Recently, I came across an old pair of tefillin peshutim of mine. They became un-fit for use years ago, and I have since replaced them with a sturdier pair, B''H. They aren't vintage, but they have seen better days for sure (peshutim don't hold up well in day-to-day use).

Understanding that they were a cheap pair, I was curious as to what the parchments looked like inside. I'd heard "horror stories" about cheap tefillin, and although I don't have the know-how to declare tefillin or mezuzos useable or not, I wasn't impressed with what I saw.

Anyway, when I opened up the tefillin shel yad and removed the parchment, something else fell out of the box. Upon inspection, I found that it was a small piece of cut retzuah (leather strap) that was stuffed in the compartment along with the parchment. I must say this was very unexpected.

I have never heard of any custom of putting a piece of retzuah in with the parchment. Why would there be a piece of retzuah in the compartment of the tefillin shel yad along with the parchment?

  • Simple question. Are you sure this wasn't just carelessness?
    – DanF
    May 8 '18 at 18:47
  • 2
    I think it's just filler to hold the parchment in place (like packing peanuts)
    – Double AA
    May 8 '18 at 18:59
  • Is the bayit allowed to have anything extra like this? (BTW, nice avatar. Is it you?)
    – DanF
    May 8 '18 at 20:30
  • @DoubleAA That sounds very plausible, actually.
    – ezra
    May 8 '18 at 21:49

It is filler material to prevent the parchment from turning or slipping down and it is not a good idea.

R Yerachmiel Askotzky in his book Tefillin and Mezuzos writes (p. 89)

According to some poskim, loose klaf or a piece of retzuah should preferably not be placed between a parashah [klaf] and the wall of the bayit to prevent it from turning or slipping down, as it will separate between the parashah and the majority of a wall or shin.

Instead, the matlit (the piece of parchment or animal skin that serves inside the tefillin boxes as a protective covering over the parshiot of the tefillin) should be made very long so that the excess can be used to make an accordion that will hold it it place.

Note: one cannot cut pieces from a used retzuah to hold the parashiot in place within the batim.

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