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Hilchos Tefillin 32 (page 106)
מסעיף לח עד אמצע סעיף לט עשאם מרובעות


Squaring the Tefillin
Gauging the Square
Making Batim from Multiple Layers of Hide

Squaring the tefillin 

A halacha l'Moshe m'Sinai mandates that the tefillin be square. There is a machlokes regarding which parts of the tefillin this rule applies to. One opinion applies it only to the titura (the base or flap that covers the bottom of the tefillin). Most poskim apply it to the stitching that holds the titura closed.  According to many other poskim, the bayis itself must be squared along its entire height (but the height and width do not need to match). The halacha follows the last opinion, and a beracha is not recited if the bayis is not square.

( סעיף לט, ס"ק קעד, קעו ו־קעז, וביה"ל ד"ה שיהיו וד"ה בתפרן )      

 


Gauging the square 

Although it is not possible to make tefillin perfectly square, it is necessary to square them as much as possible. Some poskim recommend comparing the lengths of the horizontal and vertical lines and then making sure that the diagonal lines match one another. The poskim note that as long as it seems square to the eye it is kosher; one is not required to use calibers or other modern measuring tools to perfect the square. Another opinion holds that if the square is off by a millimeter it is kosher only b'dieved.

(ס"ק קעה-קעו; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 211)

 
Making batim from multiple layers of hide

The batim (both the shel yad and shel rosh) must be fashioned from one piece of hide. The poskim debate whether two hides sewn together or attached with glue can be reckoned as one. Some poskim permit glue but disqualify sewn and some disqualify glue but permit sewn. Although many poskim permit attached hides, it is preferable to make all of the tefillin, including the compartments of the shel rosh, from one hide.

(סעיף לח, ס"ק קעב, וביה"ל ד"ה יעשה וד"ה מעור; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 209; וראה שם, 208)

 

 

 


  • The parchment for the scrolls,the hides for the batim, and the sinews used to stich the tefillin must come from kosher animals. In this context, kosher animals include neveilos and treifos that were not slaughtered in a kosher manner.
 
  • It is preferable to use the thicker hides of larger animals because thinner hides frequently develop holes which are pasul according to many poskim.
 
  • According to many Rishonim, the hides for both the batim and retzuos should be processed lishma. Every item used for kedusha should be prepared for kedusha from the beginning.


 

 

 

  • Nicks that upset the ribua (square) of the tefillin


  • Inadequately blackened tefillin


  • Pasting the compartments of the shel rosh together

 

 

 

 

 

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