How much is a 'perutah' worth in modern currency?
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I believe for most Halachic topics today that require "one prutah's worth" of cash, goods, or services (e.g. the minimum needed to effect a wedding), we go with an economic definition: the smallest amount of money that can buy something. Despite inflation, there are plenty of things you can still buy today for fifty cents or less, so fifty cents is certainly shaveh prutah; I'm not sure whether it's a nickel, dime, or quarter, but fifty cents certainly is enough. Or as someone once said to my father:
My father replied:
The weight of a p'ruta was half that of a barleycorn, and it was silver. Assuming — without justification — that barleycorns weigh now what they did then, and other unjustified assumptions, we have: Wikipedia gives the weight of a barleycorn as about 65 mg. At about 31,103.4768 mg per troy ounce and a current price of silver of about USD28.20, that gives about 2.9 cents to a p'ruta.
R' Chaim Na'eh in his Shiurey Torah (3:42) calculated the weight of a Talmudic era peruta coin as 1/40th of a gram of silver (25mg). According to WolframAlpha this is worth 0.02 USD at the time of posting. However, this may not be the contemporory understanding of "shaveh perutah" in Halacha.
protected by Monica Cellio♦ Mar 31 '13 at 22:35
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