That moment we all dread...

It happened to me again last Friday. I found a missing word in someone's tefillin. The owner of the tefillin is about 55, he bought the tefillin about twenty years ago and had them checked only once since then.

The first question I always get asked in these situations is "Was I yotzei mitzvas tefillin for the past 20 years or not?" When it's a psul like a small negiya, there is yesh lismoch. Likewise with nifsakim, spacing and other potential errors, you can find what to rely on for the past. But it's hard to sugar coat a spelling mistake.

There is one teshuvah from the Har Tzvi that's seems to imply you are yotzei if your intent was there, even if the tefillin were possul. Is this a limmud zchus or actually the halacha? I never got it clear. I like to make people feel better, but I need to base it on something legit.

If anyone has teshuvos or mekoros or advice on this inyan I'd like to please know about it.


  1. A) A teshuva stating such can certainly be considered "legit." Can you show us the source so we can have a look?

    B) There are much better sources than an obscure teshuva, unless your looking davka for a reference to Tefillin.

    For instance:
    :מסכת שבת פרק ו, דף סג, א
    א"ר אמי אפילו חישב לעשות מצוה ונאנס ולא עשאה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו עשאה

    :מסכת קידושין פרק א, דף מ, א
    מחשבה טובה מצרפה למעשה שנאמר (מלאכי ג) אז נדברו יראי ה' איש אל רעהו ויקשב ה' וישמע ויכתב ספר זכרון לפניו ליראי ה' ולחושבי שמו מאי ולחושבי שמו אמר רב אסי אפילו חשב אדם לעשות מצוה ונאנס ולא עשאה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו עשאה

    According to these Gemaras, there's no doubt what so ever that if someone meant to put on Kosher Tefillin, and they turn out to be pasul, it is still considered as if he actually did the Mitzvah!

    c) In any event, there's no question that one who put on Tefillin, even unknowingly putting on passul ones, is fulfilling many mitzvos. Even if, for some reason one would want to discount the words of the holy Tanaaim in the above Gemaras, putting on Tefillin encompasses many, many mitzvos besides the actual mitzvah of putting on kosher Tefillin, and all those mitzvos still remain.

    1. I will look up the teshuvah when I get a chance and put the mareh makom up.

    2. Also see The Ben Ish Chai, Shut Rav Peolim O'C chelek daled siman beis. While he concludes you are yotzi, he brings down opinions that say you are not.

      The Har Tzvi is O"C chelek alef siman lamed hai.


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