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Fulfilling the Mitzvah through hearing the Sefira from another person:
One cannot appoint a messenger to count the days on his behalf. This applies whether one asks an individual to count on his behalf, or one asks a congregation, or Chazzan to count on his behalf. This however only applies if one does not hear the counting from the appointed messenger. If however one hears the counting from that person, then it is disputed in Poskim as to whether one fulfills his obligation. Practically, one is to initially suspect for the stringent opinion, and therefore not rely on hearing the counting from the Chazzan or other individual, and is to rather count himself. [In the event that that one relied on the hearing of the Sefira from another person, and they both had in mind to be Yotzei/Motzei, then he is not required to repeat the counting. If one did not have anything in mind, then he is to repeat the counting without a blessing, and if one specifically had in mind to not be Yotzei, then he is to repeat the counting with a blessing, as explained in Halacha 17. If one did not have anything in mind and did not repeat the count that day, see Halacha 17 and 22 that seemingly he may continue counting with a blessing the following nights.]
Fulfilling the blessing through hearing the blessing from another person:[5One may even initially fulfill the blessing through hearing it from the Chazzan of the Minyan, even if he knows how to say the blessing himself. In such a case, one is to count the Sefira immediately after hearing the blessing of the Chazzan. [This however only applies if the person counting had in mind to include the listener in the fulfillment of the blessing, as well as that also the listener had in mind to fulfill the blessing through the hearing. If however, either the Chazzan or listener did not have in mind to be Yotzei/Motzie, then it is questionable if he has fulfilled his obligation of the blessing. Practically, in such a case he is to make an interval of speech, or enter another room, prior to counting the Sefira and then say the blessing and count.]
May one fulfill the blessing through hearing another person reciting it if a Minyan is not present?
Yes. There is no requirement to have a Minyan present in order to be Yotzei a blessing with another person. Nonetheless, when a Minyan is not present, it is better for each person to say their own blessing rather than be Yotzei with another person.
Is the congregation to be Yotzei their blessing with the blessing of the Chazzan, or are they to recite their own blessing individually?
Whenever a Minyan of people are fulfilling a Mitzvah at the same time, and each individual is performing their own Mitzvah, they can choose to either have one person say the blessing for them all, or have each person recite their own blessing. There is no Halachic precedence for one way over the other, as each method contains an advantageous aspect. Nonetheless, the widespread custom today is for every individual to recite the blessing himself, even if a Minyan is present, and so is the proper directive. When a Minyan is not present, it is always better for each person to say their own blessing rather than be Yotzei with another person, as explained previously.
Counting with a blessing after overhearing the Sefira/blessing from another:
If one casually overheard the counting of another person, whether from a private individual or congregation, without any particular intent of being Yotzei or not being Yotzei, then it is disputed as to whether he fulfilled his obligation. This dispute applies even if the person who said the Sefira did not have in mind to fulfill the obligation of the listener. Practically, one who overheard the Sefira from another is to repeat the Sefira without a blessing. This applies beginning from Bein Hashmashos. If however one specifically had in mind to not fulfill his obligation with the overhearing of the Sefira, then he is to repeat the Sefira with a blessing. If however he did not have in mind to not fulfill his obligation, then even if he had in mind that he is not intending to fulfill his obligation, he is to repeat the counting without a blessing, as stated above. [Accordingly, whenever one overhears the blessing/Sefira from another he is to have in mind to not be Yotzei with the blessing/Sefira. It is also proper for the person saying the blessing/Sefira, such as the Chazzan, to specifically have in mind to not be Motzie with his blessing and Sefira anyone who plans to say the blessing afterwards. To emphasize this point that one is not being Yotzei with the Chazzan, one is to answer Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo to his blessing. In a case that one overheard the Sefira, and was supposed to repeat the counting and did not do so, see Halacha 22 that if he had in mind to be Yotzei then he may certainly continue counting with a blessing the following nights, and even if he did not have anything in mind seemingly he may continue to count the future nights with a blessing.]
