This week we got a question sent in from a grandmother in the US trying to buy a kosher set of tefillin for her soon-to-be-13-year-old grandson.
I’m in search of a set of tefillin and was directed to [name of webstore deleted]. I’m wondering if you could tell me the difference in cost for what seem to be the same items. Please advise me by comparing their basic kosher Tefillin Peshutim and your Tefillin Peshutim Mehudarim. Thanks
“Buying a good set of tefillin isn’t easy,” I wrote her, “so if you’re feeling a bit lost, you’re not alone.”
I have the impression that the webstore in question is indeed a reputable vendor, but there really is no useful information on their tefillin product pages.
I can’t tell who makes the tefillin and I can’t tell the size of the boxes, but even were that information listed, it would not help much. When you purchase tefillin, especially in the $250-$450 range, you have to be sure the tefillin you’re receiving are definitely kosher.
Various little details in the production process can render a set of tefillin not kosher. Generally the main issue is the writing of the parchments inside.
Nearly every tefillin dealer online will assure you that the tefillin he sells are “100% kosher.” So you need to have complete confidence in the tefillin dealer you are buying from.
I really cannot know why that webstore prices tefillin peshutim so much higher than ours tefillin. It could be that their supplier is located in the U.S. and charges much more than our Israeli supplier. Or perhaps they have a bigger profit margin on the tefillin they sell. We have a very low profit margin on our tefillin, because we have found that a lot of people purchasing tefillin online are looking to spend under $300 for tefillin peshutim, and under $500 for tefillin gassot.
In general, you should buy the best tefillin you can afford, because upgrading to better quality tefillin is not just a matter of aesthetics.
Also, keep in mind that if you expect the recipient to wrap tefillin every day, you should try to buy tefillin gassot. Tefillin peshutim and tefillin dakkot are made of relatively thin leather, so they are prone to dents and other damage, and if they do incur damage or lose their shape over time, it may be impossible to repair them.
On the other hand, tefillin gassot can last 20 or 30 years. I bought my last set of tefillin (tefillin gassot) just before my wedding 18 years ago. Two or three years ago I had the straps replaced, and some light reshaping, and they were good as new.