1

In what manner are the tefillin [placed on] the head written? [The] four passages are written on four parchments and rolled closed, each as a separate entity. They are placed in four compartments, which are covered by a single piece of leather.

The four passages of [the tefillin placed on] the arm are written on four columns on a single parchment. They should be rolled closed like a Torah scroll from the end to the beginning and placed in a single compartment.

א

כיצד כותבין את התפילין של ראש כותבין ארבע פרשיות על ארבע קלפין וגוללין כל אחד ואחד לבדו ומניחין אותן בארבע בתים שהן מחוברין בעור אחד ושל יד כותבין אותן הארבע פרשיות בארבע דפין על קלף אחד וגוללו כמין ספר תורה מסופו לתחלתו ומניחו בבית אחד:

In what manner are the tefillin [placed on] the head written? [The] four passages - mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 1: Kadesh Li (Exodus 13:1-10), V'hayah ki y'viacha (Exodus 13:11-16), Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-8), and V'hayah im shamo'a (Deuteronomy 11:13-21).

are written on four parchments - Menachot 34b explains that the word totafot, with which the Torah refers to the head tefillin, is a combination of the Carthaginian and African terms for two. Since two and two equals four, the word thus means "a four-sectioned ornament."

and rolled closed - more precisely, folded closed. Though in this halachah, the Rambam mentions only the tefillin of the arm, the parchments in the tefillin of the head are also folded from the end to the beginning, so that when they are opened, one begins reading at the beginning (Chapter 3, Halachah 7).

each as a separate entity. They are placed in four compartments, which are covered by a single piece of leather. - See Chapter 3, Halachah 2, for a description of how these tefillin are made.

Menachot, loc. cit., derives this concept from the fact that Exodus 13:9 refers to the head tefillin as "a remembrance," using a singular form of the word. This teaches that all four passages must appear as a single entity, "one remembrance."

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Keilim 18:8), the Rambam also mentions tefillin of the head in which four separate compartments are sewn together. Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:58 and the Mishnah Berurah 32:172 write that tefillin made in this manner or by gluing the four compartments together are acceptable. They nevertheless suggest that it is preferable to purchase tefillin that are made from a single piece of leather.

[At present, frequently, tefillin which are made from four compartments that are either sewn or glued together are referred to as peshutot and sold for a substantially lower price than tefillin made from a single piece of leather. The difficulty in purchasing them extends beyond one's willingness to opt for the more lenient opinion mentioned in the above sources. Since most halachic authorities advise accepting the more stringent view, most careful scribes do not use these peshutot. Thus, it is likely that they will have other problems as well.]

The four passages of [the tefillin placed on] the arm are written on four columns on a single parchment. - They may, however, be written on four separate parchments, which are later glued together (Menachot, loc. cit.).

They should be rolled closed like a Torah scroll from the end to the beginning and placed in a single compartment. - Menachot, loc. cit., derives this concept from the exegesis of Exodus, loc. cit.: "And they shall be a sign for you on your hand." The verse implies that just as the tefillin's external appearance is as a single sign, so too, internally, they should be a single entity.

2

Care must be taken in writing these passages. If one wrote a passage which should be s'tumah as p'tuchah or a passage which should be p'tuchah as s'tumah, it is invalid.

The first three passages are all p'tuchot, while the final passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, is s'tumah.

ב

וצריך להזהר בפרשיות שאם עשה הסתומה פתוחה או הפתוחה סתומה פסלן ושלשת הפרשיות הראשונות כולן פתוחות ופרשה אחרונה שהיא והיה אם שמוע סתומה:

Care must be taken in writing these passages. If one wrote a passage which should be s'tumah - As the Rambam explains at length in Chapter 8, there are two general categories for the passages of the Torah, s'tumah and p'tuchah.

S'tumah means "closed." It refers to a passage whose first word is always written in the middle of a line in the Torah. (See Chapter 8, Halachah 2.)

as p'tuchah - P'tuchah means "open." It refers to a passage whose first word is always written at the beginning of a line in the Torah. See Chapter 8, Halachah 1.

or a passage which should be p'tuchah as s'tumah, it is invalid. - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 32:36) quotes an opinion which explains that the tefillin are not disqualified for such an error. Since there is a difference between tefillin and a Torah scroll - in a Torah scroll, there are many other passages between Shema and V'hayah im shamo'a - the tefillin are not disqualified if V'hayah im shamo'a is written as p'tuchah. Contemporary Ashkenazic practice is based on this opinion. [Note our commentary on Chapter 5, Halachah 2.]

