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It is customary on Taanis Esther to give a coin (or three coins each) valued at half the local currency's standard unit to tzedakah in commemoration of the mitzvah of Machatzis Hashekel (Rema 694:1).

In America, there are a number of different half-dollars. Most common in circulation are silver half-dollars and copper-clad nickel half-dollars. Ideally, should one give the silver half-dollar?

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Related. –  yoel Feb 14 '13 at 17:20
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Rama says "the coin that is established in that place, in that time" המטבע הקבוע באותו מקום ובאותו זמן . The current half dollar which is not silver would suffice.

Kaf HaChaim 694:20 indicates that it is preferable to use real silver.

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Which is more established? They're all legal tender for all debts public and private. –  Double AA Feb 14 '13 at 18:33
    
@Double AA: I would bet that most people use the copper-clad nickel half-dollar as a half dollar, as the silver ones by far exceeds its value. –  Gershon Gold Feb 14 '13 at 18:35
    
@GershonGold fine that it would suffice - no question there - but would the silver one be a hiddur? –  yoel Feb 14 '13 at 18:48
    
dailyhalacha.com/… –  Efraim Jan 19 at 2:13
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