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It has been brought to my attention that originally, both Ashkenazim and Sephardim used a square knot (also called the "double-daled knot") on the tefillin shel rosh, but when the daled knot was invented, tefillin makers began tying it in place of the square knot.

It seems that in general, the Ashkenazi custom is to use a square knot, while the Sephardi custom is to use a daled knot. There are, of course, exceptions to this: various Chasidic groups use the daled knot, and certain Sephardi communities use the square knot (such as the London community).

Some have told me that the use of the square knot is obsolete, and that one should use the daled knot, even if his family custom is to use a square. Some have even cited Rav Soloveitchik in this.

A few questions:

What are the origins of both knots?

Is there a reason why Ashkenazim use a square knot while Sephardim use a daled? Also, considering that Spanish-Portuguese customs usually reflect an older Sephardi tradition, does this mean that the older custom is to use a square knot?

Why would a daled knot be preferred, when it seems the square knot is older?

If you look at companies which sell tefillin online (whether this is a good idea or not aside), the default option is to have a daled. Square knots are usually tied upon special request. Could it be that the daled knot is much easier to tie?

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    Single dalet is actually much harder to tie. Yemenites also use double dalet. – Double AA Apr 10 '18 at 13:49
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    @DoubleAA I am aware with the fact that there's another "double-daled" knot but it's very strange and almost not used at all. For those who have no idea what we're talking about, it looks like this: i.stack.imgur.com/ejSod.png – ezra Apr 10 '18 at 13:54
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    Every picture of Tefillin-knots from the medieval period has the square knot, and every written instructions for tying the knot from then produces the square knot. (There are obviously Rishonim who don't write instructions and say it looks like a Dalet, but that can't be a proof they held single dalet, since even many square knot rishonim say explicitly it looks like a Dalet.) – Double AA Apr 10 '18 at 14:00
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    We all use a square knot - so add about 3 dozen people to your count. ;-) – Danny Schoemann Apr 10 '18 at 14:40
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    I have no proof for this, but to answer your title: probably people in the last few hundred years who didn't know better (which in the details of Safrus unfortunately includes many rabbis) picked the one that looked most like a Dalet because they had read that it's supposed to look like a Dalet. I mean, if you didn't know the history, read about the how the knot should resemble a Dalet, saw the two modern options, and heard what seems like forced explanations for how the square is a Dalet, what would you think? – Double AA Apr 10 '18 at 17:23

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