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This question explains that the extra hair emanating from the tefillin shel rosh of Rabbeinu Tam tefillin is a way to identify the shel rosh of Rabbeinu Tam tefillin vs. Rash'i tefillin.

If 2 tefillin shel yad were next to each other, one Rash"i and the other Rabbeinu Tam, how could one distinguish them from their exteriors, if at all?

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  • Why do you think there is such a method?
    – Double AA
    Jan 11, 2016 at 16:48
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    To my knowledge, on the tefillin shel yad there is no external difference. Jan 11, 2016 at 16:49
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    You can match it against the other Shel Yad of the same person and see which looks less worn.
    – HaLeiVi
    Jan 11, 2016 at 18:36
  • @DoubleAA, he said why: because there's a method to distinguish the _shel rosh_​es.
    – msh210
    Jan 11, 2016 at 19:18
  • @HaLeiVi I'm not following this. IIRC< Rabbeinu Tam tefillin Is worn only following the Amidah. If you were to include the MOnday / Thurs. Tachanun and Torah reading, the amount of time wonrn is not that much less than the earlier part of Shacharit that it would make that significant a difference. What am I missing, here?
    – DanF
    Jan 11, 2016 at 21:27

3 Answers 3

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With regular sized tefillin I am not aware of any exterior difference between a Shel Yad according to Rash"i and one according to Rabenu Tam. With small ones (called Pitzponim) where you wear two sets (one Rash"i and one Rabenu Tam) of small tefillin at the same time, there is one difference. Though this is not a strict requirement but only the common custom: The retzu'ot of the Rabenu Tam are a tiny bit more narrow then those of Rash"i. That is because the Rash"i ones need to cover the Rabenu Tam ones. Both for the Shel Yad and Shel Rosh. Also the batim could be a tiny bit smaller. But this only applies to pitzponim where you wear both at the same time.

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On the shel yad no you can not tell Rashi and Rabbenu tam, but lots of sofrim make the Rabbenu tam Bayis smaller than the Rashi so you can tell

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    smaller than the Rashi: Isn't there a range of sizes for Rashi tefillin?
    – magicker72
    Feb 8, 2023 at 1:10
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    Welcome to MiYodeya Eliyahu and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Feb 8, 2023 at 4:21
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Some sofrim cut the retzuos of Rabbeinu tam tefillin to a peak instead of the common slant on Rashi (^ shape vs /). I wish this convention was more common, for example I've never seen it on Lubavitch tefillin and Lubavitch has the greatest demand for Rabbeinu Tam tefillin by far. I've also seen people write ר״ת on the underside of the מעברתא of the Rabbeinu Tam set, but both solutions require the last person who saw the shel yad open to indicated that it was Rabbeinu Tam.

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