The Jewish Halacha does not require the witnesses to familiarize themselves with the couple prior to Kiddushin:

  • they are not required to know the couple in person before the wedding or have any relations with them

  • they are not required to know their names or check their IDs (keep in mind that the Ketubah (bearing the names) is NOT required for the wedding)

  • same for personal or family background (whether they are Arayos to each other, for example, or if they are Jewish at all)

  • neither they are required to [be able to] distinguish them from their twin siblings

  • they are not required to even see their faces, they can see them both from behind, they only need to see the transfer and hear the words!

All those conditions render the witnessing pretty much useless, as you don't even know who you witnessed, so you can never be called to testify.

If I'm wrong - please prove me wrong, if not - what's the logic of having such witnesses that have no idea who's getting married, what did the Torah want not specifying additional obligating conditions for witnesses?

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    They can recognize their faces and so would subsequently be able to testify as to the married status of the individuals involved.
    – Joel K
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 13:45
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    I thought that the witnesses serve to witness an act between two people, whoever those people happen to be. If I see two people (any two) and one gives another something of value and says words, I have "witnessed" the marriage even if I don't know the people involved (at least that's how I understood the eidut here).
    – rosends
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 14:00
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    @rosends AlBerko This gets in to the classical lomdishe question of how to define eidei kiyyum and what their purpose is
    – Joel K
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 14:15
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    @AlBerko That is by no means obvious sefaria.org/…
    – Joel K
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 14:25
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    @Rosends He is comparing and contrasting the case where they don't see the woman's face, to a different case where they heard the man announce his intention to perform kiddushin, but didn't see the transfer of the object (in that case an etrog).
    – Joel K
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


Even granting all your assumptions that the witnesses may have no way of identifying the woman at all, Pitchei Teshuvah to Even HaEzer 31:5 points out that they would be able to testify as to her status as a married woman, if another man were to sleep with her in front of them there and then:

ולענ"ד בפשיטות דהכא חשיב ידיעה וראיה כיון דמהני עדותן אם יראו שבעל איש אחר את האשה בפניהם כו' כמו שאם יראו עדים לאחד שהיו פניו מכוסה רצח לחבירו וכי לא היו יכולין להעיד שאיש הלזה הרג לחבירו אף שאם היה מתרחק מהם לא הי' מכירין אותו ולא היו יכולין להעיד מ"מ בודאי מהני עדותן וחשיב שפירש ידיעה וראיה:‏

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    Notably, the witnesses could die 2 minutes later with no consequence to the marriage, so it can't be we need effective witnesses beyond that moment.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 14:38
  • 1. I don't see any logic here, he just states מהני עדותן, but not why. How if they did not see her face, neither heard her voice? What does "ועוד כיון שלא זזו ידם עד שבדקוה וראוה בודאי הרי הוא כידיע'" means.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 19:30
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    I think, you forgot to add לע"ד which means approximately "it appears to me that" which is a very important distinction here. That's why I think this downrates the answer, but not you! Your ability to find answers is truly amazing.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 19:48
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    @AlBerko I’m not sure I follow your point about ולפע״ד. Care to expand?
    – Joel K
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 20:29
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    @AlBerko or maybe the question isn't as deep and serious as you thought. maybe if no one else is grasping the magnitude, there isn't a magnitude to grasp
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 23:48

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