Laminated Retzu’os

(Pasul) Laminated Retzu'os

Several years ago, STAM retailers started selling retzu’os produced by a certain new manufacturer. These retzu’os were relatively inexpensive and looked particularly nice.

After a short time, the black paint on many of these retzu’os started peeling off of the leather – often in one long strip.1 Industry experts investigated and determined that the “paint” on these retzu’os was not actually paint at all, but rather a thin layer of black plastic that had been laminated onto the leather.

Most halachic authorities hold that these retzu’os are invalid, for reasons relating to the lamination itself, as well as other aspects of the manufacturing process. Many retailers followed the ruling of these poskim, and stopped selling retzu’os made by this manufacturer. Unfortunately, ignorant (or perhaps unscrupulous) dealers may still be selling them to unknowing customers.

An experienced sofer or magi’ah should be able to determine if retzu’os are laminated – even if they are not peeling. In any event, if you notice the top layer of your retzu’os peeling off, you should replace them immediately, preferably with retzu’os manufactured under Rabbinic supervision.

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  1. The standard painting process used by established retzu’os manufacturers does not usually result in paint that peels off in this way. It is theoretically possible, and it may happen in isolated incidents, but it is unlikely. ↩