Counting the Omer
- On the second night of Passover we begin counting 49 days leading to the holiday of Shavuot. This is known as Sefirat Ha’Omer.
- The time to count is from sundown to sunrise. In Shul, the Chazzan counts out loud at the end of Maariv, followed by the congregation.
- We make a blessing “Al Sefirat Ha’Omer” followed by the appropriate day as written in your siddur.
- Women are not required to count the Omer.
- One should be careful not to mention which night it is before he has counted with a Beracha. For example: after sundown on the 22nd night, one should be careful not to say, “Tonight is the 22nd”, until he has already counted. If you accidentally did so, you may count without a Beracha and continue the next night with a Beracha.
- If one forgot to count at night and remembered the next day, he should count without making a Beracha. That night he resumes counting with a Beracha. If he forgot again, he does the same thing. Count the next day without a Beracha, and resume counting with a Beracha the next night. And so on…
- If one forgot to count at night and didn’t realize until after sundown the next day, he may no longer count with a Beracha for the remainder of the Omer. He should however, continue counting without a Beracha. One who can no longer make his own Beracha, can hear the Beracha from someone else and have in mind to be Yotzeh with his Beracha.
Restrictions during Sefirat Ha’Omer
- Sefirat Ha’Omer is divided into two halves. The first half begins on the first day of the Omer (second day of Passover), and continues until Lag Ba’Omer – the 33rd day of the Omer. The second half begins on Rosh Chodesh Iyar (15th day of the Omer), and continues until Shavuot.
- One is only required to observe the restrictions of the Omer during one half. You may choose which half to keep. (Note that the two halves overlap for 18 days.)
- One may not get married during Sefirat Ha’Omer.
- Men cannot get a haircut or shave.
- Men who must shave in order to look presentable at work may do so.
- One may not listen to live music just like all year round.
- Those keeping the first half may listen to live music on Chol Hamoed.
- One who plays an instrument may practice during Sefirat Ha’Omer
- If someone who is keeping the second half makes a wedding during the first half, even those keeping the first half may attend.
- One may get engaged during Sefirat Ha’Omer.
- Engagement parties and Sheva Brachot may not have live music.
- If a Bar Mitzvah comes out during Sefirat Ha’Omer, live music is permitted and anyone can attend.
- Those who keep the second half may shave three days before Shavuot.
- Lag Ba’Omer is the 33rd day of the Omer and is considered a Yom Tov.
- It is permitted to get married on Lag Ba’Omer, even for those keeping the second half of Sefirah.
- It is also permitted to get a haircut and shave (even Sephardim) beginning after sundown on the 33rd night.
- If Lag Ba’Omer falls out on Friday or Sunday, it is permitted to get a haircut and shave on Thursday in honor of Shabbat.
- Live music is permitted on Lag Ba’Omer.
- Follow the general Halachot of Yom Tov.
- There is a custom that the men stay up learning all night, on the first night of Yom Tov. This is not mandatory and if it’s too difficult, you can go to sleep.
- For those who stay up all night: In the morning you should wash “Netilat Yadayim”, and say all the Brachot as usual except for Birkat Hatorah. If you slept during the day on Erev Shavuot, you can say Birkat Hatorah as well.
- Some people have a custom to buy nice flowers for Shavuot. Some people have a custom to eat dairy on Shavuot. Whatever works for you is good.