could this be the result of too much laquer thinner?

I checked a pair of tefillin yesterday where the shel rosh was clearly damaged by a black liquid like substance that had gotten onto the bottom of the shel rosh parshiyos (see pic). After closer examination I saw that the bottom of the bayis, ie the tip of the mechitzos, had it as well (see pic). Clearly liquid entered the bayis at some stage and did damage. I have seen water damage but this was different because it left a grey / black stain whereas watermarks are usually clear. I think what happened here is that the bottom of the bayis had paint which was washed off with laquer thinner. You can still see some of the paint in the charitsim on the underside of the bayis. The dirty liquid (laquer thinner mixed with the paint) went thought the holes of the tefiros and enetered the bayis, staining the lower bayis and the bottom of the parshiyos. Clearly the guy used too much laquer thinner. I cannot think of any other way these parshiyos would have got damaged in such a manner.

The point of this post is two fold:

1) From a halachic / hiddur point of veiw, how bad is the staining on the letters? In the photo the stain looks light but in actual fact it is only a little lighter than the ksav (I think since th ksav being shiny reflected off the flash but the stain being matte did not). In real life you can only make out the tzurah with difficulty.
2) Those who clean the underside of the bayis with laquer thinner should take caution using too much as batim are not waterproof and absorbs liquid much more easily than we think, sometimes with bad consequences!


  1. Indeed, this is a case of too much lacquer thinner applied to the paint making it extremely viscous. The evidence, as you point out, is on the inside of the batim.

    Most of the seepage appears to be from the holes for the chut hatefira bein habatim. It appears that the bayit was painted after it was sewn, causing it to seep in an damage he parashiyot.

    A similar thing can also happen when applying thin synthetic glue at the time of segurah. If the bayit is placed upside down, the DEVEK can get into the parashiyot.

    It's a shame what happened to the ones you have. Goes to tell you the extreme care one must have when handling STaM.

  2. Out of curiosity, does anyone know what tefillin paint is made from? My guess is that the pigment is lampblack, or maybe Mars Black, but I'm unsure what the binder is. In all seriousness, perhaps R' Zvi could develop a tefillin l'netzach paint that would end these kind of tragedies.

  3. Reb Moshe, what sis the halachic staus of these parshiyos please?

  4. If a tinok may read the letters clearly they are kosher, if not, no.


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