Tefillin & Mezuzah Checking FAQ’s

1. How often do mezuzos have to be checked?

  • A: Every three and one half years (Shulchan Aruch Yore Deah 291). The Shulchan Aruch says ‘twice in a shmita’. This means twice in a seven year period. People ask why it is stated in this somewhat obscure way. Why not just say, “every three and one half years” like I answered. I will give two possible reasons for this. First, a shmita was a normal unit of measure for time. Just like we talk about decades, they used shmita cycles. Second, by saying twice in a seven year period they were allowing a bit of leeway. You don’t have to count three and one half years to the day. In other words get your mezuzos checked about once every three and one half years.

2. How often do tefillin have to be checked?

A: When it comes to tefillin the answer is a bit more tricky than the answer for mezuzos. My Rav, (Rav Avraham Tzvi Wosner, Posek for the Vaad Mishmeres STaM) told me I should tell people that they should check their tefillin from “time to time”. I would like to add some key indicators that you can use to help determine if you should bring your tefillin in to a qualified sofer:

  • Your battim are not in good condition (pealing paint, rounded corners, possible lack of squareness to the point that repair may be necessary, bending on the bottom, cracks, broken stitching);
  • You are not sure what kind of battim you have (peshutos, dakkos, or gassos);
  • You don’t know the quality of your parshios;
  • You are not sure that the sofer who wrote the parshios has smicha and knows the halachos.
  • The retzuous are not completely black;
  • You don’t know if your tefillin were ever computer checked;
  • Your parshios are old;
  • You leave your tefillin in hot cars from time to time;
  • You sweat during davening which causes the battim to bend out of shape.
  • Your parshios are on the big side and had to be squeezed into the battim (which puts a lot of stress on the parshios where they are folded and can cause cracking in the letters).

The better you can answer these questions the less they probably need to be checked, but if you are vague about the answers to these questions I would advise having them checked over and not just to determine if they are kosher, but to determine if the mitzvah is being done properly according to halacha and in accord with the special love we have for this mitzvah.

3. What is a Mezuzah House Call?

A: A Mezuzah House Call is an on-site mezuzah inspection at your home or place of work. I bring along with me everything I need to check, repair, and put up mezuzos. I have new mezuzos on hand in case any of your mezuzos need to be replaced. I also have mezuzah cases. I will seal your exterior mezuzos your exterior mezuzos with a heat impulse sealer to  make them as waterproof as possible.

4.  How long will my mezuzos be down?

A: Most mezuzos are down for only a few minutes at a time. I tale down a few mezuzos, check them, and put them back up. This is the ideal way to check mezuzos.

5. What do you check for that the computer can’t do?

A: I check for broken touching letters as well as letters written incorrectly according to halacha. I also look for smudges, water and sun damage, missing taggim, and more.

6. Why do I need a Mezuzah House Call?

A: A House Call is appropriate for someone who may not have the time to take their mezuzos down, and transport them to the sofer. In addition, a house call ensures that your mezuzos are affixed to all of the doorposts that need mezuzos in secure, weatherproof casing. In 75% of the homes I correct at least one mistake relating to how the mezuzos were put up. Remember, even if a mezuzah is kosher, you can only fulfill the mitzvah if it is put up correctly. If you’ve been putting off a mezuzah inspection because of time constraints, consider scheduling an appointment.

8. Does a Mezuzah House Call cost more than bring the mezuzos to the sofer?

A: Yes, but since my prices are competitive most of my customers consider the extra charge to be well worth it. When you consider the time you will be saving and you see the quality of my work I think you will agree.

9. Can you provide me with references?

A: Yes, from customers and rabbis who are familiar with my work.

10. Can you check my tefillin at the same time that you do the Mezuzah House Call?

A: Yes, after I finish checking your mezuzos I will take your tefillin to my office and check them there. If you tell me in advance that you would like your tefillin checked I will do my best to bring you a spare pair to use while your tefillin are being checked.

11. Do you sell new tefillin and mezuzos?

A: Yes. I have a large selection of new tefillin sets, battim, retzuous, mezuzos, and cases. I also sell megillos and sifrei torah.

12. What are your credentials?

A: I have S’micha from the Vaad Mishmeres STaM and have worked for many years as a sofer. Whenever I have questions regarding tefillin and mezuzos, I ask Reb Avraham Tzvi Wosner, Rov of the Vaad Mishmereth Stam. I have my S’micha from him, and I have been asking him questions for more than fifteen years.

13. Can I bring my mezuzos to you if I am not interested in a house call?

A: Yes.

14. My shel rosh fell and the corner lost its perfect angles. I have checked with a Rav and it is still kosher, but I want to have it perfected. I had that done with an old pair and it came back perfect. Can you do that?

A: If they are gassos I can do that. If they are not gassos, I can do the best that can be done. With gassos, most corners that become dented come out perfect. I work with a battim macher who does this for me. He does an excellent job.

Tefillin Battim Questions:

What sizes of tefillin battim do you sell? Most tefillin range in size between 30 millimeters and 37 millimeters. I prefer sizes 32 and 33 millimeters because they are roomy enough to hold parshios that are written on klaf of an average thickness without squeezing them to the point of damaging them. This size fits well on most people, from a bar mitzvah boy to a full grown adult. They are not too big, and not too small. Most people are very comfortable wearing this size of battim. Sometimes people have special needs and I will get them a larger or smaller set of battim. Without a special request, I will almost provide sizes 32 and 33 millimeters in my sets of tefillin. The size represents the top part of the tefillin, the square box which actually houses the parshios. If you measure the bottom part of the tefillin, the sizes will be much larger.

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