Rabbitcoin is the second digital painting of the series Proof-of-Work. Proof-of-Work is a series of paintings showcasing this concept of recursive CPU work. Proof-of-Work paintings are not only art pieces but art pieces that have themselves gone through a proof-of-work process to reach a target cryptographic fingerprint. Even though Rabbitcoin mainly evokes Judaism, it is itself a non-fungible token. The menorah (the traditional seven-lamp candelabrum of Jews) on the back wall is a symbol of this blend: Rabbitcoin unites the Mosaic style of the early days of Judaism with the modern pixel-based style of some collections of non-fungible tokens.
Rabbitcoin is a digital painting representing a female rabbi preaching in front of believers in a synagogue. Some elements bring a feeling of modernity to the painting (the female rabbi, the digital tool she holds in the fingers, as well as the computer on the knees of the character on the right) but at first glance, it is not completely clear which message the painter is willing to convey.
All the more as there are oddities, namely Western letters on the wall, or even the presence in the synagogue of a rabbit with a miner’s helmet. A character nonetheless gives a decisive hint to insiders: The Japanese-looking character on the front row is Dorian Nakamoto, a namesake of the secret inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. Dorian Nakamoto has been famous since the day he was mistakenly thought to be Satoshi Nakamoto himself. As we still don’t know who stands behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, Dorian has became the default face used to personify the great Satoshi.
Dorian Nakamoto and the miner are two references to the Bitcoin world while the Hebrew characters and religious clothes point to Judaism in a clearer way. This painting is a reference to the convergences between Bitcoin and Judaism.
So many similarities between Bitcoin and Judaism
Work: a cardinal value
First things first: genesis. Genesis is at the same time the name of the first book of the Torah and the first bitcoin block. Jews and Bitcoiners have a strong respect for original documents: The Torah or the tablets of the Law for Jews, the Bitcoin White Paper (or even Satoshi emails) for Bitcoiners. Those two communities thrive on books and learning: Talmud Torah is the study of the Torah, required for all Jewish children, while Bitcoiners often reference themselves as exploring the Bitcoin ‘rabbit hole’, a reference to the mass of documents to study, in order to rightly apprehend and understand Bitcoin. While Rabbitcoin is a merge between ‘rabbi’ and ‘bitcoin’, it is also a reference to the ‘rabbit’ able to store a lot of Bitcoin knowledge in his hole. This is why the rabbit at the back of the painting has consistently dug a rabbit hole in the synagogue’s library. Where books and knowledge are.
Now books are closed in the library. It is a content available but that requires an active interest. Everything is here but everything needs to be studied. This is the principle of the Torah: everything is transparent and easy to read but it requires an active work to decipher its hidden messages. Hundred years of rabbinic work and wisdom have brought us deeper understanding of the messages of the Torah. An open source work in which each researcher builds on the previous discoveries of previous researchers. Transparent data and hidden data. This is what is reflected on the wall sentence ‘Torah reveals and conceals herself’, which is a sentence from the kabbalah. Bitcoin also has those 2 sides: a transparent blockchain where everything is readable and cryptography that hides important information. On the wall at the back of the synagogue lies a key which can be understood as a symbol of the collective intelligence needed to decipher the many meanings within the Torah. While rabbis provide us keys of understanding, Bitcoiners also need private keys to sign bitcoin transactions. Behind those keys hides work. Our rabbis are proving their work on the Torah each time they deliver us a key message of the Torah; Bitcoin users activate a proof-of-work exercise as soon as they sign a transaction with their private keys. More than that, proof-of-work is what secures the Bitcoin chain. Working on the Torah secures the knowledge of the letter and the understanding of the spirit of Judaism.
In Rabbitcoin, the synagogue is rather small and does not seem crowded. Indeed, Jews are a minority in almost all countries but Jews have settled pretty much everywhere in the world. The Jewish diaspora is a decentralized network of people that have persisted throughout centuries, in spite of the attacks they have often endured. The resilience of the Jewish people has been reinforced by its international presence. Pogroms and World War 2 did not make the Jewish people disappear. Just like Bitcoin, a decentralized system that cannot be stopped, thanks to the presence of thousands of its nodes throughout the world. Are Bitcoin and Judaism even both anti-fragile? That is more of a moot point, even though we have references of attacks against the Jews which biggest consequence was to increase the sense of belonging among Jews. As for Bitcoin, in spite of all the attempts to kill it (through regulation, hacking attacks, selloffs, mining bans…), Bitcoin is still standing, proudly taunting hostile Central Banks, macro-economists and governments.
