Ketubot 11 - How much a husband owes to his wife

The marriage contract, called Ketubah, obligates the husband to pay his wife 200 zuz upon their divorce or his death. How much is that? The calculation is based on the silver contents of a zuz, subject to the discussion of whether by zuz we mean a pure silver coin or one mixed with seven parts of copper. Because of the decline in the price of silver, this amount is estimated today at 100 pounds of silver, or about $25,000. This is roughly the amount one can live on for a year.

However, this amount applies only to a virgin who has never been married. If a woman has been engaged and not married, but then divorced or widowed, her Ketubah is still 200 zuz, and here too the husband can raise a "claim of virginity": if she is found not to be a virgin, his marriage is considered an acquisition made by mistake, and she looses all or some of the amount.

A woman who has been married - her ketubah is 100 zuz. In addition to this amount, the husband may, and often did, promise a much larger sum. This is called "additional amount of the Ketubah."

Art: Head of a Dead Young Man by Theodore Gericault