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Serifat Omer ("Counting the Omer")

04/30/2024 07:38:44 AM

Apr30

Lara Giordano

Originally published in the May 2023 Newsletter
 

What is the omer?
The practice of Sefirat Ha'Omer ("counting the omer") comes from Emor, this week's parsha. The Torah reads:


“You shall count from the eve of the second day of Pesach, when an omer of grain is to be brought as an offering, seven complete weeks. The day after the seventh week of your counting will make fifty days, and you shall present a new meal offering to God (Leviticus 23:15-16).”

Thus, the omer refers to the 49-day period between the second night of Pesach and the holiday of Shavuot. 

How do you count the omer?
The counting of the omer begins on the second night of Passover. The omer is counted each evening after sundown and also generally appended to the end of Ma’ariv (the evening service). 

One stands when counting the omer and begins by reciting the following blessing: 

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer. 

After the blessing, one recites the appropriate day of the count. For example: 

Hayom yom echad la’omer. ("Today is the first day of the omer.")

After the first six days, one also includes the number of weeks that one has counted. For example: 

Hayom sh’losha asar yom, she’hem shavuah echad v’shisha yamim la’omer. ("Today is 13 days, which is one week and six days of the omer.")

The inclusion of both the day (13) and the week (one week and six days) stems from a rabbinic argument about whether the Torah mandates counting days or weeks. On the one hand, the biblical text instructs, “you shall count 50 days;” on the other hand, the text also says to “count. . . seven complete weeks.” The compromise position, manifested in the ritual, is to count both days and weeks.
 

Adapted from Jacobs, Rabbi Jill. “How to Count the Omer.” My Jewish Learning, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-to-count-the-omer/.

Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784