S’firat HaOmer (Counting the Omer)

Click here to receive daily email reminders to count the Omer each night at 9:00 pm.
(If you already receive Ohr Kodesh e-mails, when you type in your e-mail address you will see instructions to update your profile. Click submit and it will send you a special link that will allow you to join this list.)

Other Omer Counting Tools - In addition to the daily e-mails, you may wish to check out these other Omer counting tools:

1. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has a downloadable Omer Counter.

2. Fans of the television show “The Simpsons” may enjoy counting the “Homer.”

3. Sports fans (and parents of sports fans) may enjoy counting the Omer with the best players who have worn certain jerseys.

4. Download apps to help you Count the Omer for your Ipod or Itouch.

The practice of Counting of the Omer is based on the Biblical passage (Leviticus 23:15-16) that states, “And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering – the day after the Sabbath – you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete: you must count until the day after the seventh week – fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the Lord.” The original counting served an agricultural purpose, leading from Chag HaAviv (the Spring Holiday – Passover), when planting began, to Chag HaBikkurim (the Holiday of the First Fruits – Shavuot), when offerings of the new season were brought to the Holy Temple.

The rabbis provide a second layer of meaning, counting from the second night of Pesach - Z’man Cheruteinu (Passover, the time of freedom) during which we celebrate our release from slavery, and continue upwards in anticipation of Shavuot, Z’man Matan Torateinu (Festival of Weeks, the time of the giving of the Torah), when we celebrate receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Still later, this time period also was associated with a plague and other calamities that befell the Jewish community during this time. It then became a period of national mourning, with the exception being the 33rd day – Lag baOmer – on which the calamities stopped. This is why it is customary to refrain from certain celebrations (weddings, attending events with live music, etc) during the first 32 days of the Omer, but then celebrate on Lag baOmer (the 33rd day of the Omer). Some people resume all forms of celebration after the 33rd day, while others continue to refrain from such celebrations after Lag BaOmer until after Shavuot. We also “break” from the mourning period for Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and, more recently, Yom Ha-Atzmaut.

The Halachah (laws) of S’firat HaOmer
The mitzvah (obligation) is to count each of the days during this time period, reciting the blessing and a special formula for each day. The ideal time to Count the Omer is at night. However, if you miss counting at night, you may still recite the formula the following day, but you would not say the blessing. (If this occurs, you resume reciting the formula with the blessing the next evening.)

Since the mitzvah is to fully count both the days (49) and the weeks (7 weeks), one who misses a day completely did not fully count the days. Therefore, such a person no longer says the blessing but is still encouraged to recite the formula each day. 

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