etc. - If he made the "shin" from another piece of parchment and attached it to the tefillin- box ["bayis"] with glue, [the tefillin] is invalidated.

MB 193: From the wrinkles of the leather - i.e. he forms wrinkles in the leather with a tweezers by folding, and he makes folds from the leather until the parts of the "shin" are formed. As far as making them with a mold, i.e. the mold has a "shin" protruding from it and he presses the mold into the leather of [the inside of] the tefillin-box ["bayis"] and a "shin" shape is formed, see the Ta"Z and the M"A from whom it seems that a priori ["l'chatchila"] is is good to avoid this. But the Knesset Hagdolah in the name of a responsa of the RM"A [resh-mem-ayin, not the Rama] wrote that this way is better. And this is the widespread custom nowadays, to make them with a mold, because this way it has the form of a "shin" with its limbs and crowns, more so than the "shin"s folded out of the leather.

MB 194: The "shin" on the right of [the tefillin when worn by] the wearer - There is no distinction in this between a "lefty" and anyone else, for we follow the general right and left.

MB 195: [The tefillin] is not invalidated - But if he made on both sides just three-headed or [just] four-headed "shin"s, [the tefillin] is invalid, and all the more so if he completely omitted one "shin".

32:43. The groove (196) of the "shin", i.e. its bottom point, (197) should reach the point of the stitching [i.e. the bottom of the cubic "bayis", where it is attached to the bottom wider "titura"]. {Rama: Likewise,(198) the "yud"[- shaped middle branch] of the "shin" should (199) reach as far down as the base of the "shin" [so the "shin" is all one piece]; and one should not stretch the "shin" very far [down], (200) in order that even the base of the "shin" should be visible above the stitching.

MB 196: Of the "shin" - whether on the right or on the left.

MB 197: Should reach etc. - i.e. actually until the "titura". Post facto, [the tefillin are] valid ["kosher"] even if it did not reach, so long as it has the form of a "shin".

MB 198: The "yud"[-shaped middle branch] of the "shin" - Some of the great [sages] distinguish between the right "shin" and the left, that on the left one should instead be careful that the "yud"s do not reach down to the base of the "shin". But the M"A decided that there is no distinction between the right and left, and on the left one we require that the two "yud"s reach down to its base. Likewise, the PM"G wrote that it is proper to do so, and likewise thw Birkei Yosef wrote in the name of the Mahar"i (see there), and likewise the rest of the later authorities decided [like the M"A]. The PM"G also wrote that one should see to it that the "shin"s should have "yud" shapes [as branches] and not just plain lines.

MB 199: Reach as far down - for otherwise it is not called a "shin", and this is an absolute condition, even post facto. And in the left "shin", if one [middle branch] reaches and one doesn't [so neither opinion above MB 198 is fulfilled] it is invalid; see the Biur Halacha.

MB 200: In order that even the base of the "shin" - meaning the point of the [bottom of the] "shin". The reason is so that the entire "shin" should be visible, to fulfill what is written [in Devarim 28:10] "And all the nations of the earth shall see that the name of G-d is called upon you", and R. Eliezer said [in Menachos 35b] "This refers to the head-tefillin", and the first letters of "The Name of G-d is called" [SHem Yhv-h Nikra] are SHIN. Post facto ["b'dieved"], if it goes a little into the "titura" to the point where [the visible part] does not have a proper "shin" shape, the halacha needs investigation; see the Biur Halacha.

