How to Paint Tefillin Retzuot, Straps
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The first thing one must do before painting or blackening tefillin straps is to say “LeShem Kedushat Tefillin”. If you did not say this before painting your retzuot please consult your rabbinical authority.
Retzuot made today have a shorter lifespan than those we are familiar with from the past. This is due both to modern manufacturing processes and the chemicals used. Today's retzuot are more mehudar but at best average a lifespan of only 3 to 5 years. For this reason it is very important to check your tefillin straps periodically, touch them up with paint and replace them as needed.
It is best to use commercial kosher tefillin paint which is commonly found and is available on the tefillin paint page of our web site in these forms:
- Brush Applicator
- Liquid Pen Applicator
Avoid “magic marker” type solid markers. The ink of these is not pliable enough to reach into cracks and crevasses in the leather.
Tefillin paint must have a hechsher. Even synthetic paint markers must be certified that the pigment making the paint black is mutar b’feha, edible by humans. Some synthetic markers and shoe paints utilize a blackening agent that is actually a squid by-product. Oil paints can also have questions of kashrut.
When you do the actual painting we recommend wrapping the strap around a cardboard tube such as from a roll of hand towel paper. This simulates the retzua being worn and opens up all cracks and crevasses so the paint can flow in and fill them.
If you paint your retzuot and the paint does not hold, or if the paint begins to crack or peel in a short time, then your straps have reached the point that they should be replaced with new ones. Order your new tefillin straps on HaSOFER's retzuot page.
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