Halacha for Monday 18 Sivan 5777 June 12 2017

Some Details Regarding the Ketubah-Continued

Question: In the previous Halacha, you have mentioned that a woman is not “owned” by her husband; however, this seems to be incorrect, for there are many times that the Sages use the term “acquisition” with regards to the wife relative to the husband? Additionally, in the previous Halacha, you have mentioned that a man must fill out a Ketubah for his wife before marrying her. What happens if later on in life the Ketubah is lost; must a replacement Ketubah be written?

Answer: Regarding the first question, although we do find that our Sages used the word “acquisition” to describe what the husband does to the wife, such as, in the beginning of Masechet Kiddushin where the Mishnah states, “A woman is acquired in three ways, with money, a bill etc.” and later on in that same Mishnah, “And she acquires herself in two ways”, among many other instances, nevertheless, this “acquisition” does not refer to the usual definition of the word, for a husband cannot do whatever he wishes to his wife and therefore, he cannot sell her as he would a slave or other property. Rather, the “acquisition” mentioned in these contexts refers to a marital bond, i.e. as a result of the husband’s act of giving an object with a monetary value of at least a Perutah (or a ring, as is customary today) or by means of any other method of acquisition mentioned thereof, the woman leaves her prior marital status of being “single” and now enters a new marital status entitled “a married woman”. Thus, the only practical application of this “acquisition” is with regards to the woman’s newfound marital status whereby she becomes forbidden to the rest of the world and permitted only to her husband.

Although this acquisition affects other issues which revolve around monetary matters as well, such as with regards to the husband’s ownership of any lost object found by his wife, nevertheless, there is no connection between these monetary acquisitions and the acquisition of the wife, for the husband likewise takes upon himself many obligations he must perform for the wife at the time of marriage and it would certainly make no sense to say that as a result of these responsibilities, the husband is “acquired” by the wife. Rather, these are merely obligations that must be fulfilled.

Regarding the second question, if the Ketubah is lost, the husband must write a replacement Ketubah for his wife. Since a husband may not live with his wife without a valid Ketubah, the husband must make sure to consult a Torah scholar proficient in the laws of Ketubot as soon as possible so that the latter may draft the appropriate language relative to the situation and have it filled out and signed post-haste.

This is especially common with regards to those couples who were once further from Torah observance and have since adopted a more Torah-observant lifestyle in that many times, the Ketubah filled out on their wedding day had since been lost. Such couples must make their way to a qualified halachic authority so that he may ask the couple the appropriate questions and if need be, fill out a new Ketubah for the couple, as we have explained.

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