Have you counted your blessings today

Where does the custom of counting the omens between Passover and Shavuot come from? In the temple in Jerusalem the Jewish people offered barley as an offering on the second day of Passover. In Leviticus 23: 9-11 it says: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Tell the children of Israel and say to them: When you come to the land that I am going to give you and harvest it, you shall bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest. Let him wave the sheaf as a wave offering before the Lord, that it may please you.

From a practical point of view, the »Omer« (literally »Sheaf«), the swinging sacrifice, signaled that it was now permitted to consume the grain that had just been harvested. The Torah says that from the second day of Passover it is a mitzvah to "count the omer" every day. In the Diaspora, Omer counting begins on the second seder evening, Nissan 16th (this year it was on the evening of April 11th).

Sheaf The count ends on Shavuot: “Then you should count from the day after the Shabbat, when you offered the sheaf as a wave offering, seven full weeks. You are to count up to the day after the seventh Shabbat, namely 50 days, and then offer a new food offering to the Lord ”(Leviticus 23: 15-16).

In preparation for the Feast of Weeks the seven week period is important for growth and self-examination. Shavuot is the day on which the Jewish people stood on Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. This festival rightly requires seven weeks of preparation. Commentators say that the only reason we were set free from Egypt was to receive the Torah and to fulfill it. That is why we were told to count from the feast of Passover to the day we were given the Torah - to show how much we long for the Torah.

The omer is counted every evening after dark (about 30 minutes after sunset), that is, at the beginning of the Jewish day. In the synagogue, the count is made towards the end of the Maariv service in the evening. If someone forgets to count the omer in the evening, he can do the omer count the following day - but without a blessing (bracha). To correctly "count omer" one has to speak both the number of days and the number of weeks. From the first to the sixth day we only mention the number of days. For example: "Today is four days of the Omer."

weeks On the days that close a week - that is, on the seventh, 14th, 21st, 28th, 35th, 42nd and 49th day - we say as follows: “Today there are 21 days, that is, three Weeks of the Omer. ”On all other days we say (for example):“ Today there are 33 days, that is, four weeks and five days of the Omer. ”Since the blessing must be spoken before each count, the number for this is allowed Not to be pronounced in advance in the evening.

Before counting we stand and say the blessing in Hebrew: "Baruch Ata Adonaj, Eloheinu Melech Haolam, Asher Kidschanu Bemizvotaw Weziwanu Alsefirat Haomer." ordered us to count the Omer. "

The omer can only be counted with blessings if the following two conditions are met: first, the omer counting must take place in the evening, and second, the counting must not have been forgotten on any previous day. So if someone completely forgets to count the omer on one day and does not remember it until the following evening, he will continue counting on the following days, but without a blessing.

Why? Because the Torah writes about the Omer: "Then count ... seven full weeks." According to many authoritative sources, however, these seven weeks cannot be regarded as "full" if one has not counted every day.

students But in the period after Passover there is also another custom. The Talmud reports that Rabbi Akiwa had 24,000 students who tragically perished in the Omer period because they did not treat one another with sufficient respect. Therefore, the 33 days from Passover to Lag BaOmer are a time of mourning: We do not celebrate weddings and do not listen to instrumental music (singing is allowed).

We also don't cut our hair and only shave in exceptional cases. Since Rabbi Akiva's students showed a lack of respect for one another, we seek good relationships with our family, friends and acquaintances during the Omer so that we can practice tikkun (spiritual improvement) for past mistakes.

On the 33rd day of Omer time, Lag BaOmer (the Hebrew letters Lamed and Gimmel, "Lag", have the numerical value 33), the death of Rabbi Akiva's students came to a standstill. That is why weddings are allowed on this day of Omer time, the 18th Ijar. On the 50th day of the Omer Count, on Shavuot, the seven weeks of mourning also come to an end.

Translated and reprinted with permission from www.aish.com