During a Minyan, must one have intention to not fulfill his obligation with the Chazzan’s counting?
It is customary for the Chazzan to recite the blessing and Sefira aloud, which is then followed by the blessing and Sefira of the congregation. If one is Davening with this Minyan and plans to recite the Sefira together with the congregation then it is not necessary to have in mind to not fulfill the Mitzvah/blessing with the Chazzan, as even if one did not have this explicitly in mind he may continue and count with a blessing. [If however, he does not plan to count Sefira at this time, or he is still holding in Shema or Shemoneh Esrei, then he must explicitly have this in mind.]
If in middle of a Minyan for Maariv, or while waiting for a Minyan for Maariv, one overheard the counting of Sefira from another nearby Minyan, may he count with a blessing?
One may only count with a blessing if he had in mind to not fulfill his obligation with their counting. If he did not have in mind to not be Yotzei, then he is to recount without a blessing. This applies even if one was in the midst of Shemoneh Esrei, when he heard the Sefira, he nevertheless must have in mind to not be Yotzei. Due to this reason, it is proper for Minyanim to not be within ears distance of each other by Maariv.
If one overheard the counting from a child or woman, may he still count with a blessing?
An adult male [i.e. over Bar Mitzvah] who overheard a woman or child say the blessing/Sefira does not fulfill his obligation according to any opinion and is thus to repeat the Sefira with a blessing.
Having in mind before the start of Sefirah to not be Yotzei with anyone else:
A good advice to avoid entering into the above Halachic issue is to have in mind prior to the start of Sefira that from now and onwards one intends to not be Yotzei with anyone’s blessing/Sefira, unless he decides otherwise [such as if he needs to hear the blessing from another due to Safek]. This intent is effective throughout the entire duration of Sefira and prevents one from needing to have this mind every particular time he overhears a Sefira/blessing.
 Background of dispute recorded in Admur ibid:
First Opinion-May fulfill the Mitzvah with other if heard and have in mind: Although one cannot appoint a messenger to count for him, nevertheless, if one hears the counting from his friend then he fulfills his Biblical obligation. The reason for this is because [there is a rule] that one who hears a verbal Mitzvah is considered to have actually said it, if one heard it from a person that is obligated in the Mitzvah. [1st opinion in Admur ibid; Possibility in M”A 489:2; Beis Yosef 489 in name of Rashba; Peri Chadash 489:1] This however only applies if the person counting had in mind to include the listener in the fulfillment of the Mitzvah, as well as that also the listener had in mind to fulfill the mitzvah through the hearing. Likewise, it only applies when hearing the counting from a person that is obligated in the Mitzvah. [Admur ibid]
If heard but did not have in mind to be Yotzei: In accordance to the first opinion that one can be Yotzei through hearing the Sefira from another, some Poskim rule that since there are opinions who say that Mitzvos do not need intention for one to fulfill his obligation, and furthermore there are opinions who say that by a Rabbinical Mitzvah, according to all one does not need intention, therefore, whenever one hears someone else count, he must have in mind to not fulfill his obligation with him, otherwise he has already fulfilled his obligation according to this opinion. It is not enough to simply have in mind to not have intention to fulfill his obligation with him; rather he must have in mind to not fulfill his obligation. [Admur 489:12]
Second Opinion-Cannot fulfill obligation in hearing from others: Some Poskim argue on the above and rule that every individual must actually personally count to himself. [Second opinion in Admur ibid; Initial argument in M”A ibid; Levush 489:1; Chok Yaakov 489:4]
 Admur ibid; Peri Chadash 489:1 in his initial conclusion
 Implication of Admur ibid who concludes “Lechatchila not to rely”, that we mainly rule like the first opinion and so rules Divrei Nechemia 489:1-9; Vetzaruch Iyun as nevertheless since this matter is a doubt, and according to some the Mitzvah of counting is Biblical, perhaps it is proper for him to recount himself, as Admur rules in 489:13 with regards to recounting after having counted by Bein Hashmashos. The Divrei Nechemia ibid thus concludes that one must say that Admur mainly holds like the first opinion and it is hence not considered a Safek at all.
