The Ketubah Text (Part 2)

The second part of the ketubah (marriage contract) details the additional gift promised by the groom, the lien on his property, and the acquisition sealing the contract.

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In the ketubah, the summary is "for all that which is stated and explained above, by an instrument legally fit to establish a transaction." The formula follows, "and everything is valid and established." And the witnesses sign immediately thereafter on the next line beneath the formula.

And the Witnesses Attested to It

"Witness _______

Witness _______"

The Witnesses. The witnesses must follow these guidelines, although today the preprinted ketubot usually prevent error. [Traditionally, witnesses must be male, though women serve as witnesses in many non-Orthodox communities today.]

1. The witness must write his first name, son of his father's first name, whether he is a kohen [of priestly descent] or Levi, preferably also the family name, and follow it with the word ed (witness).

2. It must be in his own handwriting, not that of the scribe.

3. It must be signed as close to the text as possible, so that no words can easily be inserted.

4. The signature should not begin in the middle of the line.

5. Ideally, the two witnesses should sign one name under the other, as they would on a get (bill of divorce).

6. They should not sign before it is fully completed, including, if it is calligraphed, the omitted letter in ve'kanina.

7. They should have read the document, or have had it read to them.

8. They should have witnessed both the kinyan and each other's signing, as on a get.

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Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Maurice Lamm is the author of many books, including The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning. He is the president of the National Institute for Jewish Hospice, and Professor at Yeshiva University's Rabbinical Seminary in New York, where he holds the chair in Professional Rabbinics. For years he served as rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation, Beverly Hills, CA.