Business Halacha: Tefillin Found Posul Five Years Later


tefillinQuestion: I purchased Tefillin for my son at his bar mitzvah. He had them checked five years later when he was in Yeshiva, and the parshiyos were found to be pasul. Am I entitled to new parshiyos from the sofer?

Answer: This depends on the nature of the p’sul. If the defect was clearly present from the outset – e.g., a missing or improperly written letter – the sofer owes you new parshiyos even many years later (C.M. 232:3). However, if a letter was cracked or faded, the sofer does not owe you, since it is possible that the parshiyos were kosher when he sold them, and the ink faded or cracked over time.

If a letter was cracked in a manner that may or may not have been from the time the Tefillin were first bought, the sofer would still be exempt out of doubt. Since the defect was discovered in your possession, we would assume that it developed later on (224:1 and Kessef Hakodoshim 232:11).

Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian
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  1. Shalom uvracha! I want to clarify this psak as it isn’t so clear cut.

    Firstly, if the psul in question is due to the letter being incorrectly formed then the sofer or supplier of the tefillin has the right to show the questionable letter to the *expert* halachic authority he regulary shows his shailahs to for his opinion. If he holds that the letter is kosher (and meets the standard of kashrus claimed by the sofer or dealer) then even if the customer’s *expert* posek disagrees then the sofer or dealer would likely not be obligated to replace the parsha. I’d think many sofrim or dealers would replace it in such a case but not out of obligation. I use the word “*expert*” since most poskim are not experts in judging letter forms so the entire basis for this issue is where the customer asked a posek who is considered an expert 9and where the sofer/dealer did the same.)

    Secondly, if an expert posek determines that a cracked or faded letter is due to the sofer’s use of poor quality ink, etc. so even if the psul happend after it was purchased may not get the sofer/dealer off the hook.

    For educational articles on tefillin and STaM in general please visit Rabbi Askotzky’s site,