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Questionable Tefillin

I recently opened up my bar-mitzvah tefillin and found that they did not have 9 yudin b’tziruf if spaces between letters are included. I chesboned that a yud with a space between it and the next letter of the word was about two millimeters, so nine yudin with eight spaces between them would be about 17 millimeters, and b’tziruf it had about 15. Plus, it does not even have the Ro”sh (although we do not pasken like him in any case) because the beginning of V’haya Im Shamoa’ has just over 3 osiyos gedolos. Is there a tzad to be machshir these parshiyos? If not, can I demand at the very least that the sofer give me a new V’hayah Im Shamoa’ to glue onto the end of the shel yad and replace that of the shel rosh?

Additionally, I also found that when I separated the charitzim they were slightly off. First off, does it matter how far off they are as far as the mayleh of chartzim nikkarim ‘ad hatefer? Secondly, do I have a right to request some form of compensation, even though the sofer from whom the tefillin were bought did not make the battim, but merely relied on the battim macher and rav hamachshir?

The tefillin are 9+ years old and I am no longer in need of them as I recently “upgraded,” but I was planning on giving these to a family member with what I thought were lower quality tefillin. If I am entitled to some form of compensation, is it based on the price of 9 year old tefillin or that of new ones, because as a result of the aforementioned (certainly the parshiyos, as I believe the charitzim were at least nikkar at the top) I may have been a karkafta d’lo manach tefillin for 9+ years?!


The shiur of nine yudin is measured according to middle-sized yudin of the same kesav that appears in the tefillin in question, although some authorities are more stringent and require the shiur of small yudin (not all authorities accept the Taz’s chiddush of small-sized yudin). The space between letters is minimal (a hairsbredth), and is not counted at all. If there is no shiur of 9 yudin, the parshios are not kosher, but once again, you have to measure the shiur based on the size of the script itself.

Concerning the charitzim (slits), they do not have to be spot on, provided that they are discernable. If most of the slit is discernable, this is sufficient for the tefillin to be kosher, even if the slit doesn’t reach the top.

It would be hard to claim compensation for the battiim, and you would have to show that the tefillin were pasul when you bought them. For the parshios, you would be able to claim compensation if they are actually pasul, but this needs careful checking. Compensation would simply mean getting your money (the price you paid) back. If they are kosher, you can pass them on to a family member.

Sources: See Mishnah Berurah 32:163-4

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