The first three passages are all p'tuchot - For this reason, the first two passages should be written in a manner in which they end at least nine letters before the end of the column (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 32:36).

while the final passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, is s'tumah. - As is explained in the commentary on Chapter 8, Rabbenu Asher differs with the Rambam and offers a different interpretation of the terms s'tumah and p'tuchah. Their difference of opinion does not create a difficulty with regard to the first three passages. A problem, however, does arise with regard to the passage, V'hayah im shamo'a. The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.) states that the Rambam's opinion should be followed. The Turei Zahav (Orach Chayim 32:26) offers a compromise, which satisfies, according to his interpretation, both the Rambam's and Rabbenu Asher's views. His interpretation, however, is not accepted by all authorities.

3

One must be careful regarding [the spelling of the words in these passages] with regard to the short or full form. [The manner in which] these four passages are written [in tefillin] should resemble the manner they are written in a Torah scroll that has been checked [for accuracy in this regard].

When one writes a word which requires a short form using a full form, it is invalid until one erases the extra letter. If one writes a word which requires a full form using a short form, it is invalid and may not be corrected.

These are [the correct spellings of the words that could present difficulties] with regard to the short and full forms in these four passages.

ג

וצריך להזהר במלא וחסר עד שיהיו ארבעתן כתובות כמו שהן כתובות בספר תורה הבדוק שאם כתב החסר מלא פסול עד שימחק היתר ואם כתב המלא חסר פסול ואין לו תקנה ואלו הן החסרות והמלאות שיש בארבע פרשיות אלו:

One must be careful regarding [the spelling of the words in these passages] with regard to the short or full form. - There are times when the Hebrew vowels cholam and shuruk are written with a letter vav, and times when that letter is omitted. Similarly, there are times when the vowel chirik is written with a yud, and times when that letter is omitted.

The expression, malei, rendered as "full form," refers to the form which includes the extra letter. Chaseir, rendered as "short form," refers to the form which lacks the extra letter.

[The manner in which] these four passages are written [in tefillin] should resemble the manner they are written in a Torah scroll that has been checked [for accuracy in this regard]. - In this context, note the comments of the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:20) and Shulchan Aruch HaRav (32:33), which elaborate on the responsibility of a scribe.

When one writes a word which requires a short form using a full form, it is invalid until one erases the extra letter. - As mentioned above, every letter of the four passages in the tefillin must be written in order. Nevertheless, although an entire passage was written, correcting a word by erasing an extra letter is not a contradiction to this principle.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 32:23) mentions that a problem may arise if the letter to be erased is in the middle of a word, since, when it is erased, the space left will cause the word to appear divided. The commentaries explain that the difficulty can sometimes be corrected by extending a letter, for example, writing a resh with an extended upper line.

If one writes a word which requires a full form using a short form, it is invalid and may not be corrected - Because the additional letter will not have been written in the proper order.

These are [the correct spellings of the words that could present difficulties] with regard to the short and full forms in these four passages. - The Rambam's inclusion of these particulars in the next four halachot is a clear expression of the desire he expressed in his introduction to the Mishneh Torah, to compose a text that will serve as "a compilation of the entire Oral Law," that would allow a person to "comprehend the entire Oral Law from it without having to study any other text." He saw the Mishneh Torah as a guide to the performance of the mitzvot, and therefore included in it details that would allow every individual to understand - and thus carry out - the minute particulars involved in the fulfillment of each mitzvah.

