Bar Mitzvah Sets

 Tallit, Tefillin  Comments Off on Bar Mitzvah Sets
Dec 122013

To tell you the truth, we avoid using the term bar mitzvah set because it can mean different things to different people. Often a bar mitzvah set consists of a tallit, matching bag and matching kippah. In other cases a bar mitzvah set revolves around a set of tefillin and often includes a siddur as well. Some bar mitzvah boys won’t want a matching kippah, and what they really need is a matching bag with custom name embroidery.

Our solution is to invite parents to browse our tallit and tefillin webstore, where they should be able to find whatever they need, and put together a bar mitzvah set of their own. Since we charge a low fixed price for shipping, essentially you only pay shipping for one item and the rest ship for free. For discounts, be sure to see our coupon listings.

Bar Mitzvah Set with Tefillin

If you would like a pair of tefillin for your bar mitzvah boy, Tefillin Peshutim Mehudarim is a popular choice. You can then choose a traditional tallit, a modern tallit or even a handwoven tallit set.

Tallit with Matching Bag and Matching Kippah

All of our Gabrieli and Maaseh Oreg handwoven tallit sets are available with matching tallit bag and kippah. Most of our tallits are also available with a matching bag and you can generally find a nice kippah that matches well among the Raw Silk Yair Emanuel kippot we offer.

If you have any questions about tefillin, tallit sizing, letter embroidery, shipping time etc., be sure to see the many resources listed at the top of our webstore, and of course you can contact us with questions, and we’ll reply right away.

Bar Mitzvah Planning – Tallit & Tefillin

 Tallit, Tefillin  Comments Off on Bar Mitzvah Planning – Tallit & Tefillin
Apr 072013

If you’re starting to look for a bar mitzvah tallit and tefillin, hopefully you still have plenty of time until the bar mitzvah. From my experience there are two types of parents: the type who start looking for a tallit and tefillin two or three months before the bar mitzvah, and others who start looking two or three weeks ahead of the big day.

Choosing a Bar Mitzvah Tallit

If you’re looking for a traditional tallit, be sure it is made of wool tallit. Wool looks nicer, lasts longer and is the fabric of choice from a halachic standpoint. When comparing prices, be aware that the same tallit made of a synthetic material (typically acrylic) will cost at least 30% less. Most tallits are either all wool or all acrylic, but there are a few out there made of a wool/acrylic blend.

The more expensive type of wool tallit is made of a denser weave and may include special features such as wool corners and stain-resistant fabric. Many parents want a traditional-looking tallit, but want it personalized for their son. They may want to have a special atara (neckband) sewn on or have the bar mitzvah boy’s name embroidered on the tallit. Personally, I discourage name embroidery on the tallit, but certainly it’s very appropriate to have a name embroidered, in Hebrew or English, on a tallit bag. Expect to pay at least $1 per letter.

Thinking of buying a handwoven tallit? Although handwoven wool tallits are common, you will also come across cotton and silk. Gabrieli is the only tallit maker I know of that works with all three materials. Their wool and cotton look very similar, although the cotton is a bit thinner and smoother in texture. A handwoven silk tallit is not the sheer silk of a silk blouse, because thick silk yarns are used. Compared to wool and cotton, a handmade silk tallit is somewhat thinner, more details and has higher sheen.

Keep in mind that a handmade wool tallit can cost anywhere from $200 to $600 and up.

Tallit Color Options

As noted above, the age-old wool tallit is invariably white with black stripes. Some Sephardic Jews have a custom of opting for a white tallit with white stripes, which has a very elegant and distinguished look. Ivory and off-white handwoven tallits look traditional, yet unique and distinctive at the same time. White with blue stripes seems to be a popular choice among bar mitzvah tallit buyers, possibly because it is not too eccentric, yet adds a bit of color and flare.

Buy traditional tallit for bar mitzvah>>

Bar Mitzvah Tefillin

Keep in mind that the halacha specifically states that one should spend more money on tefillin than on the tallit (Mishnah Berurah). Beware of bar mitzvah packages, which usually come with very poor quality tefillin that could easily be not kosher. In fact, often the tallit that comes with such package deals is also mediocre quality.

What is inside the boxes?
The box of the tefillin shel rosh (head tefillin) has four separated compartments, each with a specially prepared parchment or vellum (known as klaf) on which a different passage from the Torah is written? The tefillin shel yad (arm tefillin) has a single compartment containing a parchment with verses.

How are the Torah passages on the tefillin parchments written?
The texts must be written on properly prepared parchment or vellum called klaf. The style of the lettering varies among Jews of different backgrounds (e.g. Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Chabad), but the halachic requirements are almost identical.
The parchments placed inside a set of tefillin must be written by a trained sofer, or ritual scribe. A sofer should be stricty observant, have exemplary character and be knowledgeable about the laws of sofrut. After learning the halachic intricacies of sofrut the sofer-in-training generally does an apprenticeship (shimush) under an expert scribe. By the time a sofer writes his first set of tefillin he has typically spent 2-3 years learning his craft.

