When the batim of the Tefillin are made, their prices vary depending on various hiddurim employed as well as the quality of the skin used.
The following is an outline of the hiddurim most commonly offered:
Ribuah- The shaping and pressing of the bayis
When the skin is cut and pressed to make it into a perfect square with its precise measurements and sharp corners, the process can be performed in three different ways:
"Yad" - By Hand
This is when the bayis is made completely through the power of the person and not with any electric machinery. Here, the machine used is a crank-powered wheel router operated by two people - one guiding the bayis along the blade and the other standing above the machine turning the wheel at a rapid rate. After it is cut, the bayis is pressed into its perfect square shape. This is considered the supreme halachik method of shaping batim.
"Regel" - By Foot
The only difference between the "yad" and "regel" method is that instead of powering the machine by hand through the crank-powered wheel, the machine is powered by only one person using foot pedals to keep the machine running. Nonetheless, it is still being fully powered by the person. Most sellers will charge a little more for "yad" since it is a more difficult process than "regel".
"Mechona" - By Machine
This method employs an electric powered machine and is considered to be a lower level of hiddur. It is important to mention, however, that many halachik authorities hold this method to be completely permissible (possibly even equally mehudar as the "Yad" and "Regel" methods) since, although the machine is being powered by electricity, the human-power is still necessary to guide the bayis in a very precise manner along the blade.
When the two letters "shin" are formed on either side of the shel rosh, there are two ways of doing so (for an outline of the entire "shin" making process necessary to understand the following explanations, see here):
"Mashuch B'yad" - The Bent Screwdriver
Once the "shin" making process has gone through the first six steps (see here), an awl-like tool that looks like a bent flat-head screwdriver is used to push the loosened leather towards the area of the colored "shin", thereby raising the "shin" off of the bayis. The bayis is then put back in the press with the "shin" mold to make the hand-made "shin" even more aesthetically pleasing. When done by hand, the lines of the "shin" will not be perfectly straight. The press helps the already hand-made "shin" become straight and perfect in its appearance.
"Mashuch B'Yad" - The pins
Once the "shin" making process has gone through the first six steps (see here), a pin, needle, or similar tool that won't bend is used to poke a hole just under the colored (but now flattened) "shin". This area is then lifted from underneath with the tool, raising one piece of the "shin" at a time. Piece by piece, the "shin" is raised until the "shin" protrudes in its entirety. The bayis is then put back in the press to close up all of the holes made by the pins and to make it more aesthetically pleasing.
It should be noted by all prospective buyers that many sellers charge more for the "pins" method than the "bent screwdriver" method. The reason for this is because it requires greater precision since, if the pin goes too far into the side of the bayis, a hole will be made and threaten the kashrus of the bayis. It is also very possible that holes will be made in the bayis and the person who made the holes didn't even realize it. For this reason, there are those who avoid this method altogether.
After the "shin" has been completed through a full "chak tochos" process (steps 1-3 here), the "shin" maker will "erase" a small portion of one leg, thereby negating the proper form of the "shin", and then remake that leg with either of the "mashuch b'yad" processes (as explained above). With this, the actual completion of the "shin" was done in a kosher way of writing/crafting the letter, albeit not in it's entirety. This method is viewed as the lowest level of hiddur and is rarely used by manufacturers today.
These are the threads used to sew the bayis closed, made from ligaments or sinews from a kosher animal.
Generally speaking, standard shel rosh batim have the required four separate compartments but without the tefiros between each one.
"Bein Bayis L'Bayis" - Between Each Compartment
This is when the tefiros are threaded through each space between the compartments to "prove" that the four batim are in fact separated. For, if the compartments were stuck together, the tefiros would not be able to go in between each.
"Hanireh M'Bachutz" - Seen From The Outside
Sometimes even when there is tefira bein bayis l'bayis, these tefiros can be tucked into the titura (base of the bayis). Having the tefiros be "nireh m'bachutz" means that one can actually see the tefiros between the batim from the outside through tiny holes before they are tucked back into the titura. This is the visual proof that there is tefirah bein bayis l'bayis.
In some cases, glue is placed between each of the compartments to ensure that they don't separate over time and lose their perfectly square shape. There are opinions, however, which hold that glue, halachikally speaking, makes the four compartments into one. According to this opinion, batim with glue between the compartments would not be considered kosher.
To fulfill all opinions, some are stringent to not have any glue at all between the compartments.
When necessary, glue is only used on the bottom third of each space between compartments and not have that glue run to the edges. With this, the majority of the space between each compartment is without glue.
|Highest Level of Hiddur||Standard||Lowest Level of Hiddur|
|"Shin"||Mashuch B'Yad||Mashuch B'Yad||Mashuch B'Yad|
|Tefiros||Bein Bayis L'Bayis
|Bein Bayis L'Bayis
|Bein Bayis L'Bayis
|Glue||None||None||None or 1/3|
- We offer batim that have been shaped and pressed with all three methods mentioned above. The prices reflect the level hiddur employed.
- Our "shin" process is done mashuch b'yad with the "bent screwdriver" method, not the pins nor through bitul.
- All of our batim have tefiros "bein bayis l'bayis" as well as "hanireh m'bachutz".
- Regarding the glue, customers can choose to not have it at all, or to have the ⅓ option.
With permission from the author, several excerpts in the preceding explanations have been taken from the book "Inside STa"M".