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

General Conduct During the Sefirah

Between Pesach and Shavuos, as a people, we mourn the passing of the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva. This is manifest through certain restrictions in our celebrations and simcha. Below is summary of those restrictions.

  • We do not get married (although we may get engaged).
  • We do not play or listen to musical instruments. (Singing is permissible.)
  • Recordings of music, radio, etc., are likewise forbidden. (Recordings of singing, a cappella, etc., are permissible.)
  • Haircuts and shaving are forbidden. (One whose livelihood will suffer because of not cutting or shaving one’s hair may be lenient.)

The laws above only represent a summary. There are complications and exceptions to the rules stated in this post. As with all halacha, one must endeavor to understand the spirit of the law, and apply this understanding to cases not mentioned. Don’t hesitate to contact me (972-774-0813 or with any questions or concerns.

Rabbi Akiva’s students died because they did not give proper respect to each other (Yevamos 62:). Therefore, the purpose of the restrictions during the sefirah period is for one to reflect upon one’s character traits, and one’s relations with others. The Torah was originally accepted in a spirit of extreme unity. It is this quality that we try to instill in ourselves and our families, as we prepare for Shavuos.

Rabbi Yaakov Rich

CTC Meeting tonight

Hello Everyone,

Hope you all had a wonderful Pesach! G-d willing we will be closing on our new shul building today at 2:00 p.m. We will be having our next Steering Committee Meeting tonight, April 11, 2007,  in the new shul at 9:00 p.m.  All are welcome.

Congregation Toras Chaim
17912 Hillcrest (Where Winding Rose Trail meets Hillcrest)
Dallas, TX 75252

See you there.
Shalom Abrams

Step-By-Step Laws of the Seder

Hello everyone.
Step-By-Step Laws of the Seder   
Attached is a Step-By-Step Laws of the Seder. It is meant to be printed front and back, then folded in half, to be kept by your plate at the seder for easy reference. Look it over beforehand for a quick review, and to be able to navigate your way correctly this Monday night.
See you at the Abrams, Thursday night at 8:30 — if you need to sell your chametz.
Wishing everyone a chag kasher v’sameach — a happy, healthy Pesach.
Rabbi Yaakov Rich