Halacha for Wednesday 18 Nissan 5781 March 31 2021

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” refers to the day following the first day of Pesach which is a holiday. (This is what is meant by the words, “the day following the Shabbat,” i.e. the day following the first day of Pesach which is a holiday, also known as “Shabbaton.” Therefore, on the night following the first day of Pesach following Arvit, we immediately begin counting the Omer.) It is a Torah commandment to count the Omer beginning from the Sixteenth of Nissan until the end of seven weeks, which is a period of forty-nine days.

Counting the Omer-A Torah or Rabbinic Commandment
Nevertheless, since the Torah also states
(Devarim 16, 9), “You shall count for yourselves seven weeks, from when the sickle begins to strike the standing stalks shall you begin to count these seven weeks,” which means from the time the Omer offering was harvested and unfortunately nowadays when the Bet Hamikdash no longer stands, we have neither the harvesting of or bringing of the Omer offering. Thus, this Mitzvah of counting the Omer is only rabbinic in commemoration of the services performed in the Bet Hamikdash. Therefore, in the “Leshem Yichud” text customarily recited before counting the Omer, one should omit the phrase, “As the Torah states, ‘And you shall count for yourselves’” etc. for the Mitzvah of counting the Omer is no longer a Torah commandment. (Although according to the opinion of the Rambam and the Ra’avaya there is no correlation between the Mitzvah of counting the Omer and the harvesting the Omer and according to them the Mitzvah of counting the Omer is a Torah commandment even nowadays, nonetheless, we do not rule this way and the Halacha in this matter follows Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, whose rulings we have accepted, who rules that counting the Omer is only a rabbinic commandment nowadays, for this is indeed the opinion of Rav Hai Gaon, Tosafot,  Rosh,  Itur,  Rashba, Ran, and others).

One Who Forgets to Count One Day
The Mitzvah of counting the Omer is a Mitzvah during every single day of the counting period, and for this reason we recite a blessing on it before counting every single day.

However, according to the opinion of the Ba’al Halachot Gedolot, if one has forgotten to count the Omer on one day during the counting period he can no longer continue to count the Omer since it is not possible to count by skipping (for if one counts one, two, four, he has counted incorrectly; thus, if one missed counting one day he can no longer rectify this and what he counts from now on is not considered counting at all). Halachically speaking, we hold that even if one has forgotten to count one day of the Omer, he may in fact continue to count the rest of the days for every day is a separate Mitzvah regardless of the other days. Nevertheless, since we always follow the great rule of “when in doubt, do not bless,” regarding the blessing we are concerned about the opinion of the Ba’al Halachot Gedolot. Therefore, if one forgets to count one day of the Omer, one should continue to count the rest of the days as usual; however, from now on he should not recite the blessing before counting.

A Child who Turns Thirteen during the Omer
Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l  discusses (in his Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 3, Orach Chaim, Chapter 27) the Halacha regarding a child who turns thirteen years old during the Omer period. Since the days he has counted until this point were counted when he was still a child and not halachically obligated to perform the Mitzvot like an adult, his status is similar to one who has not counted the Omer until now and thus does not continue to count with a blessing on subsequent nights. He speaks lengthily and brings a great many sources to support his view. The luminaries of the previous generation debated this matter at length. Nevertheless, halachically speaking, a child who turns thirteen years old during the Omer should continue to count on the subsequent night without reciting a blessing.

The Time for the Counting and the Laws of Women and Counting the Omer
The appropriate time for counting the Omer is at night; however, if one forgets to count at night, one may count throughout the day without reciting a blessing before counting, in which case one may continue counting on all subsequent nights while reciting a blessing.

Women who count the Omer should not recite a blessing before counting. According to our custom though, women do not count the Omer at all. The reason for this is discussed by the Mekubalim.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Taking Haircuts and Shaving During the Omer Period

Abstaining from Taking Haircuts During the Omer It has become customary among the Jewish nation to refrain from taking haircuts during the Omer counting period: According to the Ashkenazi custom, until the 33rd day of the Omer and according to the Sephardic custom, until the morning of the 34th day......

Read Halacha

Producing Sound and Whistling on Shabbat

The Gemara in Masechet Eruvin (104a) tells us that our Sages banned producing sound on Shabbat and Yom Tov, for instance, by playing a musical instrument, for they were concerned that while the tune is being played, the player will come to fix the instrument. This decree would certainly apply eve......

Read Halacha

Clapping and Drumming on a Table on Shabbat and Yom Tov

The Gemara in Masechet Beitzah (30a) states that one may not drum, clap, or dance on Shabbat lest one come to fix a musical instrument (ibid. 36b). This means that just as we have discussed in the previous Halachot that our Sages have decreed that one may not play musical instruments on Shabbat ......

Read Halacha

Toys Which Produce Sound and those Which Operate Using a Spring or Coil

Question: Is it permissible for one to allow one’s young children to play with toys which produce sound, such as a doll which makes noise when shaken, on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the prohibition of producing sound on Shabbat, such as by banging on a board, ......

Read Halacha


Praying in Pajamas

Question: Can one pray while wearing pajamas? Answer: Approximately one week ago, we have discussed that, before praying, one must prepare a fitting place, proper attire, and cleanse one’s body and thoughts, as the verse in the book of Amos states, “Prepare yourself before your G-d, I......

Read Halacha

Praying Barefoot

Question: May one pray while wearing sandals or while one is barefoot? Answer: When one prays, one must prepare one’s environment, clothing, body, and thoughts accordingly, for one will be standing before the King of all kings. Respectable Garments While Praying The Gemara (Shabbat 9b) ......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Kissing One’s Parents’ Hands on Shabbat Night- The Students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Question: Should one kiss the hands of one’s parents and receive a blessing from them on Shabbat night and does the same apply equally to one’s father and mother? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah (17a) tells us that when Ulah (a sage who lived during the Talmudic era) would......

Read Halacha