How to Paint Tefillin Straps

28 Shevat 5771
February 2, 2011

tefillin-paintThe first thing one must do before painting or blackening tefillin straps is to say “LeShem Kedushat Tefillin”. If you did not say it then please consult your rabbinical authority.

The best way of painting straps is by using paint (most commonly sold in an applicator bottle) or a liquid paint marker. Most solid markers sold are the “Magic marker type” will not be pliable enough to reach the cracks and crevasses in the leather.

 Tefillin paint must have a hechsher. Even it is “synthetic paint” the pigment making the paint black must be determined as being mutar b’feha. There are synthetic markers and shoe paints which the blackening agent is a squid byproduct. Oil paints can also have questions of kashruth. I therefore I strongly recommend getting paint with a hechsher.

When you actually paint I recommend wrapping the straps around the tube from a roll of hand towel paper or the like in order to simulate it being worn and opening up all the cracks so the paint can flow into the cracks and crevasses.

If you paint your straps and the paint does not hold or begins to crack or peel in a short time – then your straps have reached a point that they should be replaced.

(Just a note: Today’s new straps longevity is less than they were years ago because the processes and chemicals used today. The straps are more mehudar but the longevity of the paint and leather is negatively affected. Today’s straps at best on average will last 3 -5 years) 

To contact Rabbi Moshe Flumenbaum directly, email moshe@hasofer.com

2 Comments

  • Eliyahu Yaniger
    February 3, 2011 - 16:17 | Permalink

    What makes today’s straps more mehudar? Are there any suppliers who still provide the old straps (which were presumably good enough for Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Moshe Feinstein, the Chazon Ish, etc.)?

  • Moshe Flumenbaum
    February 6, 2011 - 09:51 | Permalink

    I would venture to say that the straps which Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Moshe Feinstein, the Chazon Ish, etc. used were avodath Yad hand tanned and painted straps, made all the hedurim still available today — I am sure nothing less was good enough for them

    The only exceptions are the chemicals which are now being used and how then are tanned in some cases — the new chemicals allow the straps to be processed faster with less risk of a bad batch — economically more sound for the manufacturer — the bad news is the longevity is much less the process used in the olden days —- to my knowledge no one is producing straps in the old way and in fact it is difficult to find the old ingredients used in the tanning as well as making the old style paint — today it is all synthetic paints and commercial tanning products — we are forced to check and change our straps more often

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