First-Time Photos of Rebbe’s Tefillin Knots Show Unique Details

Photos of the Rebbe’s tefillin knots were published for the first time in a newly-published sefer, showing a unique style of making the kesher. commissioned a sofer to explain the details.

By reporter

A long-standing debate about the Chabad custom of making the kesher of tefillin shel rosh was reignited this week when photos of the Rebbe’s tefillin keshorim were published for the first time.

The photos were published in the newly released sefe ‘Halichos Menachem’ – a compilation of the Rebbe’s minhagim and hanhagos published by Heichal Menachem in Yerushalayim. The first volume, which just arrived from the binder this week, covers the minhagim of the morning and davening.

One of the chapters in the new sefer discusses the Rebbe’s minhagim regarding tefillin, including a discussion of the keshorim in the Rebbe’s tefillin. To help visualize the unique kesher in the tefillin, the authors included something that had never been published before: photos of the Rebbe’s tefillin keshorim.

The photos were taken by the staff at the Rebbe’s library, where the tefillin are kept, alongside the tefillin of the Frierdiker Rebbe and earlier Rebbeim. The Rebbe donned four pairs of tefillin – Rashi, Rabbeinu Tam, Shimusha Rabba and Raavad, with the latter two being only shel rosh together with the shel yad of Rashi or Rabbeinu Tam, respectively. The librarians took photos of the keshorim in all four tefillin shel rosh, which can be seen in the gallery below.

The photos show a very unique type of kesher, one that is only done by select sofrim, with most doing the kesher in a different manner. Over the years, there has been much debate about the kesher, with renowned sofrim such as Rabbi Mendel Aronov a”h and Rabbi Dovid Mendelbaum staking out positions on the matter. These photos may put a rest to those debates.

To explain the uniqueness of the Rebbe’s kesher, how it is different from the ‘regular’ kesher and how one can make this kesher on their own, commissioned sofer mumche Rabbi Avremel Fried of Crown Heights.

Rabbi Fried explains each detail and the entire process of the kesher and highlights the differences between it and the kesher in most tefillins. Watch below.

VIDEO: What is Unique About the Rebbe’s Tefillin

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VIDEO: How to Make the Rebbe’s Tefillin Knot

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  1. There never was any machlokes between Rabbi Aronov a”h and R’ Dovid Mendelbaum about how the kesher was made. Rabbi Aronov wrote (העו״ב טאראנטא י״א ניסן תשע״ז) that although it was knows that this is the way the Rebbe’s kesher was made, the way it was made in Lubavitch was the way we usually make it today, and it seems that this other kesher was special for the Rebbeim.

  2. It should be noted however, that Rabbi Aronov wrote (העו״ב טאראנטא י שבט תשע״ז) that the regular way of making the kesher in Lubavitch is only one of the ways illustrated in the first video here, that the retzua is flipped to go down only after the other one already went through the bottom loop, which causes that when seen from the back one of the corners is fully white (and doesn’t that the retzua that’s going diagonally covering it).

  3. The one who discovered the kesher was Rabbi. E . Zirkind ,the Rebbe’s Sofer , when the Rebbe send his tefillin to him to put in new retzuahs, ,he measured them and took apart the retzuahs so he can put in the retzuahs exactly how they were ,to fit the Rebbe’s exactly as the old ones . The tefillin was picked up mazkirus .
    Afterwards Rabbi Zirkind informed some of his sons and talmidim and gave a demonstration on how the kesher was made, and it was not publicized to the public .
    Rabbi Zirkind did not change nor his talmidim, nor did his sons change the keshers for the public when checking tefillin or when getting new tefillin.
    this is only meant for Bais Harav – the
    Rebbe ,and its not loiharas harabim, only yichidim know this kesher. Therefore I don’t understand who has the right to publish it to the public , if Rabbi Zirkind wasn’t mefarsem this berabim ,obviously it wasn’t meant for the public.
    BTW. Its not the full kesher ,He is missing part of the kesher .
    Menachem Moskowitz, Rabbi Zirkind’s son in law

    1. Did Rabbi Zirkind have a specific Kabalah from Anash or Sofrim on the standard Kesher or it was from Minhag Haolam?

  4. Can we also please get clear pictures and a understanding of what type of Tefillin Batim the Rebbe used??

    1. Daakos as is known, the information that is been published here is not anything new, it has been known for years and anyone that wants to know any information regarding this can go to any one of the zirkin talmidim and they will happily answer any questions regarding battim one should ask Rabbi Yossi altine

  5. Does anybody have any insight as to the implications , halachic or pnimius haTorah. It seems to me that there is no apparent advantage that this new kesher brings.
    Looking forward to comments

  6. Go talk to those actually in the know such as DDovid Mandlebaum Yossi Altein Menachem Moskowitz etc Home from the early Talmidim of Rabbi Zirkind

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