 Admur ibid; M”A 489:10
 Admur ibid that this is allowed specifically in a Minyan, hence implying that if a Minyan is not present [ten Jews] then one should not rely on another person’s blessing. Vetzaruch Iyun as in M”A ibid, as well as 8:11 no mention is made of that this is limited to the presence of a Minyan. Likewise, in Admur 59:4 he rules that a Yachid may be Motzi a Yachid by Birchas Hamitzvos, Vetzaruch Iyun
 The reason: As when there are ten Jews doing a Mitzvah together it is allowed for one Jew to say the blessing on behalf of all the congregants, as explained in 8:11. [Admur ibid] See Q&A that this means that only if there is a Minyan is there no preference to saying the blessing on one’s own rather than being Yotzei with another, while if there is less than a Minyan, then it is preferable to say the blessing on one’s own.
 As stated by Admur ibid in the ruling of the 1st opinion.
 See next Halacha!
 Admur 59:4 “An individual may not be Motzi another individual with a blessing with exception to Birchas Hanehenin and Birchas Hamitzvos. And the like of all other blessings, however by Birchas Shema and Birchas Hashevach, a Minyan is required”; Admur 8:11 “If a few people are wearing the Tallis simultaneously, each one says their own blessing each person is to say the blessing on his own, although if they want, they can choose to have one person say the blessing, and the remainder will listen and answer Amen.” 213:6 regarding if a Minyan is not present by Megillah reading, it is still better for one person to read and say the blessing on behalf of all; M”A ibid and Admur 8:11 and 213:6 never conditions being Yotzei with someone on a Minyan being present
The ruling in Admur here 489:1: Admur 489:1 writes that one may be Yotzei with the blessing of the Chazzan being that “As when there are ten Jews doing a Mitzvah together one Jew is able:allowed to say the blessing on behalf of all the congregants, as explained in 8:11.” This implies that if a Minyan is not present [ten Jews] then one may not be Yotzei, or is not allowed to be Yotzei, with another person’s blessing. This clearly contradicts the notion established in all the other sources in Admur and Poskim that a Minyan is never a prerequisite to being Yotzei a Mitzvah or blessing. To note that in M”A ibid, as well as 8:11 no mention is made of that this is limited to the presence of a Minyan. In truth however, one can explain as follows: Admur here in 489:1 never intended to say that a Minyan is required in order to be Yotzei. Rather the intention is to say that in order for it to be initially allowed to be Yotzei with another rather than say it on one’s own, one needs a Minyan present, as otherwise there is not as much of a Berov Am, and the advantage of increasing in necessary blessings overrides the advantage of Berov Am of less than a Minyan. Only when there is a Minyan do we say the advantage of Berov Am is equal to the advantage of increasing in necessary blessings, and hence there is no precedence to one over the other. [See Admur 213:6 for a discussion of the advantage of Berov Am versus the advantage of increasing in necessary blessings] On this Admur ibid intended to say that when there is a Minyan one can choose to be Yotzei with the Chazzan, as if there isn’t a Minyan it is better to say it oneself. See more sources for this distinction in next footnote.
 Admur 489:1 as explained in previous footnote; M”A 213:7 and Tosefta Brachos 6:20 “Ten people who are doing a Mitzvah together”, implying that less than ten does not contain Berov Am; This can also be implied from Admur 8:11 and Michaber 8:5 who rules “If a few people are wearing the Tallis simultaneously, each one says their own blessing each person is to say the blessing on his own, although if they want, they can choose to have one person say the blessing, and the remainder will listen and answer Amen.”, now from the fact that Admur:Michaber plainly stated that each one should say the blessing on their own implies that it is preferable.
