Condition of batim/retzuos in many balabatish communities

I recently returned from a 6 week tefillin and mezuzah checking campaign. In dealing with mostly balabatim, many seniors with minimal yeshiva education, the number of batim and retzuos that lack paint is staggering. (The number of people wearing their shel rosh too low is also a very serious issue and not easy to tackle when they've been doing it for years without anyone telling them otherwise. I'm glad I've been able to made a dent over the course of a number of visits.) I'm attaching a picture of a shel rosh that blew me away. The side of the retzuah that you see is the front!! Fortunately he now has properly painted batim and all black retzuos.


  1. This is an issue which a good rav has to grapple with on a daily basis how many times can a person be corrected to fix his teffilin placement or other issues when he is already wearing teffilin for x amount of years and thinks he has the mitzva all correct not knowing how much more there is to getting it done correctly.
    Maybe someone can make a really fun nice presentation to be shown to all 7th grades before the children's bar mitzvahs or even in high school to 11th graders to give them a basic understanding of the "ins and outs " of what the mitzva of teffilin really is

  2. I cannot express how important it is to educate balebatim to check their retzuos and paint them from time to time. Is such a major halacha and so many seem so ignorant of it.

    Over 70 percent of tefillin brought to me for checking are possul before I even open them because the retzuos have white cracks and marks.

    I'm often walk through shul at shachris with a touch up marker to paint older rerzuos that are cracking. This is one of the most rewarding things I do. I don't charge for this but I find it has a tremendous uftu and people appreciate it greatly, especially once I explain how important it is.

  3. Not to minimize this at all... Just for the sake of accuracy, since the shiur "oivi" (width) if retzuos is not mentioned in Sha"s it is not meakev bdieved. As such the Retzua is only passul if there is a white streak across the entirety of it's width, although, of course, le'chatchila there should be no white at all.

    1. אני לא מסכים. אם רוב ברור ברצועה אינה שחורה, לא שייך לומר אין עובי לרוחב הרצועה, אלא נידונית אחר רובה והיא פסולה

    2. R' Moshe,

      You are a far greater Talmid Chacham then I, and I have not learned the Sugyas of Roiv... Perhaps you will agree with me that if Roiv of the Retzua is black then some white does not Passel b'dieved.

    3. Such is the opinion of the mikkdas me'at

    4. R' Eli, exact spot, please?

      I always like to look things up inside...

      Thank you

    5. Sorry Yosef, I just saw you comment now.

      I don't have the das kedoshim/ mikdash me'at sefer on stam in front of me but I just looked up the piskei tshovos who in siman 33 brings them down as the makor for the de'ah that holds ruboi kekuloi (in siman lamed gimmel sif kotton gimel). I don't remember if it's the Daas kedoshim or the mikdash me'at but they are both in the same sefer if you look at that sif you should definitely find it there.

  4. We are choshesh than less than 9mm width is a psul.

    The MB clearly did not hold of ruba kekula by retzuos. He holds a spot outside the of the minimal shiur is a tzarich iyun and within is a psul. Rav Elyashiv therefore held outside the shiur was a safek Deoraisa lechumra. Zichron Eliyahu brings down the Maharshag and Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld who held ruba kekula (and there are a few others) but you'll have a hard time finding more recent poskim who hold like that lemaaseh. Some poskim, including Rav Scheinberg used it as a tzad to create a sfeik sfeika in the tzarich iyun of the MB and I understand that Rav Shlomo Zalman held it was bedieved outside of the shiur. The bottom line, outside of the shiur is bedieved at best and we must not take the MB lightly. Well over 70% from my experience, who don't have all black retzuos have bedieved, if not pasul retzuos. There are are number of places around the kesher than wear easily and are not easily noticeable.


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