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Today we present you with one of the most fascinating photo galleries of any trip we’ve ever taken – we think you’ll agree!
It’s an experience every 12 year old should have, but most don’t even know to consider it.
Under a simple home in Brooklyn, NY sits a master craftsman with his treasure trove of tools, leather scraps, animal tails, paint, hand tools and some of the most precise digital technology in the world.
Throughout any give day, those in the know will stop in to see this humble Tzadik, and those lucky enough to watch his craft will undoubtedly walk away inspired.
It took a lot of convincing to allow Rabbi Yaakov Michael to allow us to bring our camera and share this article with you, our readership, and it was only after I explained that the appreciation and respect for his new tefillin which our recent Bar Mitzvah, Simcha Peretz took away from it, that he reluctantly allowed me to do so.
Full disclosure – we snuck our son out of his 4th grade class to go along on a class trip with his grandfather’s parallel 4th grade class trip to watch Reb Yaakov in action, and since then he has wanted his tefillin from nowhere else.
And no wonder.
Hidden behind a simple nondescript door with the faded olivewood plaque that understatedly says “batim macher”, you would never know to expect such a fascinating personality to be found.
Always shying from the limelight but bursting with, knowledge, creativity, talent, simcha, fascinating stories, and some of the most unusual machinery you have ever seen, Rabbi Michael led the class on a journey to remember showing them every phase of how tefillin are made in a hands-on way, even allowing the kids to form their own clay “shins” on their own to bring the process to life.
So we ordered our son’s tefillin approximately a year before his Bar Mitzvah, and about six months later, were called in for an appointment to see the first phase of his tefillin being made.
After greeting us and giving us a brief introduction to what was going to happen and how it would work, the actual process began.
Continuing with your article...
Using no electric powered tools to perform his tasks, Reb Yaakov shows us his foot-powered equipment; a ‘Rube Goldberg’ like combination of exercise stepper, stationary bike, 1700’s wagon wheel, drill,
and some of the most technologically advanced laser measurement devices that keep his work accurate to the hundredth of a millimeter (!), Reb Yakkov took the basic ‘batim’ forms and began the process of squaring them out properly for use.
See the foot powered pedals in the picture that operate the drill, as our son watches the process drill bit with rapt attention
The shel rosh being formed and the leather shavings that come off, which incidentally are collected and placed in sheimos
Using the minutest hand maneuvers and years of experience to form the bayis around the initial ‘shin’, a process that will later be repeated by hand
Closely watching the drill bit to ensure absolute accuracy on the angles – all moved by hand!
Squaring out the top of the head tefillin – you can plainly see the four separate compartments
To show that the four compartments are completely separate leather entities, Reb Yaakov slides a sharp knife between them down to the base
Always peppering his work with interesting anecdotes,
Rabbi Michael shows us his favorite knife – another of his own contraptions created with a piece of rubber hose and some other unique what-nots
Showing the absolute accuracy of the measurements with a digital caliper
Keeping the entire process a thoroughly entertaining learning experience, our son had his every question answered – and sometimes was even challenged to come up with answers for questions posed to him, which he really appreciated.
The experience was made all the more real to him
with great stories, fun anecdotes, hands-on activities,
all for his own pair of tefillin that he is holding in the above picture and now wears every day!
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What an amazing way for him to go into his Bar Mitzvah and gain an AMAZING appreciation for them!
You could do the same for your child. Contact us for details.
Update 2/22/18 – CLICK HERE FOR PART 2
We will iy”H post a future article showing the second visit to the factory, to complete the batim, fit the parshiyos and more, followed by the final fitting with the retzuos and knots – each a fascinating process in itself.
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SAR – GFT
© 2018 GreatFrumTrips.com
New Jersey residents, the Rowner family of nine loves to find great appropriate places to explore.
Among their other escapades, they’ve spent 28 days with an RV camper attached to their car through nine states with no plans (!), and acquired varying degrees of insanity and two turtles to show for it.
Recently featured in Mishpacha Magazine, they enjoy their noisy household, making great adventures and sharing their takeaways and stories with thousands of readers and followers on their website, GreatFrumTrips.com, and KosherVacationCentral.com the world’s largest online Jewish travelers resources.
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