 Admur 213:6; One interpretation of Tosefta Brachos 6:20; Or Zarua R”H 262; Mahram Merothnberg 7; Abudarham Seder Tefilos Shel Chol 3; So rule regarding Tzitzis: Admur 8:11; Michaber 8:5; Orchos Chaim Tzitzis 25; See M”A 213:7
 The advantage of fulfilling the blessing through one person is “Berov Am Hadras Melech”, (while the advantage of saying their own individual blessing is to personally say the blessing rather than be Yotzei through a messenger, and thus increase in blessings.) [See Admur 213:6]
 Admur 619:8 regarding Shehechiyanu, Birchas Hallel and Lulav “Although it is proper to be Yotzei with the Chazzan due to Berov Am, nevertheless today …. every person should recite the blessing himself”; M”A 619:3; Chayeh Adam 5:17; M”B 8:13 that so is custom; Piskeiy Teshuvos 213:2
The reason: As in majority of instances the Chazzan does not have in mind to be Motzi the congregation. Admur ibid; Chayeh Adam ibid; M”B ibid]
 Admur 489:12 regarding the Sefira; 213:4 (in parentheses) regarding all blessings [See however Admur 296:17; 6:9, explained below]; Rashba 1:458, brought in Beis Yosef 489, regarding blessings; Rama 489:3 regarding blessing of Sefira “If he had in mind to not be Yotzei”; M”A 489:8, explained in Machatzis Hashekel and P”M 489 A”A 8; Elya Raba 489:12; M”B 489:17 limits this ruling to only blessings [and not verbal Mitzvos]; Michaber 6:4 regarding Birchas Hashachar “They intend to not be Yotzei”; Tehila Ledavid 6:4 in understanding of Michaber ibid [See however Michaber 489:3 and M”B 48918 who implies one is not Yotzei unless he has Kavana to be Yotzei] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 489:8;
Source of Admur’s ruling: This ruling of Admur that one can fulfill a verbal Mitzvah through overhearing another is a novelty that is not explicitly recorded in Poskim prior to Admur. However, it is rooted in a response of the Rashba 1:458 regarding whether one may repeat a blessing after hearing it from the Chazzan, to which the Rashba answer’s that one may only do so if he had in mind to not be Yotzei, however if he had no Kavana then he is Yotzei according to those who rule that Mitzvos don’t need Kavana. This ruling of the Rashab is recorded and hinted to in the Michaber ibid and Rama ibid as well as the other Poskim. The novelty of Admur ibid is that he extends this ruling even to the Mitzvah of Sefira. It is possible to learn this way as well in the M”A ibid. as explained in the Machatzis Hashekel and P”M ibid.
 This dispute is recorded in Admur 489:12 regarding Sefiras HaOmer and 213:4 regarding all blessings “One is to suspect for their words and beware not to enter into a Safek Bracha Levatala.”
Some Poskim [Rashba Brachos 13b; Ran R”H 3 in name of Geonim] rule that Mitzvos do not need intention for one to fulfill his obligation even if they are of Biblical nature. Furthermore, even according to those Poskim [Bahag Brachos 2:7; Rif R”H 3; Rambam Shofar 2:4; Rosh R”H 3] who argue that Biblical Mitzvos require intention, today the Mitzvah of Sefira is Rabbinical, and there are Poskim who rule [Bach 475; M”A 60:3; Admur 60:5] that by a Rabbinical Mitzvah according to all one does not need intention. Hence according to these two groups of Poskim one has fulfilled his obligation upon overhearing the count, as one who hears is considered like one who said it himself. [Admur 489:12] However other Poskim [Peri Chadash 475:4; M”A 489:8; Admur 60:5] rule that even Rabbinical commands retain the same dispute as Biblical commands, and hence in their opinion one who did not have explicit intent does not fulfill his obligation with the Sefira that he overheard.
 Admur 489:12; 213:4; Implication of Rashba ibid
The reason: As one who hears is like one who said it. [Admur ibid] Accordingly, one is to be stringent like both opinions and hence is to repeat the Sefira [to suspect for the stringent opinion who rules that one is not Yotzei without intent] but without the blessing [in order to suspect for those opinions that rule one is Yotzei without intent].