1. The Rambam does not use the expression, "short form," because the chirik of the alef possesses a yud. Similarly, the Rambam states "without a vav" or "without a yud" in several other instances in these halachot, because the form of the word is neither short or full in its entirety.
2. Generally, the word is written ידך. Menachot 37a explains that this departure from the norm was intended to teach us that tefillin are worn on the left hand, as explained in the commentary on Chapter 4, Halachah 2.
3. There are three sizes of letters in the Torah - the normal size, an enlarged size, and a reduced size - as mentioned in Chapter 7, Halachah 8. The Baal HaTurim notes that ayin and dalet spell the word eid, which means "witness." The Shema describes God's oneness. By reciting this verse and placing it in their tefillin and mezuzot, the Jews serve as witnesses, testifying to that oneness.
4. The Rambam also discusses the subject of crowns in Chapter 7, Halachot 8-9. When discussing this matter, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 36:3) mentions the obligation to place crowns on the letters, שעטנ"ז ג"ץ. The obligation of placing crowns on these letters is explicitly mentioned in the Talmud, Menachot 29b. Hence, they are regarded with greater stringency.

Afterwards, the Shulchan Aruch also states that there are scribes who customarily place crowns on other letters. Significantly, even in Yemen, where the Rambam's directives are usually adhered to precisely, an exception is made in this instance, and there are different customs with regard to the crowns placed upon letters.

5. Shulchan Aruch HaRav (36:5) and the Mishnah Berurah (36:15) require that one add any crowns that are lacking in the passages. This refers, however, to the crowns on the letters, שעטנ"ז ג"ץ, and not to the crowns required by the Rambam.

4

[In] the first passage, Kadesh li kol b'chor, [the word] b'chor [is written using] the full form; the word zachor [using] the full form; the word b'chozek [using] the short form; the word hotzi [using] the full form; the word yotzi'em without a vav; the word y'viacha [using] the full form; the word v'ha'emori [using] the short form; the word v'hay'vusi [using] the full form; the word la'avotecha without a vav; the word ha'avodah [using] the short form; the word matzot [using] the short form; the word hash'vi'i [using] the full form; the word matzot [using] the full form; the word s'or [using] the short form; the word g'vulecha [using] the short form; the word ba'avur [using] the full form; the word l'ot [using] the full form; the word ul'zikaron [using] the full form; the word einecha [using] the full form; the word torat [using] the full form; the word hotziacha without a yud; the word hachukkah [using] the short form; and the word l'moadah [using] the full form.

ד

פרשה ראשונה:

קדש לי כל בכור מלא זכור מלא בחזק חסר [הוציא מלא יצאים חסר וא"ו [יביאך מלא והאמרי חסר והיבוסי מלא לאבתיך חסר וא"ו העבדה חסר מצת חסר השביעי מלא מצות מלא שאר חסר גבלך חסר בעבור מלא לאות מלא ולזכרון מלא עיניך מלא תורת מלא הוצאך חסר יו"ד החקה חסר למועדה מלא:

5

[In] the second passage, V'hayah ki y'viacha, [the word] y'viacha [is written] without a yud; the word chamor [using] the short form; the word b'chor [using] the full form; the word b'chozek [using] the short form; the word hotzianu [using] the full form; the word vayaharog [using] the short form; the word b'chor [using] the full form; the word mib'chor [using] the short form; the words v'ad b'chor [using] the full form; the word zove'ach without a vav; the word b'chor in v'chol b'chor [using] the full form; the word l'ot [using] the full form; the word yadecha is written with a hey; the word ul'totafot without the final vav; the word einecha [using] the full form; the word b'chozek [using] the short form; and the word hotzianu [using] the full form.

ה

פרשה שנייה:

והיה כי יבאך חסר יו"ד ולאבתיך חסר וא"ו חמר חסר בכור מלא בחזק חסר הוציאנו מלא ויהרג חסר בכור מלא מבכר חסר ועד בכור מלא זבח חסר וא"ו וכל בכור מלא לאות מלא ידכה כתוב בה"א ולטוטפת חסר וא"ו תנינא עיניך מלא בחזק חסר הוציאנו מלא:

6

[In] the third passage, Shema, the ayin of [the word] Shema and the dalet of [the word] echad are enlarged.

The word m'odecha [is written using] the short form; the word l'vanecha [using] the full form; the wordb'vetecha without a second yud; the word uv'kumecha [using] the full form; the word l'ot [using] the full form; the word yadecha [using] the short form; the word l'totafot without both vavim; the word einecha [using] the full form; the word mezuzot without the first vav; the word beitecha without a second yud; the word uvish'arecha [using] the full form.

