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The luchot are a 1 amah cube of sapphire (6x6x6 tefachim) (Baba Basra 14a) 3x6x6 tefachim individually (Baba Basra 14a) The writing filled each side ("tradition". I think I saw this in a Gemara too) There are more words in the first 5 commandments, so the letters were a smaller size to fit.(Mabit) The letters were carved straight through the luchot. (Shmot ...
Indeed, the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l (sicha of Shabbos Parshas Ki Tisa 5741 secs. 55-57) called for them to always be depicted as square, in keeping with the Gemara you mentioned. (And Chabad publications long before that, as far back as 1942 at least, followed the same convention.) He states that shape with rounded tops was popularized by non-Jewish ...
The Biur Halacha (33:Dibur Hamaschil "Haretzuos") has a safek about whether the entire retzuah needs to be black. One can certainly cut it off, or paint it black. Tefilin paint is readily available in seforim stores. If you cut it off, it needs to go in shaimos. See Siman 33:4, that it should be painted lishmah. If you don't know what this means, then you ...
It's actually not a universal custom (even among Ashkenazim) to use a kittel in burial. R' Yechiel Michel Tykoczinski, in his Gesher Hachaim (27:4), writes that the custom in the Land of Israel is specifically not to do so, as there is a specific number and list of pieces of clothing used for burial shrouds that should not be changed.
They're similar, but not necessarily identical. I've heard in some German communities, the groom is presented with his burial shrouds as a wedding present by his in-laws elect! But usually today, what I heard from someone in a Chevra Kadisha (Jewish burial society) has a bunch of standard garments. They recite the verse about the Cohen wearing his ...
In response to a few of the above comments: "One can certanly cut it off" - Actually, that is not correct. Once the tefillin are worn for the mitzvah they become kadosh and can't be discarded unnecessarily. If the blackening of the retzuah will hold for some time (I'd say a few months) then they should not be cut. However, if you'll have to regularly touch ...
2 Additional Points: If you cut it off use a very sharp utility knife rather than scissors because unless you have professional leather shears it will be very hard to get a clean cut with scissors. For reasons beyond my knowledge, sofrim always cut them on a slant so you should probably do so as well.
Although many sources say that the Luchos was squared, Rabbi Ben Zion Mutzafi quoting a Zohar in Parshas Yisro and the Ramak רבי משה קורדובירו says that it was squared at the bottom and rounded on the top.
I heard in a recording of R' Akiva Tatz that it is a nice incorporation of a verse in Mishlei (3:3): כתבם על לוח לבך Write them on the tablet of your heart The curved top luchos are an interpolation of a heart onto the luchos.
While I'm afraid I will be unable to provide a definitive source I believe that my hypothesis to answer the question @DoubleAA referenced in his comment is all but certainly applicable here: I am not certain but I suspect that it is simply a decorative practice. I believe I have seen it done on older, non-Jewish books and I assume that the practice ...
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