Why is the blessing not recited due to Sfek Sfeka? Why is a blessing not allowed due to this case being a Sfek Sfeka of a blessing, as ruled in 489:24: The Sfek Sfeka is as follows: 1) Perhaps one must always count himself, as rules some Poskim in 489:1. 2) Even if one may hear someone else count, perhaps he must have intention to fulfill his obligation? Furthermore, in the case of Admur 489:12 a third doubt added, as it refers to one who heard the count by Bein Hashmashos, and hence perhaps it was not even night and he has not fulfilled his obligation according to all! Vetzaruch Iyun! Perhaps however one can answer that there is a difference between the forms of Sfek Sfekas in this case and in the case in 489:24 [as brought in Yoreh Deah 110-111, and ruled in Admur 438:9] that a Sfek Sfeka is only given value when the two doubts each come with a separate claim, and thus there are two different claims for why one may continue counting Sefira. When however, both doubts are making the same claim, that one was already Yotzei the Sefira, then we consider it all one doubt, and rule Safek Brachos Lihakel. Thus in 489:12 that all the doubts create the single claim of “he was already Yotzei”, it does not help to remove the Safek Brachos Lihakel rule from implementation. However, in 489:24 in which the doubts are two different claims [perhaps yesterday’s count was valid and even if it isn’t perhaps today’s count is valid] we implement the rule of Sfek Sfeka which overrides the Safek Bracha Lihakel.
Why is one required to repeat the count at all? Tzaruch Iyun why at all one must repeat the count if we rule that Safek Derabanan Lekula, and hence since there are Poskim that rule one fulfilled his obligation, why is the repetition required. Perhaps one can say that only in the case of Admur did he require the repetition to be made, as the case of Admur 489:12 deals with one who said or heard the Sefira by Bein Hashmashos, in which case there is a Sfek Sfeka as whether one is Yotzei or not. If, however one heard it by night, then perhaps Admur would rule that he does not even have to repeat the Sefira. This especially applies if one verbally said the Sefira at night and simply did not have in mind to be Yotzei, in which case there is only one doubt and hence one should not be required to repeat it. [see 489:14 that Admur rules one must repeat] Vetzaruch Iyun!
Contradiction from Admur 6:9: In 6:9 Admur rules that one may repeat Birchas Hashachar if he did not have in mind to fulfill his obligation. This is a change in wording from the Michaber 6:4 who says “They intend to not be Yotzei”. The wording of the Michaber ibid is based on the Rashba, while that of Admur is based on the Iggur. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol, as this seemingly contradicts the above ruling from 489:12 and 213:4 which does not allow one to repeat the blessing unless he had in mind to not be Yotzei as writes Michaber ibid. [Tehila Ledavid 6:4 asks this question and concludes with a Tzaruch Iyun Gadol] Some suggest the following explanation: By Birchas Hashevach, which is the case in 6:9, Admur holds one must have in mind to be Yotzei from another in order to fulfill his obligation, as otherwise it cannot be considered that he praised anyone. However, by Birchas Hanehenin or Mitzvos, according to one opinion even if he does not have in mind to fulfill his obligation he is nevertheless Yotzei. [Chikreiy Halachos 9:8]
Contradiction from Admur 296:17: In the end of 296:17 it is implied that if one does not have in mind to fulfill Havdala then he must repeat Havdala later. This seemingly contradicts the ruling that one possibly fulfills his obligation even if he simply heard a blessing without having in mind, and it is thus only questionable if he must repeat Havdala. See Tehila Ledavid 296:4 who raises this question. However seemingly the meaning here of Admur is as he wrote earlier in that same Halacha that “if one had in mind to not fulfill his obligation” and hence here too in the conclusion of the Halacha Admur’s intent is not that one did not have in mind to be Yotzei but rather that he had in mind to not be Yotzei.