Bitcoin and Judaism value freedom and individual sovereignty. Indeed, the concept of sovereignty should apply to individual people, with no intermediary. In History, the King’s Sovereignty, i.e. the supreme authority of the King, has not always aligned well with the interest of the people. In monetary terms, Henri VIII of England or Philippe Le Bel of France were famous for reducing the amount of silver and gold of their coins, thus reducing the metal value of their people. What is good for the King is not necessarily good for the people. A few centuries later, does a national sovereignty exercised by the State better align the interests of the people with the interests of the State? Nothing could be less certain. Instead of cherishing a collective sovereignty that is hard to implement, it’s high time to promote individual sovereignty. Individual sovereignty supports each member of a people, thereby the full group. It is collective without exception, rather than collective as identical to the will of the King or State. Bitcoin holders trust unbiased mathematics more than the arbitrary rules of a Central Bank director. It is a system that does not trust the rules set by a Central Bank Director able to change them at any time to better align with the interests of the State, potentially harming the interests of its citizens. Throughout history, Jews have also several times had to assert their independence against oppressing Sovereigns (from Moses vs Pharaoh to recent Aliyah movements). This relative independence from the Sovereign is visible in the way Jews and Bitcoiners measure time: while at the moment those lines are written, the current date is July 25th of year 2022, the Jewish calendar tells me it’s instead Tamuz 26th of year 5782 and the Bitcoin calendar is at block 746,780.
Judaism is a religion with no official clergy: no Pope intermediating between God and Random Jew. This absence of clergy makes it a rather acephalous organization, therefore with no single point of failure. Just like Bitcoin. Now the flip side of such systems is that all participants have as much power in the system, which complexifies its governance. All the more to implement significant changes. This might be one reason why Bitcoin and Judaism sometimes seem rather conservative from the outside.
When the Bitcoin community is split between 2 of its pieces that have adverse ways to consider the Bitcoin system, this is resolved through a fork through which the community splits and some apply new rules that the conservative group does not want to apply. What is Christianism, if not a fork of Judaism?
Bitcoin is not a religion, yet its promoters are sometimes so keen that an outsider might think he is interacting with fanatical churchgoers, with self-proclaimed evangelists proudly singing their faith in the protocol while more silent believers remain hidden behind the pseudonymity of their crypto-religion. Bitcoin holders will recognize some of their Patriarchs on the front row of the painting Rabbitcoin: starting from left to right, Adam Back, inventor of Hashcash, the proof-of-work mechanism used in Bitcoin; Nick Szabo, inventor of Bitgold, a project of cryptocurrency very similar to Bitcoin; Dorian Nakamoto, the already-mentioned gentleman mistaken for Bitcoin’s unknown inventor Satoshi Nakamoto; Hal Finney, early Bitcoin contributor and recipient of the first bitcoin transaction.
Another common point between Bitcoin and Judaism is the absence of proselytism. That seems to be contradictory with the presence of evangelists, but in reality Evangelism is more a thing of newly-converts or executives of companies yielding revenue from Bitcoin (through exchanges, wallets or other services) whereas Bitcoin maximalists have stopped educating on Bitcoin. A famous sentence of Satoshi Nakamoto quotes: ‘if you don’t believe me or don’t get it, I don’t have time to try to convince you, sorry’. The Bitcoin Protocol has no supporting foundation, no marketing team, no PR, no TV spot, no press ad, no Google ad words budget, no salesforce nor distribution.
