Completely Posel Tefillin And Mezuzos


Somebody brought me a set of tefillin this week that he purchased at a judaica store. These parshios are among the worst I have ever seen.

You don’t need to have any special education in safrus to know that these parshios are pretty bad. As always, the person who brought them to me wanted to know why somebody would sell something like this. A valid question, and one which I frequently struggle to answer in a way in which I can at least in part judge the seller favorably (although I don’t extend this favorable judgment to the suppliers of the Judaic stores as easily). I explained to him that I suspect that the person who sold him the parshios knows exactly what to say in order to avoid taking responsibility for their kashrus. The Judaica store owner just doesn’t know how to ask proper questions about tefillin and mezuzos, and the dealer is skillfully avoiding the topic. Of course, most of the time the dealer is taking advantage of the ignorance of the store owner. In this case, the customer went back to the store owner received a refund. The store keeper was disturbed that this had happened. Notably, people who sell completely unacceptable tefillin and mezuzos (like the ones in the above picture) never offer me their merchandise. In fact, not in over twenty years of being a sofer has anyone offered to sell me anything this bad. Clearly they are aware of what they are doing and they seek easy prey (read Judaic store owners, not soferim). Believe me, it’s not like I wouldn’t like to buy simple kosher tefillin for $150 and offer my customers some inexpensive kosher options.

Perhaps what the store keeper needs to know is that while he may lose some customers when he tells them the prices of kosher tefillin and mezuzos, he will also gain other customers. Some customers who truly think a mezuzah should cost $35 and won’t pay a penny more may walk out the door – it happens to me also from time to time. Others will understand that they weren’t aware of the current prices and will be happy to pay what is necessary to acquire kosher STaM. And while some customers may choose not to buy, other new customers will appear in the store as they realize that the store is serious about insuring that only high quality stam is sold there. I must qualify that just because a store is a ‘judaica’ store does not mean that they don’t have a good system in place to sell kosher tefillin and mezuzos. It’s just more likely that they don’t.