As we have explained in previous weeks, the Ketuba is the document which establishes the compensation that the wife would eventually collect in case of divorce or death of the husband.
After the final amount of the compensation is calculated the Ketuba mentions a long list of clauses indicating that all properties (real estate, qarqa') and possessions (portable goods ormetaltelim) are mortgaged to this Ketuba. The groom pledges to pay for the Ketuba even "from the shirt on my shoulders". The groom also pledges that the the Keuba is binding on his heirs (who might not necessarily be the children of his wife), during his lifetime and after it.
One of the elements that assures that this Ketuba is a legal document is a procedure of acquisition called qinyan. This qinyanis performed as a barter (qinyan sudar or ḥalifin), i.e.,a system of exchange by which goods or services are exchanged for other goods or services. The Rabbi who presides the wedding gives to the groom an item, normally a handkerchief --sudar-- or a pen or any item except food or coinage. The groom declares: "qibbalti 'alay beqinyan", which means, "I formally accept upon myself... all the obligations of the Ketuba" . By lifting that item, the groom acquires that item and in exchange submits the Ketuba to his wife.
After the qinyan is done, the Ketuba --which as we have explained is written from the point of view of the witnesses-- says: "And we have acquired (i.e., witnessed the procedure of acquisition ) from the groom.... to the bride... and we attest that all is valid and confirmed (sharir veqayam)". These last words are rabbinical formula to indicate that the document has ended, so that nothing else can be added to it except the signature of the two witnesses.
READ "Destined for Divorce?" It's in our power to transform our marriage. by Emuna Braverman, from Aish