32:44. The "titura" of tefillin is "halacha l'moshe mi-sinai", i.e. (201) to place leather underneath to cover the opening of the "bayis" [box]; and it looks like a plank of a bridge [because it is a flat piece] which is called a "titura". The "ma'abarta" of tefillin is "halacha l'moshe mi-sinai", i.e. that the leather of the "titura" (202) should be extended on one side and one should make the "ma'abarta" out of it. How? One should make an incision on both side so that [the "ma'abarta"] should not be as wide as the titura, in order (203) to make recognizable the squareness of the "titura". In this "ma'abarta" the strap passes through, and therefore it is called "ma'abarta". [Abar means to pass through, so ma'abarta is the place of passing through. - AB] Also on the arm-tefillin one should make a "titura" and "ma'abarta". One should roll each "parshah" (204) from its end to its beginning [i.e. left to right] (205) and wrap them (206) in a small piece of parchment, and some refrain from wrapping them in any but (207) a kosher parchment [i.e. from a kosher animal]. (208) It is "halacha l'moshe mi- sinai" that he wrap around it a hair of a kosher species of domesticated or wild animal. {Rama: (209) And the custom is to wrap a hair around the "parshah" and then wrap around it a kosher piece of parchment, and then again wrap around it a hair.} And the custom is that the hair be (210) of a calf, and if one cannot find [hair] of a calf, he wraps with [hair] of a cow or of a bull. And he first washes the hair well until it is clean. (211) Some of this hair should be visible [sticking] (212) out of the box ["bayis"].

MB 201: To place etc. - Even according to the opinion which holds that tefillin-boxes ["batim"] must actually be made from one whole piece of leather, we still do not require that the "titura" and "ma'abarta" be from one piece of leather together with the box, but even if it is a separate piece of leather it is kosher. This is what the Mechaber [author of the Shulchan Aruch] wrote "to place etc." [i.e. to place a separate piece]. But in any case, if possible, it is good to be strict even about this, to fulfill the opinions which are strict on this matter; see the Biur Halacha.

MB 202: Should be extended - and if [the "ma'abarta"] becomes disconnected [from the "titura"] it is permissible to sew it [together].

MB 203: To make recognizable - because even the "titura" must be square according to the halacha, as we have written above in Seif [paragraph] 39.

MB 204: From its end to its beginning - before he puts it into its box ["bayis"]; just like a mezuzah which is rolled from "echad" [the end of the first line] to "sh'ma" [the beginning of the first line] and not vice versa, for the reason explained in [Shulchan Aruch section] Yoreh Deah [in] Siman [chapter] 288.

MB 205: And wrap them etc. - that is, ideally ["l'chatchila"]; but if he did not wrap them, they are valid ["kosher"] post facto ["b'dieved"] if he has no other [tefillin to wear]. See the Machatzis HaShekel and Biur Halacha.

MB 206: In a small piece of parchment - and likewise in a piece of cloth, if he has no parchment; see the Biur HaGR"A.

MB 207: A kosher parchment - i.e. but not from a non- kosher domesticated or wild animal. But a cloth, even according to this opinion, is okay. See the Beis Yosef who wrote that the reason for this is that once he already brings parchment, it must be from that which is permitted to eat [see M.B. 166 -AB] like the boxes and straps. In the Biur HaGR"A he has doubts about this halacha [of requiring a kosher parchment, in general].

MB 208: It is "halacha l'moshe mi-sinai" - Therefore, if he did not wrap the hair around it, it is invalid ["posul"] even if he wrapped a piece of parchment around it.

MB 209: And the custom is to wrap etc. - because some say he should wrap the hair on the "parsha" itself and then wrap the parchment above it, and some say the opposite, therefore our custom is to fulfill both opinions [by having hair over the parchment and parchment over the hair]. But see the Biur HaGR"A, who wrote that, from the strict halacha, it does not matter which comes first.

MB 210: Of a calf - in order that one remember the episode of the [Golden] Calf and not sin; also, in order to atone for that sin [of the Golden Calf]. The E"R wrote that therefore it is good to make all the parts of the tefillin from calf leather, and not like those who make the straps from goat leather.

MB 211: Some of this hair - See the M"A and see the Chiddushei RA"E who concluded that the protruding [part of the] hair should be shorter than the length of a barley grain.

MB 212: Out of the box - Some say it that [the portruding hair] should be by the compartment in which the "parshah" of [i.e. beginning] "Kadesh" is placed, and some say by [the parshah beginning] "Vehayah Im Shamoa"; and it is good that it come out from the "parshah" of "Vehayah Im Shamoa" on the side nearer the "parshah" of "Kadesh".

Assaf Bednarsh

Siman 32: The Writing of Tefilin (Continued)

32:45 Each section (of the Tefilin) should be placed in its compartment in such a way that it is (213) standing in its compartment.

