Both of my parents were deaf, but they both spoke. I recently located their ketubah and noticed that the language in the text has some variations. For example, instead of the term “V’amar” it says, “U’remiza” – “signed”. I also noticed that there are 3 signatures vs. 2. I researched Ramba”m on the halachot of ketubah for chershim and understood that the 3 signatures are from the 3 Bet Din “judges” who act as witnesses.

My parents married in the early 1950’s. I’m curious why such a stipulation / special ketubah was needed. Since they spoke, halachically, they were not considered “chersshim”.

Answer:

This is a very interesting question that was raised recently in the context of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Traditionally, a special Kesuba document was used for deaf people, even if they spoke a little. This is based on the rulings of Poskim from previous generations, who actually disputed the status of deaf people who were taught to speak a little (but not fluently) – see Shut Divrei Chaim, Even HaEzer 2:72; Maharam Shick Even HaEzer 79. If a deaf person speaks fluently, then he is not considered “deaf” in halachah.

However, with the great improvement in education for deaf people and their ability to communicate, the need for a special Kesuba document and wedding ceremony (the question is whether the Berachos are recited) has repeatedly come into question, and the Rabbinate has recently issued new directives whereby a regular ceremony and Kesuba can be used, even for deaf people who are unable to speak, provided that it is clear that there possess full faculties of intellect.

Please see this teshuva of Rav Asher Weiss, which was instrumental in the matter, and see also this post of Rabbi Benny Lau, who started the ball rolling.

Best wishes.

 

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