The absence of proselytism hides a big difference between Bitcoin and Judaism, though. While Bitcoin is available to anyone, regardless of their wealth, culture, country or ascendants, Judaism is not as open: it is indeed very difficult, if not impossible, to convert to Judaism if you cannot demonstrate that one of your forefathers was Jewish. In order to get married and found a Jewish family, a Jew needs to bring the ketuba of their parents, i.e. their religious marriage contract, parents that have had to bring the ketuba of their own parents to get married themselves, and so on and so forth up to our oldest ancestors. If we could assemble all the ketubas that ever existed, we would observe that ketubas are chained since the early times. This is very similar to the way bitcoin transactions can be tracked on the blockchain from the moment a bitcoin is created up to the last transaction it was part of. This also applies to bitcoin blocks, tracked generation after generation, each parent block yielding a child. The Sefer Torah, the scroll of paper of the Torah read in synagogues, follows the same principle as Bitcoin blocks: the Torah is divided into blocks of text printed one after another. One block is chained with the former one as the story unfolds.
Ki Tisa: a natural parsha to evoke Bitcoin
Payment in the parsha
The parsha, or Torah portion, read by the rabbi in Rabbitcoin is Ki Tisa (from Exodus 30.11 to Exodus 34.35): Ki Tisa is the 21st parsha of the year, a very meaningful number for Bitcoiners as the maximum number of bitcoins to be created was fixed to 21 millions.
But Ki Tisa has other interesting properties. First, it starts with God asking Moses to count Children of Israel, a first reference to numbers shared with Bitcoin. Not only is it about counting but also about payment. Exodus 30.12: ‘When you take a census of the Israelite men according to their army enrollment, each shall pay’. Exodus 30.13 even hints towards a payment for those inserted in a ledger: This is what everyone who is entered in the records shall pay: a half-shekel by the sanctuary weight—twenty gerahs to the shekel—a half-shekel as an offering to God. Another troubling element about Exodus 30.13 comes from Rashi, the famous French Talmudist of the 11th century. Rashi adds that, as Moshe had difficulty envisioning what the half-shekel should look like, God shows him a coin of fire, adding ‘Give like this’. Well indeed, the bitcoin orange logo precisely looks like a coin of fire. And Bitcoin is not an actual physical coin, but a more intangible item, just like fire. Give like this: through Bitcoin?
The question of erasing names from a book
What Bitcoiners call the Ledger of transactions (or the blockchain) is the shared truth of this group, as the Sefer Torah is the shared history and truth of Jews. As it is impossible to erase a transaction in the Bitcoin chain, it is impossible to erase promises of the first pages of the Holy book. Exodus 32.12 and 13: (…) Turn from Your blazing anger, and renounce the plan to punish Your people. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, how You swore to them by Your Self and said to them: I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven. But shall that take place, Moses asks God to remove him from the Holy Ledger. Exodus 32.32: ‘Now, if You will forgive their sin [well and good]; but if not, erase me from the record which You have written!’ Well, God is almighty therefore able to process ‘Torah rollbacks’: the word Moses is indeed nowhere to be seen in parsha Tetsave (the parsha preceding Ki Tisa). Yet, actually erasing a pledge to Abraham is more controversial, all the more as it was made a long time ago and had consequences in the following chapters of Genesis and Exodus. Like in Bitcoin, a rollback of numerous blocks of the Torah record is not only a technical challenge but also a moral question as it implies to move to an alternative truth.
The parsha of gold and the parsha of the Holy Law
Why does God consider punishing Jews? Because Ki Tisa is the parsha of the golden calf episode. But it is also the parsha of the Tablets of the Law (exposed on the wall in Rabbitcoin). The gold and the protocol in the same parsha. This duality is also present in Bitcoin. Bitcoin is indeed digital gold but it is also a protocol with its own laws for the benefit of all. While Ki Tisa is the parsha of the golden calf story, this is also the parsha in which God talks and provides a holy protocol to follow (the 10 commandments) for a better future. The very sacrilegious and the very sacred. While Bitcoin is digital gold and its price can be the focal point of many, it is also an uncensorable, free, secure monetary system that banks the Unbanked and can fix economic problems.
Towards a better decentralized world
The Jewish people led by Moses was a very centralized system that morally collapsed in the absence of its head, while the protocol written in the Tablets of the Law makes a sustainable future possible, even in the absence of central authority. And a better future, as reminded by the letters on Hal Finney’s laptop on the right of Rabbitcoin: The letters written on the computer mean tikkun olam, which in Hebrew stands for ‘repair the world’. Originally, tikkun olam referred to enactments to preserve the social order and can mean the eradication of idolatry: for example, it is about remembering how wrong it was to create a golden calf. For Bitcoiners, it would mean to stay away from constantly checking the dollar value of a Bitcoin out of love for money. In modern times, the meaning of tikkun olam slipped to positively contributing to improve the world. Jewish non-profit organizations often use the concept of tikkun olam to express their will to fix the problems of the world: starvation, poverty, diseases etc. This concept is also present with Bitcoin: maximalists like to list all the problems Bitcoin can solve with this motto: ‘Bitcoin fixes this!’