MB 213: Standing - in the way that it is read, and the way the Sefer Torah is placed in the Aron Hakodesh (the ark). If he happened to place the section in its compartment laying down there is no reason to invalidate the Tefilin because of this. This is what the Beis Yosef wrote in the name of R"I ben Chaviv and the Ba"ch wrote this and look in the Magen Avraham. It seems that one should rectify this for the future by removing them and putting them in the correct way.

32:46 The upper margin should be placed in first and the bottom margin should be (214) towards the opening of the Tefilin cases. {Rema: The beginning of the section should be placed to the right of the person reading them, that if he should open the Tefilin and read them they will be facing (215) the proper way.

[In simpler terms this is saying that the portions should be placed in the cases with the top of the words to the top of the cases, and that the beginning of each section should be placed so that when the Tefilin are opened and the parchment removed the beginning of the section is on the right.]

MB 214: Towards the Opening - Because if this is not done the letters will be upside down.

MB 215: The Proper Way - Because we see that they are ordered to be in the proper sequence for a reader who is facing the person wearing the Tefilin that he should read them in order first "Kadesh" on the right, then "Vhayah Ki Yeviacha" and then the rest of the sections, like we wrote in Siman 34, therefore, the end of the scroll which is the beginning of the section should also be to the right of the person facing the wearer. [The sections are rolled (or folded) from the end of the section to the beginning, so the end of what is wrapped is the beginning of the section.]

32:47 If he wrote all the sections (of the Tefilin for the head) on one piece of parchment they are usable (216) even if there is no space between them. This is so as long as there is a string (217) or band between each compartment. The four sections of the Tefilin for the arm are all written on one parchment and are rolled from the end to the beginning. A piece of parchment is then wrapped around it a then a calf's hair. It is then placed in the case the same way they are placed for the Tefilin of the head. If he wrote the four sections, for the Tefilin of the arm, on four pieces of parchment and placed them in (218) four different sections it is acceptable as long as he hangs {meaning covers} a piece of leather over the four sections so that it looks like one section. {Rema: (219) The custom is to glue them together that they should be like one piece of parchment, and care should be taken to use (220) Kosher glue.}

MB 216: Even If There is No etc. - This means that definitely if there so room to cut them between the sections and there will be enough parchment left to surround the writing that it is good even though that when they were written it was all one piece of parchment. The later commentaries wrote that even though in the instance when there is no space between the sections the sections will have to be placed in laying down [not standing as we learned] the Tefilin are still Kosher, because standing up the sections is only extra.

MB 217: Or Band - This means that since all the sections were written on one piece of parchment you have to separate them with a string, band or tendon, like we are accustomed to do between compartments, to demonstrate the fact that the compartments are separate. But when the four sections are written on four pieces of parchment you don't have to place anything between compartments. There are those that rule that we always need such a separation, and that is the proper custom. This is like the Mechaber (SH"A) wrote in 32:51 that one should place a string etc. The TAZ writes that post facto that the string the string is not critical because the actual ruling is according to the first opinion (that doesn't require the string when the four sections are written on four pieces of parchment).

MB 218: In Four Compartments - It is even better if he put them in one compartment.

MB 219: The Custom etc. - This means that if he placed them in one compartment, even though he definitely fulfilled his mitzvah never the less it is better to glue them together. The later commentaries wrote that even though it is proper to write them on one piece of parchment, if he already wrote them on separate pieces it is considered post facto and he may place them in the Tefilin if he glues them together. If a mistake was found in the last section it is permitted even a priori to write the section on a separate piece of parchment and attach it to the others, because that is considered post facto.

MB 220: Kosher Glue - This means from a Kosher animal. The Pri Megadim writes that this is only for a Mitzvah. Since the Tefilin are Kosher even if they are not glued there is no real concern with what they are glued.

Binyamin Rudman

Siman 32. Hilchot Tefillin The Order of Writing Tefillin (cont'd)

32:48. If one covered the tefillin with gold (221) or leather from a non-kosher animal, then the tefillin are pasul.

