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Hilchos Tefillin 32 (page 82)

Acceptable Materials for Making Ink for Stam
The Materials Used Today
Writing Tefillin With Dark Blue Ink


Acceptable materials for making ink for stam 

The poskim list five acceptable pigments for making ink for stam: bark, gallnut water, carbon (from wood or oil), guma and kankantom. The most ideal is bark, since - as part of a tree -- it is certainly kosher.  Least ideal are guma and kankantom, which are indelible; there is an opinion that the ink for stam must be erasable. A conflicting opinion holds that all kosher ink must contain guma and kankantom.

(סעיף ג, ס"ק ח, וביה"ל ד"ה יכתבם, ד"ה בין שיש וד"ה בין שלא; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 6)



The materials used today

Despite the benefits of wood-based inks, there is a longstanding practice to make the ink from three ingredients -- gallnut water, guma and kankantom -- specifically because they form a long-lasting ink. These ingredients should be cooked together to form a thick ink. Ink made without the kankantom is kosher lechatchila, but without guma it is only kosher bedieved, since there is an opinion which holds that guma is an integral ingredient. Ink made from just one of these ingredients is invalid.

(ס"ק ח, וביה"ל ד"ה בין שיש וד"ה בין שלא)

Writing  tefillin with dark blue ink

Ink for stam should be dark black, and all other colors are invalid. Despite its similarity to black, dark blue ink is invalid and even blue ink that dries black is pasul. The standard black ink available commercially is usually not dark enough for stam and often fades. Letters that were first drawn in a different color and then rewritten in black are pasul.

(סעיף ג, ס"ק ז ו־י, וביה"ל ד"ה יכתבם וד"ה הרי; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 9)




  • There are four parshiyos (paragraphs) written on the tefillin scrolls. For the shel rosh, each parsha is written on a separate parchment and inserted into one of four separate compartments in the bayis. For the shel yad, the four paragraphs are written in separate columns on one parchment and inserted into a single compartment in the bayis.
  • The parshiyos must be written in the sequence in which they appear in the Torah: kadesh, v'haya ki yeviacha, shema, and v'haya im shamoa. According to many poskim, the parshiyos of the shel yad should be written before those of the shel rosh.

  • The mesora for writing stam dictates that the daled at the end of the word echad should be larger than the other letters.





  • When two letters touch

  • When two tagim touch

  • Writing stam with the left hand or by holding the pen with the mouth