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The following is an excerpt in English translation from the beginning of a traditional Orthodox and Conservative ketubah taken from this site:

On the ______day of the week, the _________day of the month ______ in the year five thousand seven hundred and ______ since the creation of the world

The bolded phrase is what is called Anno Mundi which assigns the number of years from the creation of the world. This phrasing seems to be the most common usage in ketubot.

However, would it be legal (a valid ketubah) if someone decided to use a different system of counting? For example, instead of listing the Anno Mundi year, which is currently 5776, someone used the Machzor kattan counting. For this year it would be the 19th year of the 304th cycle (based on the 19 year Metonic cycle that is used for positioning Judaic leap years). Or what about if they used the secular date (2016)?

Note: If using the Gregorian date (or Julian, as well), the entire date would need to be changed to a transliterated form that would correspond to say, "June 7, 2016". (Transliteration is already commonly used in the ketubah when mentioning the town / city name.) You would also eliminate the "creation of the world" phrase and substitute, perhaps, (AD or CE)

  • judaism.stackexchange.com/a/29789/759 See too Aruch haShulchan EH 127:44 – Double AA Jun 7 '16 at 16:37
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    19th of 304th cycle is just saying 303*19 + 19 = 5776. That's not even a different system. – Double AA Jun 7 '16 at 17:07
  • I imagine the answer wouldn't be any different for any other kind of contract. – Daniel Jun 7 '16 at 17:19
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    @LN6595 Thanks for the edit. I wasn't sure about mentioning this. However, my sense is that using 2016 may be problematic, as the Gregorian calendar poses 2 problems - 1) It's based on Christian beliefs and 2) I assume that you would have to change the entire date as there is no such thing as 1 Sivan, 2016. (Yes, I know that ads say "Passover 2017", and I get annoyed when I see that.) – DanF Jun 7 '16 at 19:01
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    מנין שאנו מנין כאן implies that we are given the date according to the count that is normative in this location. Note that this also allows for the possibility that are count is wrong as well as the possibility of a different method. – sabbahillel Jun 7 '16 at 19:09
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The answer is probably maybe.

In reality there used to be varying methods of dating Kethuboth. When the Cairo Genizah was discovered, they found many Kethboth there of great value. They found kethuboth written in Hebrew, rather than Aramaic, and they found Kethuboth of various dating systems. The system I liked the most was "year such and such of the common year." However, it isn't known how often that terminology was used, so I can't comment on whether or not it would still be considered valid.

But there was another dating system that was commonly used and is still being used (though now starting to die out) today in certain Mizrahi communities. The dating system called "מנין שטרות" which is a date from the Seleucid Empire. This dating method is still being used by Yemenites, and it was the dating system I used for my Kethubbah.

So why did i begin my answer with "probably maybe"? Because there should be no issue using another dating system that has been used continuously for thousands of years and is still being practice by Jews. So yes, it's probable that you can use another dating system, as there is one available, and even more systems have been used in the past. However, your personal Rav may not have heard of this system, or he may object to using it as it "isn't our minhag." And then even if he says yes, and you draft the Kethubbah, there is still another issue. The witnesses (who themselves may have a different Rav) might balk at your Kethubbah being different from their idea on what it should be. And so if you are unable to find witnesses willing to sign it, your Kethubbah may be worthless. So therefore, maybe you will be successful in using an alternative system, maybe you won't. Which is why the answer is, probably maybe.

  • I usually don't like to harp on grammar, but I feel I need to do so, here ... "probably a maybe" - I'm not sure if that's a redundancy, a slight oxymoron, or an indication that you're uncertain, yourself. The link you mentioned in the 2nd paragraph infers that a different system is OK, but, I'm uncertain, myself. In short, see if you can clarify what seems to be indecisive. – DanF Jun 7 '16 at 18:55
  • @DanF My answer is of course using a different valid Jewish tradition is okay. But, your question has another component, since a Kethubbah has to be signed by witnesses, and witnesses today are often squeemish about signing something they don't consider normative. So i will try to go more into what i mean with proabably a maybe. – Aaron Jun 7 '16 at 19:02
  • @Aaron All good witnesses ever are squeamish about signing controversial things. They have to uphold their reliability. – Double AA Jun 7 '16 at 19:09
  • +1 Your edits are good! But, see @sabbahillel's latest comment on מנין שאנו מנין כאן . Does this resolve any doubts? It also, perhaps, puts into question who אנו refers to. – DanF Jun 7 '16 at 19:17
  • @DanF Why would you want to use a different system anyways? There is always a discrepency. i don't believe the world was created 577x years ago. So i wanted a different dating system. There are issues with minyan shetarot as well. Really the common year is the best approach, and if you want i can recommend the book you can find it in. If your Rav is willing to sign off on it – Aaron Jun 7 '16 at 19:24

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