It's not so easy to mint coins. Canadian law says: If you want to destroy money, then burn banknotes. Don't destroy metal coins.

In fact, in Canada, it is legal to burn banknotes. (Note: In the U.S., it's illegal.)

A) Most people redeem ma'aser sheni (second tithe) using a coin. If you purchase imported Israeli produce, are you allowed to redeem ma'aser sheni using a banknote — even though a banknote is not a coin?

B) The Wikipedia article "Burning money" says that burning paper money helps control inflation. (Destroying coins might be different.) If you burn a $5 bill, you will increase the collective wealth of your fellow countrymen by about $5. Will you have fulfilled the commandment of bi'ur ma'asrot even though you've just enriched your countrymen?

Warning: If you want to burn the new Canadian plastic banknotes, consult a doctor first. Ask about the health effects of the fumes which will result.

Note: The vast majority of people who answer questions here are educated laypeople, not rabbis. In matters as complex as this, don't rely on laypeople. Instead, ask a local Orthodox rabbi, for many reasons.

  • Ever since they stopped using the gold standard - most countries have by now - burning [so little] cash should have no real effect.
    – user3113
    Mar 25, 2014 at 21:58
  • @BackseatChazan Nope. See the wikipedia article referenced in the article: "However, according to the quantity theory of money, because it reduces the supply of money it increases the value of the remaining money, increasing (by roughly the same amount as the money burnt) the collective wealth of everyone else who holds money." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_money
    – Eliyahu
    Apr 1, 2014 at 2:06

2 Answers 2


A) One can only redeem Ma'aser Sheini on coins - that is well codified, starting with the Mishna, all the way through to the Shulchan Aruch.

Bank notes are not coins, and do not qualify.

To quote the Rambam in הלכות מעשר שני ונטע רבעי פרק ד:

ט) אין פודין פירות מעשר אלא בכסף, שנאמר "וצרת הכסף" (דברים יד,כה); וכן אם פדה לעצמו והוסיף חומש, לא יהיה החומש אלא כסף כקרן. ו*אין פודין בכסף שאינו מטבע*, אלא בכסף מרותח שיש עליו צורה או כתב; ואם פדה בלשון של כסף וכיוצא בו, הוא הנקרא אסימון--לא עשה כלום. ואין פודין בפחות מפרוטה, מפני שהוא כפודה באסימון.

For an English translation, see Halacha 9 here.

B) This question becomes irrelevant, as you cannot redeem Ma'aser Sheini onto paper money.

  • Our coins arent silver though, ie they have no inherent value, so how is that different from bills?
    – Double AA
    Mar 26, 2014 at 14:22
  • @DoubleAA - The Rambam says it needs to be a minted coin worth at least a פרוטה. Which of our coins do not qualify? (Google found me this, for example: opencurrency.com/whats-a-penny-worth). What we can discuss is what is the Ma'aser-Shein worth of our coins; it's inherent value or its face value. Mar 27, 2014 at 8:38
  • If we use the face value (which everyone does) then we should be able to use paper too.
    – Double AA
    Apr 27, 2014 at 9:22
  • @DoubleAA - but we need a COIN - as it states (ibid) אין פודין בכסף שאינו מטבע Apr 27, 2014 at 13:04

You can take out the five dollar bill from your bank account. Due to the reserve ratio, every 5 dollars in the bank is 50 dollars the bank may lend out. So by removing 5 dollar, you are affecting inflation by 50 dollars. You can then transfer your maaser sheni to the 5 dollar bill and burn it. Although burning it will reduce the money supply, cause deflation, and enrich your countrymen, 1) Its removal from the bank will have produced nine times the opposite effect. 2) The countrymen will each have been enriched by less than a peruta. The enrichment is thus not halachically significant.

  • Why the commentless downvotes? Apr 1, 2014 at 1:07
  • because haters be hating Apr 1, 2014 at 2:40
  • Hold on. Take a look at Danny Schoemann's answer, above. Do you still truly believe that it IS permissible to redeem ma'aser sheni using a banknote? Sep 2, 2014 at 23:25
  • Paper money, which is different from promissory notes used in the time of the Gemara, was first introduced in China in the 7th century and did not come to Europe until the 13th century. The Mishna, Shulchan Aruch, and even Rambam would not have been familiar with this mode of currency and limiting redemption to coins (which had intrinsic value in those days) may only mean to exclude promissory notes and goods. Sep 3, 2014 at 3:36

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