Question: [Sunday, 28th Iyar, 5782]
May I send out a Whatsapp message as to which night of Sefira we are holding in, prior to me counting? I have been doing this now for some time, sending two people on my WhatsApp group as to that nights day of Sefira, and was just wondering if there is any issue with me doing so before I myself count?
You may continue to do so, and send out a message reminder of that nights Sefira count even prior to you counting, however, to avoid all question and debate, you should not explicitly write the words, “tonight is” or “today is such and such count of the Omer,” and rather should simply write something to the sort of: “Sunday night: 44th day of Omer,” without writing the word today or tonight. Nonetheless, Bedieved, even if you do write today or tonight, you may still continue to count with a blessing.
There is a debate amongst the Poskim as to whether one who writes the day of Sefira fulfills his obligation, with some saying that it can only be fulfilled by actual verbalization of the mouth, and others saying that it has a similar status to one who writes words of Torah, of which some opinions rule that he must recite the blessing of Birchas Hatorah prior to doing so in the morning upon awakening, and hence here too regarding the Sefira count one fulfills his obligation with the writing. Now, the Achronim conclude that one should initially avoid this issue and not count with writing prior to one’s personal counting. Hence, we wrote above that initially one should avoid writing the word today, or tonight, as when the word today or tonight is missing from the count it is an invalid count according to all. Nonetheless, in truth one can argue that even if one writes the word today or tonight he does not fulfill his obligation, as aside for the fact that the simple implication of Admur in his Shulchan Aruch is that one never fulfills his obligation of counting unless he actually verbalizes it, in addition, it is possible that even the stringent opinion only considers writing to fulfill his obligation if it is written on paper, and the writing on a screen which is virtual, is meaningless. Therefore, we concluded that Bedieved one who did type the sefira using his phone keyboard does not fulfill his obligation and may continue to count with a blessing.
Sources: See regarding if one fulfills his obligation with writing the Sefira: No: Birkeiy Yosef 489:14; Rav Akiva Eiger 29-32; Chasam Sofer 6:19; Kesav Sofer Y.D. 106; Shaareiy Teshuvah 489:6; Aruch Hashulchan 489:9; Yes: Magen Shaul 20; Shvus Yaakov 1:30; Kol Eliyahu 1:30; Agurah Beahalecha p. 11; Opinion in Birkeiy Yosef 489:14 that it is possibly valid; 1st opinion in Admur 47:3 regarding Birchas Hatorah; See Kaf Hachaim 489:27-28 and 84; See Kaf Hachaim 489:27-28 and 84; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489:11; See regarding opinion of Admur: Admur 47:3 regarding Birchas Hatorah; See also Admur 489:21 “As he said a lie, as today is the 4th day and he verbalized that it is the 5th day. Now, although he had in mind to say the 4th day, it is meaningless, as the Mitzvah of counting Sefira is fulfilled only with ones mouth.”; See also: Peri Chadash 489:6; Biur Halacha 489:4 “Moneh Veholeich”; Implication of M”A 489:12; Bach; Levush; Birkeiy Yosef 489:14; Rav Akiva Eiger 29-32; Chasam Sofer 6:19; Kesav Sofer Y.D. 106; Shaareiy Teshuvah 489:6; Aruch Hashulchan 489:9; Nitei Gavriel 33:4; See regarding the need to recite the word Hayom when counting in order to fulfill his obligation: Admur 489:7 and 14; Taz 489:7; M”A 489:9; Mamar Mordechai 489:6; Shalmei Tzibur p. 296; Derech Hachaim 9; M”B 489:20; See Kaf Hachaim 489:53 Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that even if one did not say the word “Hayom:Today” he fulfills his obligation. [Elya Raba 489:13; Chok Yosef 489:18; Mamar Mordechai; See Kaf Hachaim ibid; Shaar Hatziyon 489:25]