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Hilchos Tefillin 33 (page 113)
מסעיף ב עד אמצע סעיף ג הלכה למשה מסיני

Kosher Materials for Retzuos
Tanning the Retzuos Lishma
Wearing Tefillin with Open Stitches

Kosher materials for retzuos
The retzuos should be made from the hide of a kosher animal (but not a fish). According to many poskim, this rule is sourced in a halacha l'Moshe m'Sinai; other poskim are uncertain.  It is proper to be stringent. The paint used to blacken the retzuos should also be made exclusively from kosher ingredients. The poskim discuss whether the materials used to polish the retzuos must all be from a kosher source.
( סעיף ג וביה"ל ד"ה עור; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 8 ו־13)

Tanning the retzuos lishma
There is a machlokes as to whether tanned leather is preferred for the batim or whether it is better to use unprocessed leather because it is stronger. Regarding ­ retzuos, all agree that the leather should be tanned.  One reason for this is because the retzuos must be soft and pliable in order to be wrapped around the arm and hand, and this degree of flexibility is made possible by tanned straps. Another reason is because the retzuos must be blackened, a process that takes place at a late stage of tanning. Tanning is thus essential to the fulfillment of this halacha l'Moshe m'Sinai.
( סעיף ג, ס"ק יח, וביה"ל ד"ה וצריך; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 10)
Wearing tefillin with open stitches
If two adjacent stitches opened on the titura, the tefillin should not be worn. If it is not possible to repair it and no other tefillin are available, such tefillin may be worn with a beracha. If three stitches -- even non-adjacent -- are missing, the tefillin cannot be worn until they are repaired. If no other tefillin are available, they can be worn without a beracha. Even one torn stitch may disqualify the tefillin if it upsets the rebua (e.g. if it is in the corner).
( סעיף ב, ס"ק יב, יג ו־טו, וביה"ל ד"ה להרמב"ם וד"ה לחוש)

  • Tefillin are pasul if a tear developed on the outer wall of a bayis or between three of the four compartments of the shel rosh. A tear in the walls of two non-adjacent compartments does not disqualify the tefillin.
  • Issues of deteriorating leather or poor quality leather explain why tefillin are pasul if a tear developed on its own; in such a case, there is the possibility of the tear spreading and reaching the outer wall of the bayis. The poskim are equally stringent about a tear caused by a person (knife), since it can also spread.



  • Blackening the retzuos

  • Blackening the underside of the retzuos

  • Who may blacken retzuos but not make batim?