Ketubah on Leather Parchment

Ketubah Info


Under the Chuppah, The Rabbi or person conducting the wedding ceremony puts before the bride and groom a “marriage deed”, the Ketubah.
Literally, the word Ketubah means “that which written”, an abbreviation of the expression “written commitment”.

The Ketubah, which is inaccurately translated as a marriage contract is, in fact a divorce insurance. It guaranties that in the event of an official separation the husband will give the wife enough money to live on for several years, for however much time it takes her to find a stable situation. It is a standard legal document which is signed by the future husband in the presence of two witnesses before the wedding and given to the young wife during the ceremony.

Written in Aramaic, this document enumerates the husband’s obligations, especially financial, to his wife on a daily basis and in the case of a divorce. The Oldest existing Ketubah, found in the south of Egypt goes back to the fifth century B.C.E.

For tow essential reasons, it inspired the art of calligraphy, illustration, and manuscript illumination.
The Ketubah is not subject to any restrictions concerning its binding, nor its size, shape or lettering.
It is associated with marriage, which is by definition, a joyous occasion. Therefore, all patterns, colors, techniques, and innovations are permitted.

The problem of the Ketubah occupies a privileged place in Talmudic law. An entire treatise entitled Ketubot details all the legal formulations in the writing of the Ketubah. So many points of law are discussed concerning this matter that the ketubot treatise has been called Shas Katan: the miniature Talmud.


More information

After the groom places the ring on the bride’s finger, the ketubah is read aloud. The ketubah is a binding document which details the husband’s obligations to his wife, showing that marriage is more than a physical-spiritual union; it is a legal and moral commitment. The ketubah states the principal obligations of the groom to provide his wife with food, clothing and affection along with other contractual obligations.

Reading the ketubah has no halachic significance, it merely serves as a separation between the two phases of marriage — kiddushin and nisu’in.

The ketubah states the principal obligations of the groom towards his wifeThe honor of reading the ketubah is normally reserved for a Torah scholar — one who can fluently read the Aramaic text.

After the ketubah is read, it is handed to the groom who gives it to the bride. The ketubah is then put in a safe place for the duration of the wedding.

The ketubah is the wedding contract which states the husband’s various obligations to his wife. The focal point of the document is the financial compensation due to the wife in the event of the marriage’s dissolution through divorce or widowhood. Theketubah even includes provisions which place liens on the husband’s different assets. The document is signed by kosher witnesses, but not necessarily the same witnesses who observe the betrothal beneath the chupah.

According to most halachic authorities, the ketubah is a rabbinic ordinance. The sages were troubled by the relative ease whereby a man could divorce his wife. They therefore instituted that no man may be married to a woman unless he obligates himself to pay a substantial imbursement in the event that he divorces her.

The sages were troubled by the relative ease whereby a man could divorce his wifeWhen a Jewish man marries a Jewish woman he automatically obligates himself to his wife in ten areas; some are Torah mandated and others by rabbinic decree. A number of these obligations are mentioned specifically in the ketubah and others are implied:

He must 1) feed his wife; 2) clothe her; and 3) provide her conjugal needs. His estate is obligated to 4) pay her a lump sum in the event that he divorces her or dies before she does. He must 5) pay her medical bills if she falls ill; and 6) ransom her if she is taken hostage. If the wife passes away before the husband, he must 7) pay her burial expenses, and 8) after he dies, her children inherit their mother’s ketubah money before the rest of the estate is divided amongst all the heirs. In the event that the husband dies before the wife, 9) she is entitled to live in his home and live off his estate until she dies or remarries, and 10) her daughters, too, are supported by his estate until they marry.

Today, the standard ketubah is a printed form which has blanks for the date and the names of the bride, groom, and witnesses. Before the wedding, the officiating rabbi fills in these blanks and supervises the signing of the document by the witnesses. Also available today are customized ketubahs which are genuine works of art.

It is forbidden for a couple to live together, even temporarily, without a ketubah. In the event that the document is lost or destroyed, or if a serious error is found in its text, the couple must immediately obtain a replacement ketubah from a rabbi. This rule applies for the duration of the marriage. Hence it is wise to store the ketubah in a safe location.

