How to count

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How to count:

Counting in numbers versus letters?[1]

One is to count the Sefira in number digits [אחד, שתים] as opposed to letters [i.e. א, ב, ג]. If one counted in letters and not in numbers, such as he said “Today is Alef or Beis or Gimel of the Omer[2]”, then it is disputed[3] as to whether he fulfilled his obligation. Practically, one is to repeat the count without a blessing.[4] [If one did not do so, he may nevertheless continue counting with a blessing the following nights.[5]]


What is the law if one counted in Roshei Teivos/Abbreviations?[6]

In the above Halacha, Admur concludes that one who counted in letters is subject to a dispute in Poskim and is thus to recount without a blessing. The question raised is asked as to what is the definition of letters, is it limited to letter abbreviations [example 1] or does the dispute extend even to word abbreviations [example 2].

Ø  Example 1: One said on the 33rd night “Today is Lamed Gimel Baomer”

Ø  Example 2: One said on the 33rd night “Today is Lag Baomer”

Letter abbreviation-Example 1:[7] One who counted that night in a letter abbreviation, such as instead of saying thirty-three he said the letters Lamed Gimel, then it is subject to the same dispute mentioned above regarding one who counted in letters, and he is to recount that night without a blessing, but may continue to count the future nights with a blessing, even if he did not recount.

Word abbreviation-Example 2: One who counted in a word abbreviation of the number night, such as instead of saying thirty-three, and instead of saying the letters Lamed Gimel, he said the word Lag, is not subject to the above mentioned dispute, and he does not fulfill his obligation and is to recount with a blessing.[8] Some Poskim[9] however rule that he fulfills his obligation even in such a case according to the lenient opinion above, [so long as the word abbreviation is commonly used for that number[10]].[11] Practically, according to Admur it is implied that he must repeat the count with a blessing in all cases of word abbreviations.[12] [Accordingly, if one counted using a word abbreviation and did not recount properly, he may no longer continue counting with a blessing.]


What is the law if one counted in Gematrios?

Ø  Example: One said on the 17th that “Today is Tovטוב/ Baomer”. [Tov is the Gemtaria of 17.]

This matter is subject to the same law as the second example of the previous Q&A, in which we concluded that although some Poskim[13] rule it is a valid count, others argue, and it is implied from Admur that it is invalid and one must recount with a blessing. Accordingly, if one counted using a word abbreviation and did not recount properly, he may no longer continue counting with a blessing.


What is the law if prior to counting one unintentionally said “Today is Lag Baomer”, may he count that night with a blessing?

He may count that night with a blessing. See first Q&A above and Halacha 13 for further details.


What is the law if one counted in a mathematical equation, such as he said on the 5th night 6 minus 1?

Some Poskim[14] rule he fulfills his obligation. [The same applies if he counted by saying “Today is 4 plus five days”.[15]]


What is the law if one wrote the Sefira?[16]

Some Poskim[17] rule that writing is unlike verbalizing, and one hence cannot fulfill his obligation through writing the Sefira.[18] Accordingly, one who wrote the Sefira, must still count that night with a blessing. Other Poskim[19] however rule that writing the Sefirah is valid.[20] Practically, one is to recount without a blessing.[21] If one counted in writing and did not recount properly, he may nevertheless continue counting with a blessing on the future nights.[22]


If one counted in his dream does he fulfill his obligation?[23]



What is the law if one said the word Rishon versus Echad?

Initially one is to use the term Echad rather than Rishon when counting.[24] Nevertheless, one who counted on the first night using the term Rishon, such as “Hayom Rishon Laomer”, fulfills his obligation.[25] Some[26] however suggest that the term Rishon/first is not the same as Echad/one, and one hence does not fulfill his obligation if he casually told someone “Today is the first day of the Omer”. If, however he intends to count the day using the term Rishon, then according to all he fulfills his obligation.[27]


Saying the word “Hayom/Today”:[28]

One must say the word “Hayom/Today is” prior to counting the days. If one counted the amount of days without [first] saying “Hayom/Today is” [i.e. he plainly said “6 days to the Omer”], he does not fulfill his obligation and must thus repeat the counting with a blessing.[29]


Saying the word “Laomer”:[30]

The custom is to conclude the daily counting with the word “LaOmer”.[31] If one counted the day, but did not conclude with the word “Laomer”, he nevertheless fulfills his obligation.[32]

The dialect: Some[33] say the dialect of “Laomer” while others[34] say the dialect of “Baomer.” Practically, every dialect is to be respected, as both are correct. (Some[35] are accustomed, due to reasons known to them, to say “Laomer” in between the counting of the days and weeks, such as “Today is 8 days to the Omer, which is one week and one day”.) [The Chabad custom, as written in the Siddur, is to recite LaOmer at the conclusion of the count of both the days and weeks. The Sefaradi custom is to say Laomer. The Ashkenazi custom is to say Baomer. Some[36] are accustomed to count twice, one time using the word Baomer, and the second time using the word Laomer.]


When to use the word “Yamim” and when to use the word “Yom”:[37]

According to the correct grammar of Lashon Hakodesh, one says “Yamim” in plural when counting the 2nd through the 10th day, including the 10th. However, from the 11th day and onwards one says the word “Yom” in singular. [The Chabad custom, as written in the Siddur, is to recite Yom starting from the 11th day.] 


