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Automated Forex Trading over Shabbos

Hi

I have started currency trading and have some Halacha’s to ask.

1. Is currency trading considered halachic gambling?

2. I trade through an automated system, where people from all over the world enter into trades and then their trades are copied into my account, both when they open each trade and close each trade, it is all automated and copies what they do exactly, without me having any involvement. Two problems arise from this situation:
i. When it comes to Shabbos, I am able to press a button that stops copying their trades and switch it back on after Shabbos, however I don’t like doing this, as (and this happened this last Shabbos) People enter into new trades to compensate for their bad trades (a form of hedging) that are still open from during the week, also people enter into new trades that they only close the following week, not necessarily on Shabbos aditionally when you are following someone, you need to follow their every trade, otherwise there is the possibility they could make their losses during the week and their profits on Shabbos.
ii. There is often the case that a trade is opened during the week and closed on Shabbos, if I close out all trades before Shabbos, most of the time I will end up in a loss position, what do I do with the Shabbos profits and losses? As there are often many trades closed during Shabbos, some in profit and some in loss, am I required to give away the profits to Tzedakka, and if so, do I just give away the profitable trades, or can I deduct the loss trades that occurred on Shabbos from them?

Many thanks

Mordechai

Answer:

1. Currency trading is not considered gambling. Although it involves taking a chance, there is no “gamble” with a concrete “somebody else,” and therefore the issues of asmachta (assumption) do not arise. In addition, trading is considered today to be a “skilled labor,” and an integral part of the modern market and workplace, and therefore it will not be considered gambling, which is considered as being outside the general market and workplace.

2. You don’t have to shut down the automated system on Shabbos.

As we have explained previously (see https://dinonline.org/2011/08/22/betting-on-shabbos-horseraces/), there is no prohibition on receiving money from sales on Shabbos — though under normal circumstances, the sale itself is forbidden.

In this case, where everything is automated, and where there is no concrete intention to make a sale on Shabbos, it appears that there is no prohibition at all. Although Rabbi Akiva Eiger is doubtful over whether one may arrange a sale from before Shabbos to take place on Shabbos, in this case you don’t desire the taking place of a sale on Shabbos, and therefore no prohibition will apply. This is somewhat similar to the ruling given by poskim concerning the keeping of slot machines over Shabbos.

In addition, there is room to consider the fact that most Forex trading is “virtual,” and there is no actual concrete trade that takes place. This, however, depends on the specific circumstances.

Note that this does not apply if the matter of your trading is public: It is forbidden to trade publicly as a Jew.

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