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How do I count the Omer?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Holidays » Counting the Omer | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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After nightfall -- [Preferably, the Omer is to be counted during the Maariv prayer, before the Aleinu. However, technically the Omer can be counted any time after nightfall, before or after Maariv.] -- say the following blessing:

Baruch atta Ado-noy Elo-hai-nu Melech ha'olam asher kid-e-sha-nu b'mitz-vo-tav v'tzi-vanu al se-fee-rat ha-omer. [Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.]

Afterward, without interruption, you count the appropriate day -- calculating the weeks and the days. For example, on the twenty-third day of the Omer we say: "Today is twenty-three days, which is three weeks and two days of the Omer." At this point it is customary to recite several prayers. They can be found in your prayerbook, or by clicking here. Both the blessing and the actual counting should be recited while standing.

When the Omer is counted in the synagogue, it is customary for the chazan to recite the blessing and count the Omer aloud before the congregation does so. In many communities this honor is given to the rabbi. In certain Sephardic communities, the Ark is opened for the counting of the Omer. This serves to remind everyone that we are counting down to Shavuot, the holiday which commemorates our receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.

See also What do I do if I forgot to count the Omer one night?


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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Shavuot
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Sephardic
(adj.) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.
Omer
Starting from the second day of Passover, we count forty-nine days. The fiftieth day is the holiday of Shavuot. This is called the “Counting of the Omer” because on the second day of Passover the barley “Omer” offering was offered in the Holy Temple, and we count forty-nine days from this offering. [Literally, "Omer" is a certain weight measure; the required amount of barley for this sacrifice.]
chazan
A cantor, or any individual who leads the congregation in prayer.
Maariv
Evening prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.