- Question: [Wednesday, 16th Shevat 5783]
We were married off during Covid by a local pulpit Rabbi in our area who was the Misader Kiddushin. The two witnesses for the Kiddushin were two individuals who are brother in laws of each other [married to wife’s sister. i.e. both are married to two sisters]. We kind of had no choice because we were only allowed to have a very small wedding due to the covid regulations, and everyone else present was a relative of some sort. At the time, we were not aware that this is an issue, and I don’t think the Rabbi was aware of their relation. Now, we were recently told that this could be a major problem as they are invalid witnesses. What should we do?
The Kiddushin is invalid, due to the invalid witnesses, and hence you need to redo the Kiddushin without a blessing. If they were also the witnesses by the Kesuba, then the Kesuba must be redone. I recommend you consult with a veteran Rav, who is also a Misader Kiddushin, for the details of the process.
Explanation: Kiddushin requires two Halachically valid witnesses, and brother in laws are considered invalid witnesses with each other being that one who is invalid to a relative is also invalid to the spouse of that relative, if they are same level. Meaning, just as one is an invalid witness for his wife, so too for his wife’s sister, and just like one is invalid for his wife’s sister, so too he is invalid for her husband. Thus, two men who are married to sisters are invalid to testify against or on behalf of each other, or to testify together on a matter that requires two witnesses. Now, there is discussion in the Poskim as to whether this disqualification of brother in laws is Biblical or Rabbinical, and if one must initially suspect for Kiddushin or not [Rav Akiva Eiger is stringent], and likewise there is a discussion in Poskim as to whether one may rely on other people who were there. Whatever the case, the couple must certainly redo the Kiddushin, although without a blessing.
Sources: See regarding the need for Kosher witnesses by Kiddushin: Michaber and Rama Y.D. 42:2; See regarding an invalidation of relatives in being witnesses for Kiddushin whether they are related to Chasan, Kallah, or each other: Beir Heiytiv 42:14 in name of Tomas Yesharim 83 that is Biblically invalid; See regarding the list of invalid witnesses, which include brother in laws: Michaber Choshen Mishpat 33:4 “However, Rishon Berishon, such as….and such as the husbands of two sisters, they are invalid for each other, as we say by them Trei Baal Keishto; See regarding our exact case if two brother in laws were witnesses by the Kiddushin: Shut Rav Akiva Eiger Kama E.H. 1:94 in great length; See regarding if other people who are present can serve as witnesses, despite them not being the designated witnesses: Michaber E.H. 42:4 [may serve even if not designated]; Rama E.H. 42:4 [Even if designated witnesses, others who saw may testify]; Beir Heiytiv 42:14 in name of Mahariy Viyal 6 [if designated witnesses were Pasul, cant complete the testimony with the others present]; Beir Heiytiv 42:14 in name of Mahariy Ben Leiv 1:17-101 [requires Get even in such a case]; See regarding if need to redo the brachos of Eirusin and Nessuin and Sheva Brachos: Beir Heiytiv 42:14 in name of Mahariy Viyal 6 that no need to redo blessings of Eirusin or Nessuin or re-write the Kesuba, if had invalid witnesses;
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