Monday, November 26, 2012

THE KETUBA: "Her clothing" (kesutah) in Jewish Marriage Law.

As we have seen in previous weeks, the Ketuba establishes the duties of the husband toward his wife. Following a Biblical commandment (Exodus 21:10) the obligations of the husband are basically three:  

1. she-erah: to provide his wife with sustenance or maintenance (see here)

2. kesutah:  to supply her clothing and lodging

3. 'onatah:  to cohabit with her.

The second obligation, kesutah, which literally means "her clothing" states that the Jewish husband is obligated to provide his wife with appropriate clothing, bedding, furniture and a place of residence.   


Clothes: The husband has to supply his wife with appropriate clothing for each season of the year. Regarding the quality of this provision, the rule is that the husband must provide his wife with a level of clothing according to (a) what the husband can afford (b) the local custom, e.g., the social needs of a woman who lives in a farm are not the same as a woman who lives in a city (Maimonides, MT ishut 13:2). This category also includes the husband's obligation to provide his wife with luxury items (13:4) such as jewelry, cosmetics, etc. Again, at a level which results as the balance between the husband's financial possibilities and the wife's social needs ( or local custom).   

Place of residence:   The place of residence is determined by the husband. It is presumed that husband and wife agreed upon it in advance.  If the husband wishes to change his usual place of residence the wife is expected to move with him. Some exceptions are: 1. A disreputable neighborhood (13:15). The wife can refuse to move to a violent or corrupt place. 2. Israel: if the couple lives in Israel the wife can refuse to move out of Israel or if they live in Jerusalem, she can refuse to leave Jerusalem. (13:19-20).