 The case in Admur 489:12 refers to Bein Hashmashos; See Admur 489:12 who rules that if one counted by Plag Hamincha he is not to repeat the count later on with a blessing. However, in 489:15 Admur rules that if one accidently answered the count by Plag Hamincha, he is to count that night with a blessing, hence ruling that to forfeit the blessing by Plag Hamincha, one must have in mind to fulfill the Mitzvah.
 489:12 regarding Sefiras Haomer and so applies to all Brachos; Rama 489:3; M”A 489:8; Rashba ibid, brought in Beis Yosef 489; Michaber 6:4 “They intend to not be Yotzei”; Tehila Ledavid 6:4 in understanding of Michaber ibid
The reason this intent helps even according to those that rule the Mitzvos do not need intent: As even according to the opinion who holds that that Mitzvos do not need intent to fulfill ones obligation, if one specifically has in mind to not fulfill his obligation everyone agrees he is not Yotzei against his will. [Admur 489:12; Rama 489:3; M”A 489:8; Chok Yaakov 489:14] However it is not enough to simply have in mind to not have intention to fulfill his obligation with him; rather he must have in mind to not fulfill his obligation. [489:12]
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one fulfills his obligation even if he has in mind to not be Yotzei, as one cannot invalidate a Mitzvah he fulfills. [Elya Raba 489:13 based on Abudarham; Rieh, brought in Beis Yosef 589; See Kaf Hachaim 489:58]
 Meaning that he negated intent to be Yotzei but did not have intent to not be Yotzei.
 Admur 489:12
The reason: As having in mind to not be Yotzei does not help at all according to those who hold that one does not need to have in mind at all in order to be Yotzei. [Admur ibid]
 Yeshuos Moshe 3:49; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Yeshuos Moshe ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Yeshuos Moshe ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Divrei Nechemia 489:12; Yeshuos Moshe ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid and footnote 39
 The reason: Although based on Admur 489:12 one must have explicit intention to not fulfill his obligation, nevertheless, in this case it is not necessary, as the custom is for everyone to count immediately after the Chazzan and is hence exactly similar to the ruling in 489:14 regarding one who asks someone else what day it is, in which case we say that he is not Yotzei being that it is considered that the person had explicit intention to not fulfill his obligation with that person. The following is the ruling there which is exactly similar to the question at hand “The reason for this is because at the time of the hearing of this reply the questioner had intent to repeat the counting for himself to fulfill the Mitzvah, as that is precisely the motivation behind his query and subsequent hearing of the answer. Thus, in conclusion, it is considered that he explicitly had in mind to not fulfill his obligation with the hearing of the counting of the answerer. This is in contrast to the person who was asked and replied as he did not have explicit intent at the time of his reply that he desires to repeat the count later on afterwards. Thus, although in truth subconsciously the answerer did want to repeat the count, nevertheless since he did not have this explicitly on his conscious mind at that time, he has therefore fulfilled his obligation according to those who rule that Mitzvos don’t need intent.” [Admur ibid]
 Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 As one can only be Yotzei with another “If he heard from one who is obligated in this Mitzvah” [Admur 489:1] and a woman is not obligated in Sefiras Haomer. [Admur 489:2] Likewise, male children may be under debate if they are even obligated at all in this Mitzvah [See Halacha 2C!] and even if they are, their obligation is merely due to Chinuch. [See Michaber 689:2 based on Tana Kama in Megillah 19b and so rules: Rosh; Bahag; Levush; Bach; Olas Shabbos 689:3; Peri Chadash; Beis Yosef 689 in name of Levush; Peri Megadim 689 A”A 1; M”B 689:6; Kaf Hachaim 689:11]
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 489:8 based on Michaber Y.D. 274:1 regarding Leshma of Sefer Torah that it can extend for the entire duration of the writing [aside for the Azkaros]; See also Chelkas Yehoshua 4:4; Sefer Sefiras Haomer end of chapter 8
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