ו

פרשה שלישית:

שמע עי"ן של שמע גדולה דל"ת של אחד גדולה מאדך חסר לבניך מלא בביתך בלא יו"ד שנייה ובקומך מלא לאות מלא ידך חסר לטטפת חסר שני ואוי"ן עיניך מלא מזזות חסר וא"ו ראשונה ביתך בלא יו"ד שנייה ובשעריך מלא:

7

[In] the fourth passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, [the word] shamo'a [is written using] the short form; the word mitzvotai with only one vav; the word yoreh [using] the full form; the word umalkosh [using] the full form; the word v'tiroshcha without a vav; the word v'hishtachavitem [using] the full form; the word y'vulah [using] the full form; the word hatovah [using] the short form; the word notein [using] the short form; the word otam [using] the short form; the word l'ot [using] the full form; the word l'totafot lacking the second vav; the word einechem [using] the full form; the word otam [using] the short form; the wordb'vetecha without a second yud; the word uv'kumecha [using] the full form; the word mezuzot [using] the full form; the word beitecha without a second yud; the word uvish'arecha [using] the full form; the word la'avoteichem without a vav.

ז

פרשה רביעית:

והיה אם שמע חסר מצותי בוא"ו אחת יורה מלא ומלקוש מלא ותירשך חסר וא"ו והשתחויתם מלא יבולה מלא הטבה חסר נתן חסר אתם חסר לאות מלא לטוטפת חסר וא"ו שנייה עיניכם מלא אתם חסר בביתך בלא יו"ד שנייה ובקומך מלא מזוזות מלא ביתך בלא יו"ד שנייה ובשעריך מלא לאבתיכם חסר וא"ו:

8

Care must be taken regarding the placement of crowns on the letters. They are formed like [small] zeiynin on the [tops of the] letters which possess crowns as in a Torah scroll. These are the letters which possess crowns in these four passages.

ח

וצריך להזהר בתגין של אותיות והן כמו זיינין זקופות שיש להן תג כמו שהן כתובין בספר תורה ואלו הן האותיות המתויגות שבארבע פרשיות אלו:

9

There is only one letter [with a crown] in the first passage: the final mem of miyamim. There are three zeiynin upon it. In the second passage, there are five letters [with crowns]. Each of these is a heh, and four zeiynin are placed on each of them. They are: the heh of un'tanah, the first and final heh in the word hikshah, the heh of vayaharog, and the heh of yadecha.

In the third passage, there are five letters [with crowns.] They are: the kof of uv'kumecha; it has three zeiynin; the kof of uk'shartam; it has three zeiynin; the two tetim and the pei of l'totafot; each of these letters has four zeiynin.

In the fourth passage, there are five letters [with crowns.] They are: the peh of v'asafta; it has three zeiynin; the tov of v'asafta has one zayin; the two tetim and the peh of l'totafot; each of these letters has four zeiynin.

There are a total of sixteen letters which require crowns. If one did not place crowns above them, added other crowns, or reduced the number of zeiynin, the passages are not invalid.

ט

פרשה ראשונה יש בה אות אחת בלבד והיא מ"ם סתומה של מימים עליה שלש זייני"ן פרשה שנייה יש לה חמש אותיות וכל אחת מהן ה"א ועל כל ה"א מחמשתן ארבע זייני"ן והן ה"א של ונתנה וה"א ראשונה וה"א אחרונה של הקשה וה"א של ויהרג וה"א של ידכה פרשה שלישית יש בה חמש אותיות ואלו הן קו"ף של ובקומך יש עליה שלש זייני"ן וקו"ף של וקשרתם יש עליה שלש זייני"ן וטי"ת טי"ת פ"א של לטטפת על כל אות משלשתן ארבע זייני"ן פרשה רביעית יש בה חמש אותיות פ"א של ואספת יש עליה שלש זייני"ן ותי"ו של ואספת יש עליה זיי"ן אחת וטי"ת טי"ת פ"א של לטוטפת על כל אחת משלשתן ארבע זייני"ן כל האותיות המתויגות שש עשרה ואם לא עשה התגין או הוסיף וגרע בהן לא פסל:

10

A person who purchases tefillin from a person who is not an expert is required to inspect them. If he purchased 100 tefillin, he should inspect three, either two head tefillin and one arm tefillin, or two arm tefillin and one head tefillin. If he finds them acceptable, [from this time onward,] he can assume the scribe [to be proficient]. Thus, they are all considered to be acceptable and need not be checked.

