Retzuah problem larger than we may realize

I noticed yesterday somebody's  retzuos were peeling in a manner similar to the faulty retzuos that everyone was talking about last year. It was peeling a little and then I was able to peel off a 30cm strip of the black veneer.

The retzuos are less than a year old HOWEVER they are from a very large and well established retzuah manufacturer, with a very well known hechsher (not the same as the one that the controversy blew up about last year).

Perhaps Rabbi Traube or someone in the know can tell me if this is a new development or not.



  1. החתם סופר כתב : "פלוגתת הפוסקים בדיו עי' בני יונה דהעולה להלכה ולמעשה כי גדר הדיו הוא הצבע השחור המעובה שאינו נכנס בתוך עובי קלף מעבר לעבר כצביעת בגדים, וגם אינו כמיא בעלמא, אלא ע"ג הקלף ונדבק בו ויכולין למחקו ולהסירו ממנו." (חידושי חתם סופר, גיטין, יט, ע'א). י

    צבע נספג פנימה אל תוך העור או הקלף ואי אפשר להסירו. צבע חייב להספג פנימה ולא להתקלף. י

    The mere fact that צבע sits on top of the leather, even if it does not peel off, is already problematic. Gluing a layer of paint to the surface should be prohibited even if the glue is strong and it does not peel off.

  2. Tzvi,
    I didnt understand your remark. Should dyo/tzeva sink in or not?
    Please explain.

  3. דיו and צבע are two opposites in this regard.

    דיו must stay on the surface and NOT sink in. This way, it is possible to remove the דיו without damaging the klaf when it is necessary to make a correction.
    As the Rambam said: "שאם תמחקנו יהיה נמחק". If it sinks in, some say it not kosher for דיו .

    On the other hand, צבע is something that DOES sink into the klaf or leather. It MUST sink into the leather of the Retzuot, to be considered צבע . If it does not sink in, it is not צבע . And, if it is not צבע , it is not kosher for the Retzuot.

    It is not the peeling of the black coating from the Retzuot that makes it non-kosher. The peeling is only after-the-fact evidence. The problem here is that the coating did not sink in, even if it did not peel yet.

    Some manufacturers try hard to glue the black coating to the surface of retzuot so that it never peels. This is wrong because if it is glued to the surface it is not צבע . It must sink in.

  4. Tzvi, as respectable as you are,you have not backed up "your" opinion that retzuos must be blackened with tzeva and not with ink. Until you back it up we will go with halacha lemoshe misinai that retzuot must be black-thats it no tzeva dio etc.(for writing sta'm we must use dio and the bnei yona explains the above)
    As per the peeling problem we do have a major problem and it can happen to any manufacturer. I got heat for saying that it happened in the past even by zonnenfeld retzuos-which are the most mehudar retzuot,I visited the factory and was very impressed by the yiras shamayim, and genuine will to produce the most mehudar possible no difference what the cost.- as of now there retzuos do not have the problem.
    My feeling is that all retzuos manufactured outside of Eretz Yisroel are prone to have the problem.

    1. You are right. צבע by definition is something that penetrates. But, if it adheres well, it is kosher even if it does not penetrate.

  5. In Shulchan Aruch HaRav siman 33:5 it says that if retzuos were not painted lishmoh, there are those who say that they may be repainted (on top of the old paint), lishmoh, and it is kosher, and concludes “vtov lehachmir”, meaning bedieved it would be ok.

    In the Kuntres Achron he explains, that since by retzuos (as opposed to ksav) the visible color is what matters, therefore we consider only the top layer (which in this case was redone lishmoh) and it is therefore kosher.

    In conclusion, it seems from here that the retzuos paint does not have to penetrate the leather, it does not even have to touch the leather, and it is kosher (at least bedieved) even if there is a layer of posul painting in between.

    1. This is an interesting point, but I'm not sure you can compare this to the problem with retzuos. The A"R is speaking about a case where there is shelo lishma paint between the leather and the Lishma paint. Even thought the first paint was put shelo lishma, It is is still paint and not something else, so adding an outer layer may help. With many retzuos, there is a synthetic material being mafsik between the leather and the paint.

  6. Firstly, Rav Moshe Shaul Klein holds that until the retzuos actually peel they are kosher lechatchila however, one may return/exchange them. The Edah holds that if one sees that they are the peelable type then they are passul.
    This problem is not new (it didn't start a year ago) nor is it limited to any one maker nor to those retzuos being made outside of eretz Yisroel. A retzuos maker, who only makes in Israel under the Edah told me this. It can (and in some cases has) happen to any retzuos including those under Rav Landau and the Edah (Zonnenfeld, Shimborsky and Mendrazitsky), all of whom are yirei shamaim.


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