What do you think we’ll find in these battim 1

These tefillin are owned by someone who would like to give them to a bar mitzvah bochur. People often come to me to check an old pair of tefillin that belonged to a family member who has passed away. Their goal is to make any needed repairs and to put them to good use, and to forge a connection between their soon to be bar mitzvah son and their deceased relative.


Let’s consider whether or not it would be a good idea to refurbish this particular set of tefillin. For starters they look very old. They are are most probably dakkos and it is hard to take responsibility for the kashrus of these types of battim. Let’s look at a closeup of what concerns me:

Without getting too technical, holes in battim are problematic. The white line running up the bayis appears to be a long holes or crack. It appears that they are more than just surface cracks in paint, more likely in some spots the cracks go all the way through into the bayis itself. On the other hand it could be that I’m just unfamiliar with the exact way that they were made and that really they are kosher. The customer came to me for help redoing the kesher and he told me that they had been checked so I didn’t need to check them but I pointed out this issue with the cracks. The customer wisely brought them to his rav who told him that they should not be used. So now the battim need to be replaced and a new issue surfaces. Are the parshios big like the battim? If so it may not be feasible to find battim big enough through the normal channels. We would most likely work with Chabad battim producers. Chabad specializes in big battim. Look how much bigger it is than a more regular sized bayis (in the non Chabad circles).

So there is nothing left to do but open them and see what we find. The fine, thin blade of my victorinox multitool should do a clean job opening them.

And here is what we find:

The parshios are small after all. Likely they are not so old like the battim. I’m sure these battim had bigger parshios in them at one time but they probably lost their kosher status. Here are the newer parshios, perfect for the kind of battim which most people use.

One Comment

  1. I opened up my great-grandfather’s tefillin a few months ago and, despite my fears, found that the parshios (from circa 1894) were still kosher, as were the bottim, although since they’re dakkos, it’s likely not feasible to fix them up to near-original condition. These were the tefillin I’d used until I bought new ones from you in 2015, so finding that they were still kosher was beyond gratifying.

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