Directions for Filling Out Ketuba Text
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Laws for writing a Ketubah
One must make sure that at the beginning and the end (after the word “וקנינא ”) of the document the names of bride and groom are written with their fathers names as well, however in the middle of the text one writes the grooms name without mention of his father’s name. If a mistake was made in this area a new Ketuba must be written.
(נחלת שבעה סי' ג' סעי' א' - סי' י"ב סעי' ע')
If one of the parties is a Kohen/ Levi, the word ‘Kohen’ or ‘Levi’ must be added after mention of the father’s name. However in the middle of the document, where one only writes the groom’s name, one adds the word ‘Kohen’ or ‘Levi’ right after the groom’s name.
(שו"ת מהר"ם מינ"ץ סי' קט', ש"ע אה"ע סי' כקט' סעי' יט', נ"ש סי' יב' סעי' א')
For those who have the practice to also write the family name, they must make sure to write it only after the father’s name, for example; פלוני בן פלוני למשפחת פלוני .
One must make sure to write the full names of bride, groom and the fathers, as well as to include kohen/levi when applicable.
(נ"ש סי' ג' סעי' יז', וסי' יב' סעי' טז')
It is incorrect to add titles to the names, such as; Moreinu, Rabbi, Rav, etc. one writes the names only, like for example:יעקב בן צבי. Even though this is not forbidden by law, for Kabalistic reasons it is not recommended, as certain combinations of names can G’d forbid cause troubles to a person, such things have happened in the past...
One must be careful to write in straight and even writing, so that the letters should look similar to one another, they shouldn’t be written too thick, too far apart or too close together so that no one will be able to forge it later on.
The sentences must be finished off with an ink line so that there should be no room for forging. A document where forging is possible is not kosher for use.
(נ"ש סי' ג' סעי' ג', ש"ע חו"מ סי' מה', ערוה"ש חו"מ סי' מד' ס"ה)
Even though it is sometimes permissible according to the law to erase a mistake or to trace it over with a quill before the words “שריר וקיים ” are written, it is recommendable to avoid any such corrections in a Ketubah, as it says in the kabbalah that such corrections, even the smallest ones, can cause harm and damage to the family such as, lack of peace, health, children etc. And just as we make sure the meat we eat is kosher according to all the stringencies, so too we must make sure that our Ketubah is also 100% kosher.
(פחד יצחק ערך כתובה תשובה ט"ו [נדפס תקע"ג] אפרקסתא דעניא ח"א סי' פא', שיחות הגה"צ מנאסויד סעי' ס"ה)
Even those who are lenient about this issue, it is not really possible to rely on this today as most of the Ketubahs are preprinted and the final words are already written, therefore one must write a new ketubah when a mistake was made, and were a Rabbi to pass such a ketubah as kosher he is causing the couple to sin by living together without a real ketubah for the rest of their life!
(נ"ש סי' ג' סעי' יז' וסעי' כג')
The Kinyan can be done before the Chupah ceremony, but the witnesses can only sign the ketubah after the kinyan was made and the ketubah was read. It is however preferable to do the kinyan at the chupah ceremony.
(נ"ש סי' יב' ס"ק סט')
Since a Ketubah consists of a beginning section and an end section, the beginning states the kidushin and the end the kinyan, it is incorrect for the witnesses to sign before the kidushin has taken place, this would be like a false testimony. However if the Chupah is on a Friday, when one is worried that the Chupah ceremony might continue into the Shabbat and it will be forbidden for the witnesses to write, one may sign even before the ceremony takes place. And if you were wondering how come most of the world has the custom for the witnesses to sign the Ketubah before the ceremony, the answer is because years ago most Chupah ceremonies would take place on Friday, however today that this is not the case it is correct to sign only after the Chupah has taken place as the rule states.
(נ"ש סי' יב' ס"ק עב')
I must specify that in places where one has the custom to sign the Ktubah before the Chupah there are many who have the so called “stringency” to take separate witnesses for the Kidushin, and the witnesses who signed the Ketubah don’t even see the Kedushin taking place, which will render their signature as a false testimony. Therefore we must remind these “stringent” people that the stringency is to take two extra witnesses on top of the two they already have, and not instead.
(תשב"ץ ח"ב סעי' ז', שו"ת נאמן שמואל סעי' עח', עזר מקודש סי' מב')
If G’d forbid the father of the bride, groom or one of the witnesses is not alive anymore, one shouldn’t write ז''ל or ע''ה , there have been stories where this caused tragedies to the families. One must also refrain from writing titles such as שליט"א, ני"ו, הי"ו , etc.
(נ"ג סי' כא' סעי' כג')
The groom must appoint the two witnesses and tell them “you are my witnesses and no one else is”, and if he does not appoint them then they are unsuitable for testimony just as family is unsuitable to testify.
(ערה"ש סי' מב' סעי' לא', ש"ך חו"מ סי' לו' ס"ק ח', קצוה"ח סי' לו' ס"ק א', שו"ת ריב"א סי' יב')
The witnesses must ensure to write their full name and fathers name and end with the word “עד ”, for example: משה בן יעקב עד and if the word “עד ” is not mentioned the ketubah will be invalid.
(נ"ש סי' ב' סעי' יב', שו"ת שבט בנימין סי' קפז', שו"ת בית אבי ח"ב סי' קנב')
If the signature of the witnesses is written further then two lines from the writing on the Kesuba the ketuba is invalid.
(נ"ש סי' ב' סעי' א')
One should try not to write any abbreviations in the Ketubah
(ערוה"ש חו"מ סי' מב' סעי'ד')
In some ready printed Ketubahs there is a space left open for the groom to fill in the total amount of money he is promising, one must make sure to specify מאתן ומאתים זקוקים כסף or at least מאתיים זקוקים כסף and then one can add the amount of money agreed between them.
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