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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The following article explores the second half of the traditional ketubah. The first part of the ketubah describes the groom's proposal of marriage and the basic funds committed to the marriage from the bride's family and the groom; click here to read an explanation of the first part of the ketubah. Reprinted from The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage by permission of Jonathan David Publishers.

The Groom, in Turn, Promised an Additional Gift

"… adding on his own, mattan [gift], another 100 silver pieces, kenegdan, making a total of 200 silver pieces."

Tosefet Ketubah: The Mattan. The additional monies, known as tosefet ketubah [addition to the ketubah] or mattan, is the addition to the mohar, called ikkar ketubah, the basic contract. This is the gift that the groom makes and that matches the dowry sum (kenegdan)--100 silver pieces. The total of dowry estimate plus tosefet ketubah comes to 200 silver pieces.

The tosefet ketubah has a parallel history to mohar, although the mohar was legal and compulsory and the tosefet ketubah social and voluntary. Both were designed to protect the woman. The latter was originally a wedding gift to the bride, and turned into a debt which was to be redeemed at the termination of marriage, by death of the husband or divorce. It had the same security advantage as did the mohar (although this was not instituted by Simeon ben Shetach).

And Secured the Promise With a Lien on His Property

"And thus said _______ , the said groom: "I take upon myself, and my heirs after me, the surety of this ketubah, of the dowry, and of the additional sum, so that all this shall be paid from the best part of my property, real and personal, that I now possess or may hereafter acquire. All my property, even the mantle on my shoulders, shall be mortgaged for the security of this ketubah and of the dowry and of the addition made thereto, during my lifetime and after my lifetime from this day forever."

The Surety of This Ketubah. Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach made the ketubah into a note of indebtedness to protect the wife. He also introduced a guarantee that it would not remain merely a promise made in the flush of love, but a contractual obligation. The ketubah therefore includes a lien on the groom's property to secure the satisfaction of the triple obligation of mohar [the cash gift the groom gives the bride], nedunya [dowry], and tosefet ketubah, or as the ketubah reads, she'tar ketubta da, nedunya den, ve'tosefta da. A lien on the debtor's property (the groom's) means that the law considers the property as a sort of mortgage. It is a shibuda de'oraita, a lien that is a biblical mandate, even more than a simple mortgage. The lien of the ketubah obligates the husband personally and it is therefore not only a mortgage on his real estate, but also on "property, the best part... real and personal... the mantle on my shoulders... now... or hereafter... during my lifetime and forever."

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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.