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Hilchos Tefillin 32 (page 108)
מסעיף מא עד סעיף מג

The Forms of the Shins on the Sides of the Shel Rosh
How the Shin is Formed
The Minimal Size for Tefillin

The forms of the shins on the sides of the shel rosh 

There are two shins on the sides of the tefillin shel rosh -- one on the right side of the bayis and one on the left side. These shins are required by halacha l'Moshe m'Sinai. The one to the wearer's right has three branches and the one to the wearer's left has four branches. If the shins were placed on the wrong sides, the tefillin are kosher b'dieved. If both are three-branched or both four-branched, the tefillin are pasul. There is a machlokes as to whether these shins must resemble Ashuris script and whether it must meet the other rules for writing stam, and the matter should be treated stringently.

(סעיף מב, ס"ק קצא, קצג ו־קצה, וביה"ל ד"ה שי"ן; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 232)

How the shin is formed 

The shin of the tefillin is usually formed by pressing a raised mold from the inner side of the bayis to push the shin out. A cutout of a shin pressed from the outside should not be used because that is a problem of chok tochos (see SA seif 17). There is an opinion that considers even pressing from the inside as chok tochos and prefers forming the shin by pinching the hide with pliers from the outside. There is an opposing opinion which discourages the pinching method because it does not produce a finely-shaped shin. This opinion prefers the mold method which has been the longstanding custom.

(ס"ק קצג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 235-236)

The minimal size for tefillin

Ideally, the titura of the tefillin should be between two and four fingers' width. Other widths are kosher bedieved, but it cannot be less than one finger's width. There is a separate issue with small tefillin; in order to fit, the parshiyos must be written small, which often leads to a poor script. On the other hand, excessively large tefillin can present a problem with confining the bayis in the correct area.

(סעיף מא, ס"ק קפט, וביה"ל ד"ה אורך וד"ה אין לו שיעור; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 228 ו־231)



  • If the tefillin become nicked and lose the rebua at any level, they are pasul. The Mishna Berura is uncertain about what sized nick will disqualify the tefillin. Even according to the stringent approach, a tiny nick is not a problem.
  • The bayis, titura and ma'avarta (channel in the back of the tefillin where the retzua passes) must all be black. The poskim debate whether this rule is a halacha l'Moshe m'Sinai or a mitzva l'chatchila m'drabonon, and it should be treated stringently as a doraisa.
  • If the compartments are somewhat connected, the tefillin are kosher if the bayis was made from one hide and the compartments are separated at least on the outer side with clearly delineated lines.






  • The hairs rising from the furrow

  • Wrapping the tefillin scroll with klaf

  • "The nations will see that Hashem's name is upon you..."