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Counting the Omer: Biblical Commandment

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Doniel Karp
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22 Questions

What is the biblical command regarding the counting of the omer?

To count for ourselves from the day after the Shabbat (1st day of Pesach), from the day that we bring the omer offering, seven complete weeks.

On which day do we begin counting the omer?

The second night of Passover (the night of the second Seder in the Diaspora).

Why do we count forty-nine days, not fifty?

Because our Sages had a tradition that the Torah's use of the word fifty meant until the fiftieth day.

Is the mitzvah to count the omer applicable today?

Yes, even though the Holy Temple no longer stands and we no longer bring the omer offering.

At what time of day should we count the omer?

At the beginning of the night.

Why is it a personal obligation to count the omer?

Because the Torah states 'And you shall count for yourselves'.

What happens if someone forgets to count the omer and is unsure if they counted or not?

They may continue to count the remaining days of the omer with a blessing.

What is the significance of Psalm 67 in relation to the omer?

It is recited after counting the omer because it has 49 words, corresponding to the 49 days of the omer.

Why do some people count the omer at the end of the Seder in the Diaspora?

So as not to declare the day as the 16th of Nissan and make the second Seder seem superfluous.

What do the pious and righteous customarily read at the conclusion of the Seder in Eretz Yisrael and the Diaspora?

The Torah portion dealing with the omer.

What does the dictum 'our lips are our service' mean in this context?

That reading the Torah portion is a form of service to God, equivalent to bringing an offering.

When do some Sephardic communities in Israel customarily read the Torah portion dealing with the omer?

Before the first counting of the omer.

What is the correct order of the evening prayers and counting the omer?

The evening prayers come first, followed by the counting of the omer.

When can one count the omer if he neglected to count immediately after the Amidah?

One can count the omer throughout the night, and if he forgot to count at night, he can count during the day, but without the blessing.

What is the correct wording for the first night of the omer count?

Today is one day of the omer.

How do congregations that follow the Sephardic rite word the count of the omer from the seventh day on?

They say 'Today is eight days of the omer which is one week and one day.'

What happens if one makes a mistake and neglects to count either the days or the weeks?

One must count again, but does not recite another blessing.

Why should one stand while counting the omer?

Because the verse (Deuteronomy 16:9) states: 'When the grain is standing in the fields.'

What is the custom after counting the omer?

It is customary to say: 'May it be Your will that the Beit haMikdash be rebuilt speedily in our days.'

When should the count be made at the beginning of the night?

As soon as three stars appear.

What should one do if he is asked what is the proper count for that night, but he has not yet counted himself?

He should say: 'Last night was such and such.'

What if one recited the blessing without being aware of the number and added the number only after having heard it said by someone else?

He has fulfilled the obligation.

Study Notes

The Biblical Command to Count the Omer

  • The Torah commands us to count seven complete weeks from the time the omer, the new barley offering, was brought in the Temple (Leviticus 23:15-16).
  • We begin counting on the second night of Passover (the night of the second Seder in the Diaspora) and continue until Shavuot, which is the 50th day after the offering.
  • We actually count 49 days, as the Torah's use of the word "fifty" meant until the 50th day, according to our Sages' tradition.

When to Count the Omer

  • The correct time for counting the omer is at the beginning of the night, as the verse states that we are to count seven complete weeks.
  • We commence counting the omer at night and continue to count at night throughout the entire 49 days.
  • If one forgets to count, he may continue to count the remaining days of the omer with a blessing.

How to Count the Omer

  • We first recite the blessing on counting the omer ("Who has commanded us to count the omer") and then count, saying: "Today is the...day of the omer".
  • On the first night, we say: "Today is one day of the omer" and on the second night, "Today is two days of the omer", and so on.
  • From the seventh day on, we add the count of weeks to the count of days, e.g., "Today is eight days which is one week and one day of the omer".
  • If one makes a mistake and neglects to count either the days or the weeks, he must count again but does not recite another blessing.

Additional Details

  • It is customary to recite Psalm 67 after counting the omer, as it has 49 words, corresponding to the days of the omer.
  • In the Diaspora, some have the custom to count the omer at the end of the second Seder, to avoid declaring the day as the 16th of Nissan.
  • It is customary among the pious and righteous to read the Torah portion that deals with the omer, at the conclusion of the Seder, in Eretz Yisrael, and at the conclusion of the second Seder in the Diaspora.
  • In many Sephardic communities in Israel, it is customary to read this portion before the first counting of the omer.

Learn about the Torah's command to count seven weeks from the time the omer offering was brought to the Temple. Understand the significance of counting 50 days from the 16th of Nissan. Test your knowledge of this biblical commandment!

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