Print Friendly, PDF & Email

QUESTION

I am to be a mesader kiddushin and the wedding is very soon. The bride and groom intend to use a ketubah similar to the attached picture. Is it a problem that there is an inch or so gap between text and signature, or that the signature line doesn’t go across the entire line?  Or, that in first line and last line, a branch from the illustration interrupts between two words of the text?

I am OK having them sign the backup printed ketubah, as their real ketubah, and then letting them frame the artistic one with the “real one” in the back.

 

ANSWER

This is an explicit case in Shulchan Arukh. If there is one blank line and the second line the signatures start in the middle one below the other it is kosher. However, if there are 2 blank lines (= height of 2 lines plus 3 airspaces, above, between and below – to allow for lameds and kof sofits), then it is no good. Measuring with my finger based on the picture it seems like we might be dealing with exactly the latter case. If so, it would not be kosher and you need to have then sign a kosher one. That being said, the height is measured in the witnesses handwriting so you might be ok. See Shulchan Arukh CM 45:6, 8, 9:

ו) ידקדקו העדים שלא ירחיקו מהכתב רוחב שני שיטין ואם הרחיקו שני שיטין פסול אפילו כתב שריר וקיים אפילו ידוע שלא הוסיף ולא זייף בו שום דבר ואפילו טייטוהו בדיו [פירוש מלאו אותו נקודים נקודים של דיו] פסול שלא יאמרו חתמו על הטיוטא ולא על עיקר השטר

ח) ב׳ שיטין שאמרו בכתב ידי עדים שהיא גסה ולא ידי סופר שכל המזוייף אינו הולך אצל הסופר.

ט)ב׳ שיטין אלו הן ואוירן כגון ל׳ בשיטה העליונה וב׳ בשיטה התחתונה שהם ב׳ שיטין וג׳ אוירים.

As you can see, it will also not work to fill up the space in the line prior to the witnesses signature – Shulchan Arukh CM 45:6 – ואפילו טייטוהו בדיו פסול שלא יאמרו חתמו על הטיוטא ולא על עיקר השטר

If it’s only one blank plus a half line – it’s okay based on Shulchan Arukh CM 45:10, since the signatures are underneath one another –

וכן אם מסיים בסוף שטה והרחיקו העדים שטה שלימה והתחילו העדים באמצע שטה שניה פסול אם יחתמו זה אחר זה באותה חצי שטה שיוכל לכתוב בחצי השטה החלק שלפני חתימתן פלוני לוה מפלוני מנה ויהא שטר הבא הוא ועדיו בשטה אחת שהוא כשר ויחתוך כל העליון.

The solution is to start signing one line ABOVE the current נאום. You could hand write in the that נאום. You could have three witnesses. Or just leave the final one blank.

You should not have them sign this one and then a kosher one. Besides issues of reputation and giving what looks like your stamp of approval to a non-kosher shetar, there is a serious problem of overseeing them signing on something which is essentially a blank check (someone can cut away the top and add anything in the blank line). Almost like supervising a potential edut sheker (much worse than the document being pasul for another reason).

You can always choose to just not sign this one and hang it up regardless, although it might be obvious that something is amiss.

The “branches” entering into the top line is not a problem, since it is obviously part of the decoration, and there is no concern that it is covering up anything, or the like.


FOLLOW-UP QUESTION

Wow, thank you. Wish I had caught this before. Can I solve this by having the first witness sign his name with very tall letters? Practically, do you think having eidim sign this one and the backup one works? And then I tell couple, they can hang up this one, but the “back up” is the official?

 

ANSWER

Having the first witness sign with tall letters will not work. The concern is that they could go back and fill the last line with whatever they want. It’s the natural size of their handwriting, not the size they happened to use for signing their names.

Bottom line: The only solution is to have the first witness sign a line above – where the נאום’s start, and then either leave the bottom one blank or, better, have a third witness sign alongside the bottom נאום.