Orthodox Flap Rages Over Tefillin Straps

Are They Black Leather — Or Fake Laminate?

By JTA

Published August 30, 2012.
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Several recent rabbinic rulings that have invalidated certain kinds of tefillin straps as unfit for use are causing an uproar in the Orthodox community.

A number of rabbis in Jerusalem, Chicago, Brooklyn and Lakewood, N.J., have issued rulings prohibiting the use of tefillin straps (retzuot in Hebrew) that peel, and so-called leatherboard straps, according to Yeshiva World News. One community newspaper in New York, the Five Towns Jewish Times, reportedly has been paying for laboratory tests to determine whether newly manufactured straps – which according to Jewish law must be leather and painted black – contain any laminates or other foreign materials.

The straps at issue are relatively recent innovations and have been on the market only in the past year and a half or so, according to the reports.

At issue with the peelable straps is whether the black peel is made of dye and is part of the strap, or whether it is a fabricated laminate. Some rabbis have ruled that the peelable straps are kosher, the Orthodox website Vos Iz Neias reported.

At issue with the leatherboard straps is whether the material used in the strap was made expressly for use in tefillin, or phylacteries.


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