What are the halakhot that apply to bitcoin? Is it halakhickly money? What even is the halakhic definition of money? Can bitcoin transactions be made over shabbat? That sort of thing.


3 Answers 3



Jewish law distinguishes three categories of value: goods, which have inherent value; a note, which is a promise of value from a particular individual; and money, which is abstract value.

You might think that Gold and Silver coins have inherent not abstract value, but as the Chazon Ish said, Gold and Silver have no actual material use. People want them only because they are rare, and that means they have abstract value.

Bitcoin, and the balance in your electronic bank account, are the same: They have only abstract value, and are therefor money in halacha.

PS. It would be pretty hard to actually spend bitcoins on Shabbos since they are electronic only.

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    Those aren't real coins, since they can only be used once. Once the coin address is redeemed it can never be used again. Well, I guess you can trade coins with people without ever actually redeeming the address, but I think halachically doing that would be the equivalent of a promissory note, since you aren't exchanging money, you are exchanging the promise of money.
    – Ariel
    Mar 12, 2013 at 6:27
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    @Ariel Therefore they are bitcoin futures. :) Mar 12, 2013 at 18:25
  • @CharlesKoppelman Very clever! When, and if, there are forward contracts, i.e. futures, or options-on-futures, on bitcoin, I think the same halakhot would apply as to any other financial- or physical-based commodity (derivative) though. Mar 17, 2013 at 8:16

Short answer: Bitcoin is the same as money.

Long Answer: Halachically , in the talmid money is anything which is minted and has a face on it. (Talmud bavli shabbat, muuktzeh) the Talmud compares a melted coin and a coin in regards to muktzeh on shabbat. Though the melted coin has value there is no risk of it being used in a transaction. The value of the slug itself might actually go up or down in value causing interest problems. However, business transactions and laws of interest etc are based on anything that can be exchanged for something of value. (You notice this the most at weddings when a hankerchief or pen is used as a method of transferring ownership) Money is muktzeh on shabbat because of it's connection to a contract, and one is not allowed to write on shabbat. Meaning the important thing is the contracts, not the form of money itself. Bitcoins are no different from the usage of credit cards or online shopping or checks where no physical money is transferred.

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    If a pen is money, why can I charge you to borrow it?
    – Double AA
    Feb 2, 2013 at 23:42
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    So because I can go to a pawn shop and convert jewelry, electronics, and antiques into money, those things are money Feb 3, 2013 at 0:49
  • @DoubleAA, IINM (CYLOR) you can charge me to borrow money, too, if you require the same bills back (i.e., it's a sh'ela not a halvaa).
    – msh210
    Feb 3, 2013 at 5:11
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    If @msh210 can't find an English word for it, then no such word exists.
    – Double AA
    Feb 3, 2013 at 5:27
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    You contradict yourself. You say bitcoin is money because anything minted which has a face is money. But bitcoin is not minted and has no face, so you have not established that it is money.
    – Ariel
    Mar 11, 2013 at 6:57

All cryptocurrencies (bitcoin etc.) are not money and never will be. According to Torah Law (Bava Metzia, where it discusses why money cannot be used for a kinyan / acquisition because a person has his attention on the seal on the money-source needed ) and even secular law. Though they might share some characteristics. There is no government issuing it as currency. No goverment, no judicial branch, no laws, no executive branch. Not money

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    How do you know they never will be?
    – Double AA
    Apr 1, 2014 at 17:21
  • Notice all real currency is always associated with a signature, a name, a land. All crypto "currency" does not require a name nor a signature (or seal) Once these things are required (and the other conditions are met) Then it is currency. Like the dollar. Like the Torah says. No seal from the government (as official money) not money. Once a signature (or seal) is required then it's not cryptocurrecy. Apr 1, 2014 at 17:41
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    Editing into your answer how you know such a government approbation is required halachikally would greatly improve its value. Right now it's just the word of a random internet user with the last name "Nanach".
    – Double AA
    Apr 1, 2014 at 17:43
  • Cryptocurrencies are actually built on top of signature systems, digital, cryptographic signature systems though: the khan academy series is informative: www.khanacademy.org/economics-finance-domain/core-finance/money-and-banking/bitcoin/v/bitcoin-what-is-it
    – הראל
    Apr 1, 2014 at 18:07
  • The seal comes from the individual sending the 'money', not the government, does that matter?
    – הראל
    Apr 1, 2014 at 18:08

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