I'm having tefilin written for my son's bar mitzvah, and the sofer told me that today the minhag is to only put tagim ("crowns" or "thorns") on the letters שעטנז גץ throughout the tefilin and nothing else. I know that the Rambam (hilchos tefilin chap. 2 halacha 8) says to add a list of tagim, and the Simusha Rabah has a different list, and the Tur (siman 36) says combine the sets.

Do we know what the actual practice was a few hundred years ago? I actually have my Great-grandfather's tefilin from Russia c. 1910, and they don't have any extra tagim. (They were very mehudar until the ink faded.)

When did this minhag disappear (at least from the standard practice)?

  • 1
    It still exists. Don't listen to the Sofer. – Double AA Dec 9 '19 at 20:58
  • I know some people do them. But what about most people? – Mordechai Dec 9 '19 at 21:05
  • Most (?) people apparently buy from the Sofer you contacted or don't know much about STaM to ask. There will always be people who omit optional things for ease and simplicity. Don't let anyone tell you that skipping out on tradition is the New Tradition. – Double AA Dec 9 '19 at 21:11
  • By saying that my great-grandfather's tefilin were mehudar I mean to say that it is apparent that they were written by a good sofer, so he probably wasn't being lazy about the tagim, and it looks like the minhag already then was not to have the additional tagim. – Mordechai Dec 9 '19 at 22:15
  • you massively underestimate the range of "good"ness that Soferim can have. (I don't blame you; it's a pretty opaque industry in Judaism that even most rabbis have little handle on.) The educational background of Soferim a century ago is notoriously low btw. (And please stop calling not following this tradition a "minhag".) – Double AA Dec 9 '19 at 22:17

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