There are several steps that I can think of that "precede" or are "peripheral" to the actual writing of Sta"m (Sifrei Torah, Tefillin and mezuzot). Can any of these be done by a Gentile?

  • Preparation / manufacturing of blank parchment sheets (I'm uncertain of the exact process of how parchment is made. Most likely, it involves numerous steps from the time of getting the skin off the animal until the time that it becomes parchment, including any "glossing" or other finishing.

  • Preparation / manufacturing of the ink

  • Sirtut - drawing rule lines on the parchment

  • Sewing parchment sheets together

  • Manufacturing atzei chayim (wooden "rollers") for Torah

  • Placing the atzei Chayim

For tefillin::

  • Manufacturing the straps including any finishing (polishing, coloring, cutting, trimming, etc.)
  • Manufacturing the batim - all parts involved including stripping the leather, and shaping the housing, and any finishing, coloring, or polishing, etc.

I may have listed, mainly items that can not be done by a Gentile, inadvertently. If there are items that can be done by a Gentile that I haven't mentioned, please mention them.

  • For mezuzos: the casing is not me’akev, so I assume that a non-Jew can make that.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


I looked at R Yerachmiel Askotzky's Tefilin and mezuzos (and checked things with R Reuvain Mendlowitz' Inside stam). R Askotzky writes there a number of the activities involved in preparing stam need to be done lishma and therefore can't be performed by non-Jews.

There are however some where lishma is not a requirement

  • raising the animals
  • slaughtering them (they don't need to be shechted)
  • salting the hides (some poskim consider these mehudar, others kosher lechatchilah, others only bdieved)
  • soaking the hides in water
  • sirtut (scoring the parchment) for tefilin

Other similarly "physical building activities" need to be done lishma, e.g.,

  • tanning and painting the hides
  • spinning the gid
  • manufacturing the batim (mentioned in R Mendlowitz book)
  • sirtut (scoring the parchment) for sefer Torah, megillah and mezuzah
  • writing
  • painting retzuot
  • and more

There will always be hiddurim that prefer for some/all these activities to be done by observant Jews.

In all cases, one should note that there are many complex halachot governing all these activites. As such, it takes a learned Jew and examiner to be sure all are done according to the law.

  • 3
    Note this is accd to the Rambam's opinion about Lishmah through gentiles. The Rosh allows gentiles to have Lishmah if a Jew stands over him and tells him to make this object for X. Ashkenazim tend to be more Meikil about this at least when needed. In fact in the last millennium it was very common to use gentiles to make parchment, at least for most of the process
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 17:49

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