QUESTION: The Mishnah states that a person may add additional money to the Kesuvah of his wife, even if the additional amount is many times more than the base value of the Kesuvah. The Gemara asks why the Mishnah has to tell us this. After all, why should a man not be permitted to give a gift to his wife? The Gemara answers that we might have thought that the Rabanan put an upper limit to the amount one may write in the Kesuvah "in order not to embarrass he who does not have [money]."
Why would we have thought that the Rabanan prohibited adding to a Kesuvah for that reason? The extra amount, the Tosefes, that the husband adds to the Kesuvah is a gift that he gives to his wife. The Rabanan never put an upper limit to other gifts, such as the gift that a man gives to his son-in-law as a Nedunya, or a gift that a person gives as Tzedakah to a poor person, out of concern that it will embarrass others who cannot give as much. Why, then, should we think that the Rabanan prohibited giving a large gift to one's wife in the Kesuvah because others might be embarrassed? (RISHONIM)
(a) The RAMBAN and RITVA in the name of the GE'ONIM explain that the Gemara is not explaining why we might have thought that it is prohibited to write a Tosefes into the Kesuvah apart from the 100 or 200 Zuz of the Kesuvah. Rather, the Gemara is explaining why we might have thought that it is prohibited to include the Tosefes and the base amount of the Kesuvah in one large sum without distinguishing between the two parts. We might have thought that this is prohibited not because other husbands will be embarrassed because they cannot give so much, but because other wives will be embarrassed if the sum of their Kesuvah is less than that of their neighbor's. The smaller sum in the Kesuvah might make a woman feel less special, just like an Almanah receives a smaller Kesuvah because her marriage is indeed less special than that of a Besulah. The Mishnah teaches that we are not concerned for that, and it is indeed permitted to include the Kesuvah and the Tosefes together in one large sum.
According to this explanation, however, why does the Gemara say that we might have thought that it is prohibited to add an extra amount to the Kesuvah "in order not to embarrass he who does not have (Mi she'Ein Lo)?" It should have said, "... in order not to embarrass she who does not have (Mi she'Ein Lah)!" The RAMBAN answers that the Gemara is referring to the father of the Kalah, and it means that we do not want to embarrass the father who could not afford to write a large Nedunya to his son-in-law, and therefore he and his daughter were left in return with a minimal Tosefes from the son-in-law.
(b) The MORDECHAI (Kesuvos 12b, #136) disagrees with this, based on Halachic grounds. He points out that the Mishnah (12a) tells us that the Chachamim permitted a Kohenes (a daughter of a Kohen) to take a larger Kesuvah than that of Bas Yisrael. The Gemara adds that the same is true for families known to be of pure lineage. This implies that only such families are permitted to add to the amount in the Kesuvah, but not anyone else. How is that Mishnah and Gemara to be reconciled with our Mishnah that says that anyone may add to the Kesuvah? It must be that the Mishnah there permits lumping together the Kesuvah along with the additional sum, and writing a single large sum, only for those particular families. Our Mishnah permits adding a Tosefes to the Kesuvah and expressing it as a second sum, apart from the sum of the Kesuvah itself. The PISKEI RID (54b) rules similarly.
According to the Mordechai, though, our original question returns. Why would we have thought that adding a Tosefes should be prohibited because it is embarrassing to others who cannot add so much?
The answer might be as follows. Since the Kesuvah is a publicly known document and every man has to write a Kesuvah for his wife, there is more reason to be concerned that one who cannot add to the Kesuvah will be embarrassed. Other gifts are not publicly known. When it comes to the Nedunya, even though it is written into the Kesuvah and is known publicly, someone who cannot give so much for the Nedunya will not be embarrassed because the Nedunya is only given to attract a Shiduch. If someone gives a smaller Nedunya, he will not be embarrassed; on the contrary, a smaller Nedunya shows that the woman is so desirable that the father does not need to give a large Nedunya in order to marry her off.
How will the Ramban and other Rishonim answer the question from the Mishnah earlier (12a), which implies that only certain families are allowed to add to the Kesuvah?
TOSFOS (12b, DH Beis Din) explains that the Kohanim would write in the Kesuvah not just that they are giving a Kesuvah of 400 Zuz, but that they are giving a Kesuvah of 400 Zuz "as she deserves" ("d'Chazu Leichi"). We might have thought that this is prohibited because the Kesuvah that she deserves is only 200 Zuz and the rest is the Tosefes. The Mishnah therefore teaches that for such unique families, they indeed deserve a larger Kesuvah.
Tosfos seems to be answering the Mordechai's question. Our Mishnah permits adding extra money to the Kesuvah in a single, large sum without writing "as she deserves." The additional money is purely a gift from the husband and is not something that the woman "deserves" to have as her Kesuvah. If the words "as she deserves" were written in the Kesuvah, she would not be able to collect the extra amount because it is not true that she deserves it, unless she is from one of the unique families mentioned in the Mishnah on 12a.
HALACHAH: The REMA (EH 66:7) cites both opinions. He mentions the view of the Ramban, that both the base amount and the Tosefes may be expressed as one large sum in the Kesuvah, and he mentions the view of the Mordechai, that the two amounts must be written separately. He adds that in his area, the practice was to write them separately.
In the DARCHEI MOSHE (EH 66:9), the Rema writes that nowadays all of the Kesuvos for Besulos are written the same way, and those for an Almanah are written the same way, and that standardized Kesuvah is what is read under the Chupah (so as not to embarrass one who gives, or receives, less). Anything that the husband wants to add is written separately afterwards.
However, the practice of some Sefardic communities (Edot ha'Mizrach) is to add a separate Tosefes in the Kesuvah itself which is read during the Chupah.