STAM bits: Batim

The black boxes that house the tefilin parshi’os are called “batim”. The tefilin shel yad is one compartment containing one roll of parchment (with all four parshi’os written on it); the tefilin shel rosh has four compartments, each containing one parsha. The batim must be made from the skin of a kosher animal and they must be made “lishma”. High quality batim — called “gasos” — are made from the thick skin of a large animal (usually a cow), by stretching, folding and compressing one piece of leather into the required shape. Well-made gasos are expensive but should have a lifespan of about 100 years. Lower quality batim include “dakos” — similar to gasos but made from the thinner skin of a goat or sheep; and “pshutim” — made by cutting and gluing many different pieces of leather together. Both dakos and pshutim will start to lose their shape after 10-15 years and are not recommended under most circumstances. Pshutim are (at best) kosher bidi’eved according to most poskim.

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