TEFILLIN BUYING GUIDE
- Sturdy outer plastic covers
- Yadel covering the shel yad
- Straps individually tied to your specification
- Photocopy of the actual parshiot inside
- Kashrut report from Mishmeret STa"M
How to Put on Tefillin: detailed pictures of the correct way to put them on
Which tefillin is right for you?
Whether you're buying a first pair of tefillin, either for yourself or for a bar mitzvah boy, or replacing/upgrading your existing tefillin, you probably have a budget in mind for your purchase. If your budget is limited choose our tefillin p'shutim mehudarim dakot ranging in price from $369 to $399. If you're able to invest in a pair of tefillin that can last a lifetime choose from our highest-grade tefillin gassot, ohr echad ranging in price from $500 to $2,300. Since at HaSOFER we actually make your tefillin ourselves we are able to offer you a wide range of price points to match any budget.
At HaSOFER every component of your tefillin is made to exacting specifications, starting with the raw leather that we import ourselves. All HaSOFER tefillin parshiot, scrolls, and batim, housings, are certified kosher and their level of hiddur, beauty and exactness, set by Rabbi Shamai K'hat HaCohen Gross, Mo"tz of K'hal Machzikei HaDat in Eretz Israel and Rav of Mishmeret Hakodesh for STa"M. Actual assembly and finishing of every pair of tefillin is done in our Jerusalem shop, all under Rabbi Gross' supervision.
Customers purchasing tefillin for $700 and up are able to take advantage of HaSOFER?s unique online hachnasah service. Watch via Skype as your tefillin parshiot are prepared and placed in your tefillin batim. For details contact us at tefillin@HaSOFER.com.
Each step in the production of every pair of tefillin at HaSOFER is done l'shem kedushat tefillin, meaning that everyone working on your tefillin keeps in mind at all times as they work that their work be done with the proper kedushah, sanctity. This begins with the selecting of the hides and continues through pressing, cutting and working the leather to form the batim; inserting the parshiot and sewing the batim to close them; painting and polishing the finished batim; tying the knots of the retzuot, straps. Insering the parshiot, sewing the batim and the other finishing steps of making your tefillin are all done exclusively in our Straus Street shop. On your next visit to Jerusalem we invite you to come in and watch these being done.
Tefillin components: Parshiot and Batim
The two most important components of your tefillin are the parshiot, parchments, and the batim, housings. These determine 90% of the price of your tefillin.
HaSOFER tefillin parshiot are divided into four price groups. Within each of these groups the differences in quality between parshiot is not great, but from group to group the variation is very significant. The best tefillin parshiot are found in tefillin that cost from $1,200 to $2,300. Below this are the parshiot in $800 to $1,000 tefillin. Further down the scale are the parshiot in $600 to $700 tefillin. Our lowest price tefillin, costing from $500 to $550, contain parshiot of the lowest quality. At HaSOFER even tefillin in the lowest price range are all guaranteed to be kosher l'hatchila l'bracha, minimally compliant with all requirements set by halacha, Jewish Law.
All of the parshiot in HaSOFER tefillin are written exclusively by our own certified sofrim, scribes. They are examined twice by our in-house, certified megihim, examiners, and are scanned directly to Mishmeret STa"M who certifies them after checking them on their computer. Computer checking of tefillin and mezuzot is highly recommended by all major poskim today. The kashrut level and price of each parchment are established by HaSOFER's poskim, rabbinical authorities, according to their adherence to halacha and level of hiddur. A photocopy of the actual parshiot present as well as the kashrut report from Mishmeret STa"M accompanies every pair of tefillin sold by HaSOFER.
HaSOFER tefillin are divided into two types according to the tefillin batim, housings:
Gassot tefillin batim, also called ohr echad, are made of a single piece of thick high grade leather that is stretched over metal plates and folded and pressed to form the familiar perfectly square tefillin shape. These are the very best type of tefillin batim available, both in their adherence to halacha and in their longevity. Exclusively at HaSOFER, the Hebrew letter shin on both sides of the tefillin shel rosh is manually pulled out of the leather while it is still moist, using a unique pliers-like tool we designed ourselves. They are made with a natural drying process that lasts 2 years and have a lifetime of up to 60 years when properly maintained. Gassot tefillin are an excellent long-term investment if it's within your budget.
Tefillin p'shutim mehudarim dakot batim are also made from a single piece of high grade but thinner leather. The required perfectly square tefillin shape is produced by folding and gluing the leather. Average lifespan of HaSOFER'S tefillin p'shutim mehudarim is seven to ten years, but this can be extended to up to twenty years when properly maintained.
Two other types of tefillin batim, which HaSOFER doesn't carry, are p'shutim and dakot. Tefillin p'shutim are made by gluing together many individual pieces of thin leather. These generally last only three to five years, after which the pieces begin to separate and the tefillin p'shutim lose their required square shape making them invalid for use. Dakot tefillin are made from a single piece of thin leather stretched over a frame and folded into shape. When made in the ideal manner they can last up to twenty years. Dakot tefillin are very difficult to make and are not currently manufactured at a kashrut level that meets the standards of HaSOFER.
Tefillin today are made in a wide range of sizes, referring to the length and width of the bayit. See our tefillin measurement chart for details of how this is measured. Halacha defines any size as kosher as long as the tefillin can be worn in the correct location on the head and arm.
The smallest tefillin are sized such that two pair can be worn simultaneously: both those made according to the opinion of Rashi in addition to those made according to the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam. Many Jews of Sephardic descent wear both pair of tefillin at the same time. The standard size tefillin made for such use today is 22 mm.
The largest size tefillin are as large as two of the smallest pair tefillin combined. This size of tefillin is commonly worn by Chabad Lubavitch Hassidim and ranges from 40 to 43 mm.
At HaSOFER our standard size gassot tefillin are 33 mm. Our standard size tefillin p'shutim mehudarim dakot are 32 mm. Special size tefillin orders, from the smallest 22 mm to the largest 43 mm, are gladly accepted, but entail longer delivery times.
Delivery time of tefillin orders
At HaSOFER we have many finished pairs of tefillin in stock ready for shipping to you. This includes both gassot tefillin and tefillin p'shutim mehudarim dakot at various price points. When we receive your order for a pair of tefillin that we have in stock, all that remains to be done is for us to tie on the retzuot according to the instructions you give us with your order and they are shipped by the next business day.
If the tefillin you order are not in stock as a finished pair, in most cases we will put them together from our large in-house stock of separate parshiot and batim. Inserting the parshiot, closing and finishing the batim, and tying the retzuot takes about a week. If we will not be shipping your tefillin within 3 business days, when we receive your order we will email you a projected shipping date.
To provide maximum security for your tefillin in transit, we ship all tefillin orders either via DHL or Israel Post Office Express Mail Service, both of which feature online tracking of the package. We send you the tracking number via email when the package is shipped.
Important final note: A purchase of tefillin should involve more than just cost calculations alone. Your tefillin are a physical manifestation of your relationship with G-d. If you put them on daily, you will want the highest quality, longest-lasting set you can afford. But even if you only use them occasionally, think about the meaning they have for you and budget your purchase accordingly.