MB 221: or leather - meaning that the tefillin were first made from leather of a kosher animal and afterwards covered with leather from a non-kosher animal even so it is pasul and even if he left a hole where the shin on the tefillin are, so that the shin can be seen (Pri Megadim) and see the Biur Halacha [where he writes that from this we can conclude that to cover with leather from a kosher animal is O.K. as long as the shin can be seen. Also, it is clear that if there is a thick layer of paint it is kosher].

32:49. It is an oral law given to Moshe at Sinai that the tefillin should be sewn (222) using a sinew of an animal (223) that is kosher and it is best to sew (224) with the sinew of an ox.

MB 222: using a sinew of an animal - and the sinew should be taken from the heel because it is white and if they are hard they can be softened using rocks until they are like flax and then threads are made out of them. It is the opinion of the Magen Avraham at the end of small se'if 66 that threads need to be made for the purpose of tefillin but the Eliyahu Rabba and the Pri Megadim doubt this.

MB 223: that is kosher - even from carcasses [neveilot] or animals that were not ritually slaughtered [treifot].

MB 224: with the sinew of an ox - and if he doesn't have that he should use the sinew of small cattle [e.g., sheep or goats] but from a non-kosher animal even after the fact it is pasul. It is not clear if one can use the sinew of the vein [gid hanashe] for this purpose. [The sinew of the vein is a sinew that one is not allowed to eat because of the story of Yaakov and the angel (see Breishit, the end of chapter 32). I think that the doubt here is do weu say that when the torah said "so that Hashem's torah should be in your mouth", from which we learn that we can only use something that we can put in our moths, does it mean the animal in general or any specific part that can't be put in our mouth cannot be used for tefillin.]

32:50. One may not buy sinews from a non-Jew because (225) it might come from a non-kosher animal. In a place where sinews are not available one should sew (226) with "talyadrosh" that is made from parchment until sinews (227) are available.

[I will preface this section with a short discussion on majority (rov). If in a town that has 10 butchers, 9 of which are kosher, one finds in the street a piece of meat, it can be assumed that it is kosher, since we say that anything that departed of it's original place, came from the majority (kol deparish meiruba parish). However, if one went into one of the butchers and bought a piece of meat and doesn't remember which butcher it was then, since one went into it's original place, there is no rule of majority and it turns into a regular doubt and therefore the meat cannot be used. The rule here is: "Anything that is permanent (kavua, i.e., in it's original place) is like a 50-50 doubt." Now let us proceed to the Mishna Berurah]

MB 225: it might etc. - this is only if he goes to the home of the non-Jew to buy the sinews and he knows that some non- Jews take the sinews from non-kosher animals. Therefore, even though most of the non-Jews use sinews from kosher animals since he is going to the non-Jew's house where they already are, we don't go by the majority because [since we came to it's original place we go by the rule] anything that is permanent is like a 50-50 doubt. However if the non-Jew brought it to the market we can buy it from him, because since it left its original place we say that it comes from the majority unless they sell in the market in stores and then it goes back to its permanency. Also if one doesn't specifically know that there are those who take sinews from non-kosher animals then we say one can buy from them since most sinews come from kosher animals. All this is about sinews that haven't been turned into threads but for sinews that have been turned into threads, it is the opinion of the Magen Avraham that one is not allowed to buy from them even if he knows that it comes from a kosher animal because since it is an oral law given to Moshe at Sinai the threads have to be made for the purpose of tefillin and non-Jews cannot have this in mind. However I have already mentioned that the Eliyahu Rabba and the Pri Megadim doubt if we need to make the sinews for the purpose of tefillin.

MB 226: with "talyadrosh" - which are threads made from parchment and in a time of need we say that since it is from the same source they are like sinews themselves and they can be used to sew tefillin.

