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Ketubot
The site presented here includes over 4200 ketubot from collections all over the world, including the National Library's collection. This vast and rich collection of ketubot onto one site allows for a wide, comprehensive and in depth look at the ketubah as a Jewish document, a Jewish creation and a vital historical source.  

 

 2500 Years of Ketubot

The purpose of the Jewish ketubah is to outline the rights and responsibilities of the groom, in relation to the bride. The ketubah contains three parts: on the part of the groom, which is the primary objective of the ketubah the amount of money he is obligated to pay, as well as the addition to the ketubah, should he choose to add to the base amount. On the wife's part, the dowry is detailed. In addition, the dowry also includes the terms of the ketubah, which were meant to ensure the rights of the woman during the marriage and in the case that the marriage is nullified.
 
Ketubot have not changed much over the centuries. The marriage documents found in Aramaic papyruses from the days of Artaxerxes the King of Persia from the 5th century B.C.E., are very similar to ketubah documents from other eras and even to modern day ketubot.

 

The text in the body of the ketubah, the primary legal content, which is written in Aramaic even today  although sometimes translated into Hebrew or English  shows its incredible consistency throughout 2500 years.

Naturally, despite the ancient fixed text, local customs in various communities developed: In North Africa and Yemen husbands were obligated not to force their wives to move from city to city. Occasionally, the woman would be obligated to care for the husband's children from a previous marriage as if they were her children. In Syria and Eretz Yisrael appears the condition forbidding the husband from going on long journeys without first leaving his wife with a conditional divorce in order to protect her from a situation wherein she could become a "chained wife".

 

In addition to these local customs, there are a number of widespread conditions found in many ketubot dealing with inheritance arrangements in cases where the couple doesn't have children, arranging a situation wherein the husband wants to take another wife, (in places where that custom was common), as well as paragraphs relating to levirate marriage.

 

 
 

 ‭(Hidden)‬ The Ketubah Collection at the National Library

​The National Library's collection of ketubot includes almost 1800 original ketubot, from all over the Jewish world, both in manuscript and print form. The earliest ketubah in the collection is from 1023 c.e.- a document from the Cairo Genizah. The National Library collection also contains 226 illustrated ketubot from Italy and even a fragment from a Spanish ketubah, written just a few years before the Expulsion.

 

The site presented here includes over 4200 ketubot from a number of collections, including the National Library's collection. The concentration of the ketubot onto one site allows those with an interest in ketubot as well as scholars to gain a wide, comprehensive and in depth look at the ketubah as a Jewish document, a Jewish creation and a vital historical source.