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Is it Halachicly permissible to place buy or sell orders for a cryptocurrency / stock that might be matched on Shabbos?

Example: If someone places an order for Bitcoin at $10,000, the price might hit $10,000 on Shabbos and the order would go through, exchanging USD for Bitcoin. And vice-versa for a sale.

There is no Maisah of buying/selling on Shabbos. Before Shabbos a buy order was placed and the exchange engine will match the buy order if someone else's sell order matches it.

Is there any Halachic problem?

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I do not see a difference between placing an order for stock or (crypto-)currency. Maybe the question arises because crypto-currency trades 24/24 7/7 unlike certain stocks.

The question of putting in a limit order which might or might not get triggered on Shabbat was asked before and answers tend to be lenient, i.e., it is allowed if (1) there is no human intervention post-trade and (2) you do not explicitly plan for the transaction to happen on Shabbat (as in a time-delayed order). Both conditions are satisfied with crypto-currencies.

But as always, CYLOR before acting on anything you read here.


dinonline writes (regarding Yom Tov since, unlike Shabbat, stock trades on Yom Tov) - the case here is after the fact, i.e., a limit order was triggered after the questioner forgot it

Although it would not be correct to intentionally make an order for purchasing stock on Shabbos or Yom Tov, post factum there is no problem in keeping the stock, and this would not be considered an issur, certainly if done without intent.

Sources: Authorities dispute whether it is permitted to arrange for a kinyan to take place on Shabbos. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (159) cites a proof from Terumas Hadeshen (269) that there is no prohibition is doing so, but continues to prove that it is prohibited. Iggros Moshe (Orach Chaim III, no. 44) defers both proofs, and writes that one should be stringent, and this is also the opinion of Radvaz 456. However, a number of authorities are lenient in this matter -- see Shaul Umeishiv VI, no. 50, and Divrei Shaul, Shabbos Hagadol, concerning selling chametz on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbos; Maharshag 13; Maharam Schick 131; Machaneh Chaim, Orach Chaim III, no. 22), and see also Avnei Nezer (Orach Chaim 51).

Thus although in deference to stringent authorities, it is not proper to intentionally arrange a sale for Shabbos, as a rabbinic prohibition (making sales on Shabbos is a rabbinic prohibition) in doubt, it cannot be called a transgression. Certainly, if done without intention, no issur can be said to have been transgressed (according to Nesivos Hamishpat, even a certain rabbinic prohibition transgressed without intent is not considered to be a transgression), and no repentance is required.

Eretz Hemda writes similarly

Usually, a non-Jew who is paid by the job may do such work for a Jew on Shabbat, as he is considered to be working on his own behalf for the pay. However, he may not be told to do the work on Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 247:1). In this case, your instructions are that if the limit is reached on Shabbat, they should make the transaction specifically then.

We have ascertained that after you place the order by computer, there is rarely human intervention in the processing of your trade. When no melacha is being done on Shabbat on your behalf by a person, but only automatic computer activity, the main question disappears. Someone at your brokerage may do melacha in sending you confirmation notification. On the other hand, even if this does happen, you do not need to ask them to do so on Shabbat.

See there for further sources on time differences between the location of the client and the location of the stock exchanges - not directly relevant to your question.

Finally R Yosef Y Kushner in his book Commerce and Shabbos writes regarding buying/selling stocks on Shabbat/Yom Tov via automated programs

One should avoid specifically scheduling the sale to take place on Yom Tov. [...] It would be permitted to program a sell or buy order based on a particular price and not dependent on any specific date. [...] This is because since the sale was not scheduled specifically for Yom Tov there would be no issue of doing business on Shabbat (issur meka'ch u'memkar). However one must be certain than no human intervention whatsoever is required to execute the sale thereby bypassing any issues related to amirah la'akum (telling a non-Jew to do work on Shabbat).

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