The reading key
Numbers and letters
At the foreground of Rabbitcoin, the Rabbi holds a Ledger Nano key (a hardware wallet of bitcoins) instead of holding a yad (this decorative pointer used by Rabbis to read the Sefer Torah). And this Ledger key points towards the Torah Ledger, and more precisely towards what should be investigated by the reader: the secret code in Hebrew-style yet western alphabet. FOE19OG is a blend of letters and numbers, which we find in Bitcoin addresses. Even though those western letters and numbers don’t fit well in the Torah scroll, they are reminiscent on the fact that Hebrew letters are also used as numbers. Hence multi-layered analyses sometimes applied by Torah researchers.
Deciphering the code in Rabbitcoin
Now the code. What can this code ‘FOE19OG’ mean? FOE as enemy? Is this ending with ‘OG’ or ‘06’?’ ‘OG’ or ‘original gangster’ is how Bitcoiners name original Bitcoiners, those that hung around Bitcoin in 2009-10, mostly belonging to the cypherpunk movement. Now ‘06’ would complement the ‘19’ into something that would look like a date. For Bitcoiners, it might refer to a hacker that had a negative impact on Bitcoiners’ trust, as he attacked Mt Gox on June 19th, 2011. For Jews, it might be a reference to 1906, the birth year of a much more sinister enemy, judged in Jerusalem after World War 2.
But Rabbitcoin is not meant to be sacrilegious: 1906 is not a reference to any date. What is more, there is no O (capital letter ‘o’) in these digits but a 0 (zero) instead. Bitcoiners will see here a tribute to Base58 – an encryption mechanism used to derive a Bitcoin address from its public key. Contrarily to Base64, Base58 does not contain zeroes or capital O, which is to make sure a Bitcoin address is well read, and no Bitcoins are sent to wrong addresses.
F0E1906 is composed of numbers and letters until F: F, 0, E, 1, 9, 0 and 6 are hexadecimal numbers. Hexadecimal is a basis of 16 digits often used in computing and cryptography, as it easily converts binary numbers (16 = 24). Hexadecimal is notably used by cryptographic hash functions (or functions used to infer a cryptographic fingerprint from any digital document), including the one mostly associated with Bitcoin: SHA-256. F0E1906 is the beginning of a hash. F0E1906 is linked to what may be the most important element of Rabbitcoin and common point between Bitcoin, Judaism and Rabbitcoin itself. Indeed, F0E1906 is the start of the SHA-256 hash of the following words: ‘Hidden Creator’.
A rabbi as the father of Bitcoin?
The face of the rabbi in Rabbitcoin is hidden. The ancient Greek word for ‘hidden’ is ‘kruptein’, which then yielded the prefix ‘crypto-’, used in cryptography or the art of hiding information. Now as the painting is a merge between ‘rabbi’ and ‘bitcoin’, the rabbi seems to be the most important character of the painting. It is in size the biggest character. Yet the viewer can’t see the face of what seems to be the focal point of the painting. It might be because we don’t have enough information about this person or because this person wants to remain hidden.
All those hints lead us to Satoshi himself, disguised as a woman, or just as a man with long hair, hiding his beard. A man that, as a tribute to Bitcoin, the painter has hidden behind a pseudonymous: rabbi. Or maybe behind his own pseudonymous. Rabbitcoin as a merge between a Rabbi and Bitcoin, Rabbitcoin as a tribute to a Rabbi creating Bitcoin?
The missing face of the rabbi may sit in the Bitcoin blockchain itself, at transaction 930a2114cdaa86e1fac46d15c74e81c09eee1d4150ff9d48e76cb0697d8e1d72 in block 138,725.
 The below text can be inferred from a bitcoin explorer: it is the concatenation of the transaction outputs’ Pkscripts’ fields data converted from hexadecimal into ASCII.