The Mitzvah to Count

There is a mitzvah to count 49 days from the day the omer sacrifice was offered in the Temple. This counting, called Sefiras Haomer, began on the 16th of Nissan, or the second day of Pesach. Men are obligated in this mitzvah. Women are not obligated, as it is a positive, time-bound commandment, for which women are generally exempt. Women, may, however, count, with a blessing, if they wish.

If one forgot to count during the night, one may nevertheless count during the day, but, without a blessing. On subsequent nights, one continues counting with a blessing. If one forgot to count an entire day, one should count on all subsequent nights, however, without reciting a blessing beforehand.

One should preferably be standing during the blessing and the count.

One should count days and weeks, that is, for the tenth day, one should say “today is ten days, which is one week and three days of the omer.” Please refer to a siddur for the exact formula for each day’s count.

The greatest miracle of the Exodus from Egypt was without a doubt the fact that an entire nation, which was mired in the 49th level of impurity, was transformed to the 49th level of sanctity in just 50 days. How was this accomplished? The answer is through the counting of omer. We count each day, because each day counts. We address our spiritual defects one day at a time. No challenge is so great that it cannot be successfully overcome if it is only broken down into manageable pieces. The evil inclination tries to discourage us by magnifying the obstacles, by saying “What makes you think you can accomplish ALL this?” The answer to him must be, “I am not concerned with the challenge of a lifetime, rather, just for today.”

May we merit seven weeks of growth on the trip to Mount Sinai – one day at a time.

Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos
Rabbi Yaakov Rich

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