MB 227: are available - so that we won't be without the mitzvah of tefillin and when sinews are available he should take out the other threads and sew with the sinews. There are achronim that say that even in a time of need one shouldn't use tefillin that were not sewn with sinews since it is an oral law given to Moshe at Sinai that the tefillin should be sewn with sinews and talyadrosh is leather that was made into parchment and we never heard of using leather for sewing. According to this opinion if one doesn't have sinews with which to sew the tefillin he shouldn't make a blessing on the tefillin sewn with talyadrosh. Also threads made from the intestine, although they are similar to sinews, shouldn't be used because the oral law given to Moshe at Sinai was only for sinews. It is also written that one shouldn't use the sinews of a kosher fowl because it is difficult to tell what are sinews, what are strings and what are veins, and we need sinews.

Avi Bloch

Siman 32 The Laws of Writing Tefillin (cont)

32.51: One should sew three stitches (228) on each side and the thread should go round (229) on both sides and he should thread it through between each bayis {Rama (230) However, if he only made 10 stitches or less it doesn't invalidate [the tefillin]. Some say that these 12 stitches should be made (231) with one thread.}

MB 228: on each side - the reason for the 12 stitches is corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel. [Actually] we don't require the stiches within the bayis but next to it and we don't stitch it like a dressmaker right at the edge, but we leave over from the 'titura' on the outside of the stitches.

We require that the leather of the 'battim' should protrude beneath the mouth from all 4 sides so that they reach beyond the holes for the stiches so that the leather of the 'battim' from all sides can be stitched with the 'titura'. Not like those scribes who shorten the leather of the 'battim' so that it does not extend beyond under the holes and does not get stitched with the 'titura' but they stick it [with adhesive] into the window of the 'titura'. The Boruch Sheomar wrote that he invalidated many tefillin because of this. But it is a requirement to stitch together the leather from the 'battim' with the 'titura'.

MB 229: on both sides - This means that the complete stitch should go round on both the inside and outside. So it works out that you stitch with 2 needles one goes towards the outside while the other comes in to the inside.

MB 230: However, if - Similarly, if he didn't pass the thread through it is not crucial, after the fact.

MB 231: with one thread - If it snapped some say that he may tie a knot and some say that he should remove the thread and re-stitch it with another thread - since it snapped while being stitched it is apparent that it was a weak thread and bound to break and therefore useless. But where initially the thread is short all agree that one may tie to it another thread inorder to complete the stitching. The Pri Megadim writes that if he doesn't have any other threads he may rely on the first view and tie the snapped thread. All this applies if it snapped during stitching but if it snapped afterwards see later on Section 33:2.

32.52: One should pass the strap through the 'maabarta' (232) and make a knot (233) like a 'daled' on the 'shel rosh' and like a 'yud' on the 'shel yad' to complete the letters shin daled yud with the shin on the 'shel rosh'. {Rama: We are accustomed to attach (234) some leather over the 'bayis' of the 'shel yad' across the width of the arm so that its width should be the width of the 'bayis'. He should only make the knots (235) after making the shin on the tefillin (shel rosh) and after that he should make the daled and then the yud in the order of the letters of the name.}

MB 232: and make a knot - the knot of Tefillin is a law given [orally] to Moses at Sinai. It would appear that it should be made for the sake [of the Mitzvah of Tefillin] and not be made by a minor (not yet 13 years old).

MB 233: like a daled - Some make the knot like a final mem that looks like 2 daleds on both sides with the base of one next to the top of the other. Look in Sefer Tiferes Aryeh who quotes in the name of the Teshuvah Me'ahavah and agrees with him that those that make the knot like a daled are closer to the correct rule. One should also not make a knot that is likely to become loose as I have explained in the Biur Halacha. The Elya Rabah writes a story about someone who noticed after taking off his tefillin that the knot of the shel yad had become undone and he ruled that he must put them on again and recite the Sh'ma without a B'racha because the Mitzvah of tefillin is after all all day. His reason is because according to Rashi who holds that the yud is a rule given to Moses at Sinai (Halacha L'Moshe Mi'Sinai) he hasn't yet fulfilled his obligation.

MB 234: some leather - the reason being that because the tefillin shel yad are placed under ones cloths they get moved about and spoilt so they were accustomed to attach this leather inorder to protect them. Today we don't do this.

MB 235: after making - ie this is appropriate practice a priori. If it happened that the knot of the shel rosh became loose all he need to is restore it and is not required to undo the shel yad.



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