Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim| 5763
Kiddushin - Discovery of an Invalid Witness – II
We saw last week that according to several important authorities, even if one of the appointed witnesses was invalid, members of the "audience" can be viewed as witnesses to validate the marriage. Let us examine distinctions on this matter.
In order to "cover ourselves" from the possibility that relatives or non-kosher witnesses will be included in the group of witnesses and invalidate everyone [see last week's article], we appoint two men as official witnesses. Does it make a difference how this is done? The Chatam Sofer (Shut, Even Haezer 100) says that if the mesader kiddushin appoints the witnesses, then other people are not excluded from being witnesses. If, however, the chatan appoints them, then he is, in effect, excluding everyone else from serving as a witness of his marriage. Thus, if a problem arises with one of the witnesses, the audience would not help, according to this opinion. It would seem that if the chatan states his choices as witnesses, then even if someone else announces them to those assembled, they are deemed the appointees of the chatan.
An apparently new custom has arisen to be "machmir" to exclude non-kosher witnesses by pronouncing that the appointed witnesses are "to the exclusion of all others." While it is questionable if this statement has any effect, it potentially causes more problems regarding the situation where a witness is invalid than it solves in the standard case (as there is a consensus of Rishonim that it is sufficient, if not superfluous, to simply appoint the witnesses).
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