Kabbalistic Meaning:

The ketubah document is reminiscent of the wedding between G‑d and Israelwhen Moses took the Torah, the “Book of the Covenant,” and read it to the Jews prior to the “chupah ceremony” at Mount Sinai. In the Torah, G‑d, the groom, undertakes to provide for all the physical and spiritual needs of His beloved bride. It is this precious “marriage contract” which has assured our survival through millennia which saw the disappearance of so many mighty nations and superpowers.



The following is the basic ketubah text. Minor — but vital –changes are made in the contract depending on various factors — chiefly among them the bride’s previous marital history.


… בשבת … לחדש … שנת חמשת אלפים ושבע מאות … לבריאת עולם למנין שאנו מנין כאן … איך … בן … אמר לה להדא … בת … הוי לי לאנתו כדת משה וישראל ואנא אפלח ואוקיר ואיזון ואפרנס יתיכי ליכי כהלכות גוברין יהודאין דפלחין ומוקרין וזנין ומפרנסין לנשיהון בקושטא ויהיבנא ליכי … כסף זוזי … דחזי ליכי … ומזוניכי וכסותיכי וסיפוקיכי ומיעל לותיכי כאורח כל ארעא וצביאת מרת … דא והות ליה לאנתו ודן נדוניא דהנעלת ליה מבי … בין בכסף בין בזהב בין בתכשיטין במאני דלבושא בשמושי דירה ובשמושא דערסא הכל קבל עליו … חתן דנן ב… זקוקים כסף צרוף וצבי … חתן דנן והוסיף לה מן דיליה עוד … זקוקים כסף צרוף אחרים כנגדן סך הכל … זקוקים כסף צרוף וכך אמר … חתן דנן אחריות שטר כתובתא דא נדוניא דן ותוספתא דא קבלית עלי ועל ירתי בתראי להתפרע מכל שפר ארג נכסין וקנינין דאית לי תחות כל שמיא דקנאי ודעתיד אנא למקני נכסין דאית להון אחריות ודלית להון אחריות כלהון יהון אחראין וערבאין לפרוע מנהון שטר כתובתא דא נדוניא דן ותוספתא דא מנאי ואפילו מן גלימא דעל כתפאי בחיי ובתר חיי מן יומא דנן ולעלם ואחריות וחומר שטר כתובתא דא נדוניא דן ותוספתא דא קבל עליו … חתן דנן כחומר כל שטרי כתובות ותוספתות דנהגין בבנת ישראל העשויין כתיקון חכמינו ז”ל דלא כאסמכתא ודלא כטופסי דשטרי וקנינא מן … בן … חתן דנן למרת … בת … דא על כל מה דכתוב ומפורש לעיל במנא דכשר למקניא ביה הכל שריר וקים

נאום …

נאום …

English Text:

On the […] day of the week, the […] day of the [Hebrew] month of […], the year […] after the creation of the world, according to the manner in which we count [dates] here in […], the bridegroom […] son of […] said to this […] daughter of […], “Be my wife according to the law of Moses and Israel. I will work honor, feed and support you in the custom of Jewish men, who work, honor, feed, and support their wives faithfully. I will give you the settlement of […] silver zuzim, which is due you according to […] law, as well as your food, clothing, necessities of life, and conjugal needs, according to the universal custom.”

Ms. […] agreed, and became his wife. This dowry that she brought from her father’s house, whether in silver, gold, jewelry, clothing, home furnishings, or bedding, Mr. […], our bridegroom, accepts as being worth […] silver pieces (zekukim).

Our bridegroom, Mr. […] agreed, and of his own accord, added an additional […] silver pieces (zekukim) paralleling the above. The entire amount is then […] silver pieces (zekukim).

Mr. […] our bridegroom made this declaration: “The obligation of this marriage contract (ketubah), this dowry, and this additional amount, I accept upon myself and upon my heirs after me. It can be paid from the entire best part of the property and possessions that I own under all the heavens, whether I own [this property] already, or will own it in the future. [It includes] both mortgageable property and non-mortgageable property. All of it shall be mortgaged and bound as security to pay this marriage contract, this dowry, and this additional amount. [it can be taken] from me, even from the shirt on my back, during my lifetime, and after my lifetime, from this day and forever.”

The obligation of this marriage contract, this dowry, and this additional amount was accepted by Mr. […] our bridegroom, to Ms. […] daughter of […], regarding everything written and stated above, with an article that is fit for such a kinyan. And everything is valid and confirmed.

[…] son of […] Witness

[…] son of […] Witness

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