Highlights of Orthodox Text
Perspective by Rivka
• The Date
• Be My Wife” – “Havei Lee L’Eento”
• “In accordance with the custom of Jewish husbands who
faithfully do work…”
• Monetary Arrangements
Accurate names are important because the ketubah is a legal document. Yiddish names should be spelled out in Yiddish, not transliterated into Hebrew. Research the spelling of a Hebrew or Yiddish name before the ceremony to keep the signing running smoothly.
Much attention is paid to the accuracy of the date written on the ketubah. All references to settlement amounts and interest accrue from the date listed on the ketubah. Money toward the ketubah settlement can be collected from any property sold after the marriage date.
Romance and “love is forever” are themes of a general marriage. Jewish marriages match the sentiments of the heart with real commitment; a legal framework that constructs the responsibilities spouses have to each other.
“Be My Wife” – “Havei Lee L’Eento”
Here is the heart of the Jewish marriage. “Be my wife in accord with the laws of Moses and Israel” is an ancient legal formula that is the foundation for all Jewish marital law and custom. In addition, the phrase puts observance of Torah law as a prerequisite for collecting the
When a man pledges to “do work” for his wife, he is making a commitment to go to work and earn money in order to to put food on the table. Work also includes a promise to do the sort of work around the house that men customarily do. (An ever-expanding role in double income households.)
How does a husband honor his wife? Men, who honor their wives as much as they treasure their own bodies, bring blessing to their home. All the husband’s other obligations cited in the ketubah are to be fulfilled in a way that honors his wife.
Food is given its own category, while “support” includes funding clothing and household needs.
Actually, the ketubah’s mention of these pledges is superfluous. Torah law already binds Jewish husbands to these responsibilities. “Her food, her clothing, and her conjugal rights he shall not diminish.” (Exodus 21:10) Official language in the ketubah comes to stress the husband’s obligation to provide in these ways.
“In accordance with the custom of Jewish husbands who faithfully do work…”
Faithfully or “b’emet” is chosen to describe how Jewish husbands relate to their wives because faith and trust are the foundations of a Jewish marriage.
Three separate amounts are specified in the ketubah. First is the mohar, bride’s settlement, of 200 zuzim (about $300 U.S. dollars if silver is worth $8.00 an ounce) should the marriage end in divorce or widowhood. Second is the nedan, dowry, which is the worth of whatever a bride brings to a marriage: household goods, furniture, clothing, and other valuables. Nedan is set at 100 zukukim of silver; about $4,000 if silver is selling at $8.00 an ounce. Finally, the groom’s valuables, named the toseftah, are mentioned and valued at 100 zekukim of silver, or approximately $4,000 U.S.