How much should a pair of kosher tefillin cost?
If you find tefillin for $200 beware!  For “bar mitzvah tefillin” or a first set of inexpensive tefillin, expect to pay at least $200 if you want to be certain they are really kosher. Inexpensive types of tefillin are referred to as tefillin peshutim, tefillin peshutim mehudarim and tefillin dakkot. Tefillin with very well-written parchments, well-crafted boxes, thick leather and quality straps generally cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, and top quality tefillin with all the strictest halachic features and frills can run upwards of $1,200.

What are “tefillin peshutim?”
Tefillin peshutim employ a simple design. The head tefillin (“tefillin shel rosh“) is made using several pieces of parchment to form the inner walls and glued within a slit square to divide it into the four required compartments. The parchments are often written on klaf mashuach, which is much less durable.

What are “tefillin peshutim mehudarim?”
Tefillin peshutim mehudarim can be roughly translated as “superior simple design.” The boxes are made from a single piece of leather as required. When complete, tefillin peshutim mehudarim look almost identical to the more expensive cowhide type, but are less durable.

What are “tefillin dakkot?”
Dak” means thin in Hebrew. Tefillin dakkot are made by stretching a thin layer of parchment over a structural base similar to the peshutim. This outer parchment forms the entire box of the tefillin, which is halachically preferable. Because of its thin design the tefillin can become halachically invalid relatively easily. Today tefillin dakkot can be hard to find. But keep in mind that until 100 years ago all tefillin were tefillin dakkot.

What are “tefillin gassot?”
“Gas” means “coarse” or “thick.” Tefillin gassot are made entirely out of a single piece of thick leather, from the cheeks and the neck of the cow, where the hide is thickest. Working such thick leather into a finely finished product requires the repeated use of several tons of pressure in industrial presses as part of a complicated, but delicate production process. The resulting battim (boxes) are so durable and thick they typically last a lifetime.

What are bar mitzvah tefillin?
Some tefillin dealers refer to their least expensive type of tefillin as “bar mitzvah tefillin.” Typically they are tefillin peshutim (see above). About a month before the bar mitzvah (customs vary) the father or a rabbi or mentor teaches the young man how to lay tefillin correctly and with reverence.

What sizes do tefillin come in?
Standard tefillin boxes measure 31-36 mm. Very large tefillin boxes, typically worn by Lubavitcher chassidim, are 40 mm or more. The smallest size, often worn by Sephardim who wear both Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam tefillin at the same time, are typically 22 mm and are actually more expensive than the standard size.

How are tefillin straps made?
The straps must also be made of leather from the skin of a kosher animal and be painted black on the upper side. The tefillin straps pass through a passageway at the back of the lower base (the ma’avarta) and are tied into special knots that form the letters dalet and yud.

Buy Tefillin for Bar Mitzvah>>


On Tefillin Prices

 Tefillin  Comments Off on On Tefillin Prices
Dec 272010

The main factor in determining the price of a set of tefillin is the quality of the writing on the parchments.

The writing on tefillin parchments is considerably smaller than the writing on a mezuzah (in most cases) or a Sefer Torah. Small writing is hard to do well, so a set of tefillin parchments takes a lot of time and effort to write, making good tefillin parchments expensive.

Inexpensive tefillin

Cheap tefillin are written more quickly. Often, they’ve been written so quickly that not only are the letters far from elegant, but they are barely kosher. Although there are G-d-fearing sofrim who write quickly, many fast writers are not 100% reliable. Even if the tefillin have been checked and certified, they may have just barely passed, relying on various leniencies, and are considered iffy.

Also, very inexpensive tefillin are written on parchment which has been treated to make it easier to write on, but this treatment accelerates the decay of the letters. So even if  the letters do come out kosher, they’re going to decay in ten years.

Kosher tefillin peshutim

Kosher tefillin generally cost anywhere from $200 to $1,200 or more. (One online dealer sells tefillin for just $150. A friend of mine, who has been selling tefillin for over 20 years, says either they’re not kosher or they are selling them at a loss.)

If you are shopping at the low end of the price spectrum, you basically have a choice of buying inexpensive tefillin peshutim mehudarim for $200-$300 or tefillin dakkot for a bit more.

Many people will advise you to stick with decent tefillin gassot, which can last a lifetime if properly taken care of. I recently spoke with a tefillin craftsman who does repair work, and he told me there is very little he can do for tefillin dakkot that lose their shape. If you buy tefillin gassot, you will be getting better quality workmanship on the battim (boxes) and better quality writing on the klafim (parchments).

Quality tefillin: A small investment

Unless you only lay tefillin occasionally, tefillin gassot are definitely worth the investment. And although $500 or $600 may sound like a lot of money at first, isn’t your spiritual life worth a relatively small investment? Would you be willing to spend a similar amount on a sofa, a rug or a computer?

Take out a calculator and see how much a pair of tefillin will cost you over time. Let’s assume they last for 20 years. That’s about 6,000 tefillin-wearing days. If you spend $600 on a set of tefillin gassot, it’s costing you just $0.10 per day to connect to the Creator. That’s quite a deal if you ask me!

There are three covenants that link a Jew to the Almighty: Shabbos, bris milah and tefillin. Each of these is worth making a special effort, and you stand to gain immensely.

Kosher Tefillin – Prices and Details>>>

More tefillin articles:
Mind, Heart and Soul by Dan Slobodkin
Tefillin Construction
Tefillin Q&A