all black Tefillin Retzuot Straps

Retzuot Tefillin Straps

עוֹר הָרְצוּעוֹת צָרִיך שְׁיִהְיֶה מֵעוֹר בְּהֵמָה חַיָּה וָעוֹף הַטְּהוֹרִים,
וְצָרִיךְ שְׁיִהְיֶה מְעֻבָּד לִשְׁמוֹ.
הֲלָכָה לְמֹשֶה מִסִינַי שְיִהְיוּ הָרְצוּעוּת שְחֹרוֹת מִבַּחוּץ, אֲבָל מִצַּד פְּנִים
יַעֲשֶֹה מֵאֵיזֶּה צֶבַע שְׁיִרְצֶה, חוּץ מֵאָדֹם”…
(שולחן ערוך, אורח חיים, סימן לג’ סעיף ג)

The leather of the retzuot –  tefillin straps  must come from the hide of a kosher animal and the hide must be treated for the sake of Holiness. Retzuot may be made from hide or klaf parchment. Halacha L’Moshe Misinai teaches that the retzuot must be black on the outside. The inside surface may be any color except red since someone may think that the red came from bloody sores.

 

Great Selection of Premium Retzuot Tefillin Straps

The leather straps of the Tefillin bind the Tefillin to your arm. Lately people have become more demanding regarding what they expect in Tefillin straps. We find many of the Halachot about Retzuot Tefillin straps in the Gemara in Masechet Shabbat (28b). Tefillin straps should be made from leather, the skin from a kosher animal, and they must be black.

Today, there is a great selection of premium Retzuot Tefillin straps. You can order your Tefillin with shiny or matte handmade straps. These can be painted on one side and raw leather on the other or black through and through. You can also order softer straps which have been oiled. The best Tefillin straps are made in Israel, but nowadays they are also made in Italy and even in Thailand. Most have Mehadrin rabbinic supervision.

We make an effort to obtain the very best Retzuot Tefillin straps available. These straps are black through and through, and made from the finest Or Elyon – Top Grain leather, so even if the shiny paint cracks after years of use, they will still be kosher. They are supple and can be folded without problems.

Various requests from my customers have lead me to research the Halachot and customs regarding Tefillin straps beyond what is usually taught to Sofrey Stam (scribes). In fact, a specific description made by one of my clients led me on an enlightening journey to learn much more about Tefillin straps, Here is the explanation exactly as emailed from the client:

The straps that I am looking for are a supple and thicker kind of leather that is black on both sides and have a thin layer of glossy on the outside surface that when rubbed off is much like thin electrical tape and reveals a solid black matte finish underneath. The leather is softer and again, very supple. They should be cut bar mitzvah bachur width.

They should NOT be…

  • pressed leather

  • stiff leather bonded with heavy vinyl or black plastic

  • so stiff that they are prone to cracking when they are sharply bent.

  • rough on the skin

Much of the following is the result trying to satisfy the client as well as to give him halachically Beautiful Straps that even Rambam himself would approve of.

Mehudar Hand Made Tefillin Straps All Black on both sides
Mehudar Hand Made Tefillin Straps All Black on both sides

Different Quality Retzuot Tefillin Straps

leather spliiter machine
leather spliiter machine

Whole cow leather is very thick, too thick to be used as Retzuot Tefillin Straps. The leather hide goes into a machine where a blade ‘splits’ the hide into two layers. The bottom layer is known as Split Leather, In Hebrew it is called Or Tachton עור תחתון. The Split Leather is popularly known as Shpalt (perhaps from the Yiddish), or perhaps from a root similar to the word split (Since I am just a Sofer Stam not a linguist, I would not venture an opinion on the source of the word). Split leather tears easily, and doesn’t last well through daily use for many years. People who wear their Tefillin only occasionally may prefer to pay less and get “Tefillin Mehudarim”  with Shpalt straps. Cheap leather work gloves are also made of split leather, and you can buy them at any hardware store.

Image of Rambam Mezuzot and Perashia

Mezuza on Gevil and Perashia of tefillin on klaf Meubad, that I am working on today.

Image of Rambam Mezuzot and Perashia
Mezuza on Gevil and Perashia of tefillin on klaf Meubad, that I am working on today.

 

 

Arguing Jewish Style – Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur: Does the community say Seder Hakedusha of Rebbe Yehuda Halevy?

This common story is said about Jewish arguments.

To the One who sits in praise,
To the One who rides chariots,
Holiness and Blessing.

Every year on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish Calendar, a great argument occurs in the local knis – Synagogue . Do we say Seder Hakedusha of Rebbe Yehuda Halevy or not? The greatest row would always erupt at the moment that the Chazan would reach the Holy, Kedusha of Nakdishach. Screaming and yelling was central but even more harsh than screaming some people were ignoring each other.

Arguing Jewish Style
A good argument

One year the committee decided to put an end to the perpetual argument and tried to find out what the true custom was. They found a one hundred and four year old man in the local retiree village. He told them “Yes, that is the true custom, every year we argue like mad men.”

That is the traditional story. There are many variations on it. However, I would like to fill you in on how cruelly the congregation argued.

Itzik Mashala, the Chazan, was against saying Seder Hakedusha, when he got there he just skipped it. He believed that it is a Hefsek, interruption, to say it and it doesn’t matter whether Rabbi Yehuda Halevy wrote it or Moshe Rabienu himself. Solly screamed out in front of the whole knis. He called Itzik an irresponsible apikorus. Solly claimed that you have to say it since it adds so much holiness to the day. As with all arguments many other reasons were volunteered. Yankee Mashala was so disturbed by Itzik that he didn’t speak to him for eleven years. Itzik didn’t know this because he was never told and didn’t understand why Yankee never returned his calls. Some said the argument was stupid while others said that the Arguers were evil. So continued the custom for many years. Some parted from the congregation while others parted with G-d. While many others happily remained in the dysfunctional congregation. Certainly some people grew above the situation and acted to heal the ill relationships.

To the One who sits in praise,
To the One who rides chariots,
Holiness and Blessing.
(Seder Hakedusha of Rebbe Yehuda Halevy)
mailto:steve@gindi.co.il

Call 516-595-1713 Sifrey Torah, Tefilin, Mezuzot or Tefilin