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Incorrect names in Ketuba


Rabbi David Sperling

Tevet 19, 5774
My parents were married in the 1930’s. They are both deceased, as are the Mesader Kidushin, the Eidim, and all attendees. Looking at their Ketuba recently, I saw that there were errors in both of my parents’ names. Without revealing the actual names, these are the types of errors: Instead of the correct name, Yehonasan, the name Yonasan appears. Instead of the correct name, Devoiri, the name Devorah appears. (I want to emphasize that “Devoiri” was the name given to her at birth, and she was never called Devorah). My question is: Do these errors have negative implications for myself, my sibling, or our descendants? Thank you!
Shalom, Thank you for your interesting question. You are correct in thinking that the writing of a ketubah must be done with great care to ensure that all the details are correct. A ketubah is a legal document which obligates the husband. Like any legal document, if the details are incorrect, there may be doubts as to how binding the contract is. For this reason, the Talmud states that only those who are well versed in the laws of marriage should perform a wedding service. Therefore if someone were to discover that there are mistakes in their ketubah, they should immediately approach a learned rabbi to determine the nature of the problem. In order to protect Jewish women, the rabbis ruled that one may not live with their wife unless she is in possession of a kosher ketubah – so if there are problems with the document it may not only be a question of whether the obligations written in the ketubah are binding, but it may also create a situation where the couple should not live together until the husband (re)obligates himself by giving a new ketubah to his wife. Nonetheless, the couple is certainly married. In your case, it may well have been that the ketubah was problematic; however this question is purely academic at this time, as your parents have passed away. Even if they should have written a new ketubah, they were still married and all their children are perfectly "kosher" offspring (assuming that the wedding itself was a kosher one). It could be that your question is hinting at a practice some people have of reading mystical power into the ketubah. These people say that the wording of the ketubah has some mystical power that affects the couple for good or bad. While I freely admit that I have no expertise in the mystical world of the kabala, I did learn from my rabbis that one should distance themselves from such ideas. A Jew should walk "purely" with Hashem, and not try to read all types of mystical signs and portents into their life. The ketubah is a legal document that should be viewed as such, and nothing more. Blessings.
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