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The kesuba (marriage contract) is written in a smattering of Hebrew with Aramaic thrown in. It is possible that onr or both parties may not know what all the words in the kesuba mean. Furthermore it promises vague amounts of money, which many men may not realize the current market value of. At some weddings I have seen a Rav broadly outline the meaning of the document, but usually only to the husband only.

If this is a legal document why don't we write it in the language that the parties both speak? Is the document valid if one or both parties don't really understand what is in it?

  • just a note before I consider an answer -- at my wedding, we had someone read an exact English translation. Good times...good times. – rosends Jan 9 '13 at 14:12
  • @Dan good for you. But based on my experience (only, not a scientific study) that would be the exception, not the rule. – user2110 Jan 9 '13 at 14:14
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    true -- at that time, finding an exact translation was tough. Remember, this is designed to be a legal document crafted with the technical jargon of the talmud -- translating loses the subtlety of the terms – rosends Jan 9 '13 at 14:18
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    I have a signed (and witnessed) English document in addition to the Hebrew/Aramaic one. Is that unusual? – Monica Cellio Jan 9 '13 at 15:20
  • @MonicaCellio where did you purchase such a document to begin with? or did you have it written up separately? I am unaware of a place that sells these documents in english, hence my assumption that they are rarely used. – user2110 Jan 9 '13 at 15:37
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Igros Moshe Even HaEzer 4:90 says that it is a good idea L'Chatchila to have an English translation connected to the actual Kesuba.

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    thank you for this answer but it implies the document is still valid if not done in english; how can this be so if the parties involved don't understand what is going on? – user2110 Jan 9 '13 at 14:47
  • Worth noting that his reasoning is so that the Ketubah can possibly be upheld in secular court. I don't think that's really possible though. – Double AA Jan 9 '13 at 18:18
  • @DoubleAA, that is not entirely true. See this answer – Daniel Mar 31 '13 at 7:18

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