The Counting

I’m writing this on the 14th day of the Omer, malchut in g’vurah. So far, my love of this annual exercise (chesed) and my increasingly limited ability to stay focused (g’vurah) have seen me through the first two weeks with some help from Hanna Tiferet. But Hanna is back in Boston and I’m my own and I’ve never made it through all seven weeks without missing a day or two at least. However, I just turned 66 and can’t predict how many more chances I’m going to get so my plan is work to hard to accomplish a full counting at least once in my life.

I was educated in Orthodox yeshivot and have some residuals from that time. On the Thursday of chol ha-mo’ed, Hanna and I went for our Omer haircuts, since I still won’t cut my hair during this period except on permitted days. I also grew up with the Ashkenazi halachah that allows one to miss only once. If one forgets to count in the evening, one can count the next morning without a brachah and then pick up again at night. Forget twice and no more brachot, so why bother after that.

This approach always seemed harsh to me and so I was happy to learn that not all rabbinic authorities agree with this position which is based on the assumption that counting the Omer is one mitzvah which stretches over a seven week period. There are rabbis, I was told, who argue that if counting the Omer was one mitzvah, then the brachah should be said the first night and then not again. Given that everyone agrees that the brachah should be said each time, these rabbis suggest that the mitzvah is to count each day and so missing a few doesn’t stop one from picking up again with the brachah. Though I haven’t seen this in writing, it makes more sense to me and I encourage people to accept this more forgiving approach.

Thirty-eight years ago, when Hanna was pregnant with our second son, Reb Zalman taught us a little niggun for one phrase which appears in the post counting meditation. In this paragraph, we say that we hope that our counting on this night, say g’vurah in tif’eret, will correct whatever we have damaged in this s’firah and, by virtue of the counting, may great abundance be drawn into all the worlds.

The words are:

V’al y’day zeh, yooshpah shefa rav b-chol hah-olahmot. 

  וְעַל יְדֵי זֶה יֻשְׁפַּע שֶׁפַע בְּכָל הָעוֹלָמוֹת

Here is the niggun. May it enhance your own counting as we move from exodus to revelation.


And, by the way, we named our son Shefa. Reb Aryeh z”l liked to call him Shefa Rav.