If, however, one purchases them in different packages, they must all be checked, because it can be presumed that each package was purchased from a different scribe.

י

הלוקח תפילין ממי שאינו מומחה צריך לבדקן לקח ממנו מאה קציצות בודק מהן שלש קציצות או שתים של ראש ואחת של יד או שתים של יד ואחת של ראש אם מצאם כשרים הוחזק זה האיש והרי כולן כשרים ואין השאר צריך בדיקה ואם לקחם צבתים צבתים כולן צריכות בדיקה שחזקת הצבתים מאנשים הרבה לקוחים:

A person who purchases tefillin from a person who is not an expert - Note the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 39:8), which states: "One should not purchase [tefillin] from a person who is not an expert."

is required to inspect them - checking to see that no extra letters were added, no letters were omitted, and that each letter is formed correctly.

[The Shulchan Aruch's directive and the importance of checking tefillin today must be emphasized, because many scribes, particularly those who write inexpensive tefillin, are not experts. Very frequently, people have purchased tefillin only to find that the passages are not acceptable. For this reason, the Rabbis have suggested buying only tefillin that have been written and inspected by an expert.]

If he purchased 100 tefillin, he should inspect three, either two head tefillin and one arm tefillin, or two arm tefillin and one head tefillin. - Eruvin 97a states that one must check at least one arm tefillin and one head tefillin to see that the scribe is proficient in writing both.

If he finds them acceptable, [from this time onward,] he can assume the scribe [to be proficient]. - One of the fundamental principles of Torah law is that a chazakah ("assumption upon which one can rely") about a matter can be established when the matter is repeated on three consecutive occasions.

Thus, they are all considered to be acceptable and need not be checked - provided the person who sells them states that they were all written by the same individual (Mishnah Berurah 39:22).

If, however, one purchases them in different packages, they must all be checked, because it can be presumed that each package was purchased from a different scribe. - It is, however, sufficient to check three tefillin from each package.

11

After a person writes tefillin himself, purchases them from an expert, or purchases them from another person and has them inspected, and places them in their leather [compartments], they need not ever be checked again.

As long as their compartments are intact, they are assumed to be acceptable even though several years have passed. We do not suspect that a letter has faded out or been perforated. Hillel the elder stated: "These [tefillin] are from my maternal grandfather."

יא

הכותב תפילין בכתב ידו או שלקחן מן המומחה או משאר אדם ובדקן והחזירן לעורן לעולם אינו צריך לבדקם פעם אחרת ואפי' לאחר כמה שנים כל זמן שחיפויין שלם הרי הן בחזקתן ואין חוששין להן שמא נמחקה אות מתוכן או שניקבה הלל הזקן היה אומר אלו משל אבי אימא:

After a person writes tefillin himself - and inspects them

purchases them from an expert - whose work need not be inspected

or purchases them from another person and has them inspected, and places them in their leather [compartments], they need not ever be checked again. - The commentaries explain that since they are enclosed in compartments that are not exposed to air, we can presume that the letters are intact.

Though this decision is quoted in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 39:10), a qualification is already made. A pair of tefillin which is not worn on a regular basis should be checked twice in seven years. The later authorities (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 39:11 and the Mishnah Berurah 32:26) suggest checking even tefillin that are worn regularly. At present, perhaps because of the differences in the way the compartments are made or in the parchment or ink that is used, it is very common for letters in tefillin to smudge, fade, and crack. The Mateh Efrayim suggests that each person have his tefillin inspected every year. Even authorities who are not that stringent recommend periodic checks.

As long as their compartments are intact, they are assumed to be acceptable even though several years have passed. - If, however, the compartments are opened or they are exposed to water, we are obligated to check them (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, loc. cit., Mishnah Berurah, loc. cit.).

We do not suspect that a letter has faded out or been perforated. Hillel the elder stated: “These [tefillin] - the tefillin he himself wore

are from my maternal grandfather” - ”and they have not been checked since.”