Was at a Conservative friend's house the other day, and noticed the Ketubah from their wedding on their wall. I went to look at it and saw 4 witnesses had signed it: 2 men & 2 women.

If an Orthodox person was asked by a Conservative/ Reform friend to be a witness for such a Ketubah (or a Ketubah that deviates from accepted halachik practice), would they be allowed to?

  • 3
    I was asked to do this once, and my rabbi suggested that I not do so. On the other hand, I was also asked another time to be a witness for a wedding that was ostensibly Orthodox, though the bride and groom certainly did not observe at that level (i.e. they were living together before the wedding), and I was advised that I could do so and that it was even a good idea for me to maintain my relationship with the couple so they'd be friends with someone who was practicing at a higher level.
    – Daniel
    Apr 17, 2019 at 15:08
  • Is it any worse than signing a secular contract between the two?
    – Al Berko
    Apr 17, 2019 at 15:49
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    @AlBerko right but re: מראית עין, the person is at the wedding anyways. Perhaps it could be a problem of "validating" this non-halachik practice?
    – alicht
    Apr 17, 2019 at 15:53
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/102006/…
    – Al Berko
    Apr 17, 2019 at 16:10

2 Answers 2


הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך, rebuking a person who is doing a sin.

[Vayikra 19:17] "You shall surely rebuke your fellow, but you shall not bear a sin on his account."

[See Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvos, Assei, 205) "The 205th mitzvah is that we are commanded to admonish a person who is performing a transgression or who is preparing to do so. One must verbally warn him and admonish him..."]

In this case, by being an active participant in a Conservative/Reform ceremony, by serving as a witness on their Ketubah, is the not only the antithesis of rebuke, but also sends the message that we tacitly condone their deviation(s) from accepted Halachic practice.

[Note: This answer draws inspiration from the Sefer Chafetz Chaim (Essin, 5, Be'er Mayim Chaim) who formulates a similar ruling regarding someone who neglects to admonish a person who is beginning to speak Lashon Hara or Rechilus, and is an ample precedent for this Halachic approach].

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    This is a good example of why not to Paskin out of a Sefer HaMitzvot or a pasuk. But if we are ruling out of peskuim may as well Paskin like אַל תּוֹכַח לֵץ פֶּן יִשְׂנָאֶךָּ הוֹכַח לְחָכָם וְיֶאֱהָבֶךָּ
    – Double AA
    May 10, 2020 at 23:19

This is a draft answer outlining the major considerations:

  1. "מראית עין" - there's a problem of being perceived in public as "turning sides". Especially valid if the Ketubah mentions explicitly it follows a different tradition, Reform for example.

  2. Signing on what one sees is not a problem. Even a Reform Ketubah (as a simple, non-religious contract) isn't worse than any secular contract, so if one can sign a secular contract, one can surely sign on this ... paper.

  3. A Ketubah that doesn't mention the Groom's debt to his bride is not a Ketubah. Therefore by signing such one is transgressing לפני עוור - misleading the couple into believing they have a Ketubah while they don't and it is Rabbinically prohibited to cohabit without one.

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    In my experience a Reform or Conservative Ketubah will not mention the fact that it is such; it's the contract clauses that would typically tip you off to the 'denomination' the sofer and couple belong to Apr 17, 2019 at 23:26

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