Preceding the smaller number:[38]

The number twenty-one and onwards is composed of two numbers, a large number [i.e. twenty] and small number [i.e. one]. In those countries that people are accustomed to recite the smaller number first [i.e. one-twenty] it is proper by the Sefira for one to say the smaller number first. For example, on the 21st day they are to count “Today is one and twenty days” and not “Twenty-one days”. However, in those provinces that people are accustomed to count the larger number first, they are to count in the order that they are accustomed. [The Chabad custom, as written in the Siddur, is to recite the smaller day first.]  


Male versus female tense:[39]

The term “Shavua” is in male tense. Therefore, one is to also count the number of weeks in male tense. For example, [at the end of the first week and onwards] one is to say “Shavua Echad” in contrast to “Shavua Achas”, and by the 2nd week “Shneiy Shavuos” in contrast to “Shteiy Shavuos”, and by the 3rd week “Shlosha Shavuos” in contrast to “Shalosh” and so on and so forth for each week.


The prayers said after the Sefira:[40]

After the counting of the Sefira it is customary to recite “Yehi Ratzon Sheyibaneh Beis Hamikdash etc”[41] (Some are accustomed for reasons known to them to say after this prayer the Psalm of “Elokim Yichaneinu Vivarcheinu”, Ana Bekoach, and Ribono Shel Olam.[42]) [Practically, so is the ruling of the Siddur and the Chabad custom. Some are accustomed to recite Lesheim Yichud or Hareini Muchan Umezuman prior to counting the Sefira.[43] This is not the Chabad custom.]


The Kavana:[44]

When counting Sefira one is to have in mind the Sefira of that night, one word of the Ana Bechoach, and one word of the psalm Mizmor Elokim Yechoneinu, and one letter from the verse Yismachu. [It is unclear if these intents are to be held while counting the Sefira, before one counts, or after the count, while reciting the Mizmor.[45]]


[1] Admur 489/7; Olas Shabbos 489/1; Chok Yaakov 489/8; Elya Raba 489/5; Chok Yosef 489/9; Sheilas Yaavetz 139 “I am truly in doubt regarding this case, and therefore one is to repeat the count without a blessing.”; Siddur Yaavetz 12; Birkeiy Yosef 489/9; Siddur Beis Oveid 11; Beir Heiytiv 489/6; Shaareiy Teshuvah 489/6; Kaf Hachaim 489/24

[2] So is the example in Admur ibid; Examples in other Poskim: Lamed Gimel [Kneses Hagedola/Maharash Halevi] Yud Daled [Chok Yaakov ibid] Daled [Maharshal]; Daled or Ches [Peri Chadash] Beis or Gimel [Kaf Hachaim 489/24] See Olas Shabbos ibid;

[3] Some Poskim [Kneses Hagedola 489; Get Pashut E.H. 126/73] rule one fulfills his obligation. Other Poskim [Peri Chadash 489/1; Maharash Levi 5; Opinion in Kneses Hagedola ibid; Sakina Charifta 20] rule one does not fulfill his obligation. [Admur ibid] Other Poskim rule that if he counted with a blessing then he is Yotzei even if he counted in numbers, while if he counted without a blessing, counting in numbers is invalid. [Rashal, brought in Get Pashut ibid-negated by Get pashut ibid and omitted by Admur ibid]

[4] Vetzaruch Iyun why we don’t say this is a case of Sfek Sfeika and allow him to count with a blessing, as one who counts only the days without the weeks it is disputed if he fulfills his obligation. However, in truth one can explain that we already ruled leniently in that dispute and it is hence no longer considered a Sfek Sfeika, although this would not explain the law in a case when it was the end of the week and one said Yud Daled and did not say the weeks, in which case it is a true dispute, and certainly can create a Sfeik Sfeika. Perhaps one can answer that in truth in such a case Admur ibid would agree that a blessing may be said, or alternatively he would still hold one is to say it without a blessing being that the two doubts are all on the same Tzad and is hence viewed like one doubt. This will be elaborated on in further footnotes.

[5] See Admur 489/25; Olas Shabbos 489/1; M”B 489/38; Kaf Hachaim 489/24; See Halacha 22 for the full discussion on this matter.

[6] See PT 489/11; The following Poskim differentiate between letter abbreviations and word abbreviations: Sheilas Yaavetz 139; Siddur Yaavetz 11-12; Birkeiy Yosef 489/9-10; Shalmei Tzibur; Beis Oveid; Shaareiy Teshuvah 489/6; Kaf Hachaim 489 24 and 26

[7] This case of counting Lag Baomer in abbreviations is actually the original case of argument recorded in the Kneses Hagedola and Maharash Halevi. Admur ibid however changed the case example from Lag Baomer to the first few days. See next. Sheilas Yaavetz 139 “I am truly in doubt regarding this case of letter abbreviations, and therefore one is to repeat the count without a blessing.”

[8] Implication of Admur ibid as explained below; Sheilas Yaavetz 139; Siddur Yaavetz Halacha 11; Birkeiy Yosef 489/9 “I lean towards this opinion, however it’s good to recount without a blessing”, brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid

The reason: As abbreviated words are not numbers, despite one’s intent, as normal people do not use these terms to describe a number. [Sheilas Yaavetz ibid] For example, the word Lag is not used as a number at all, but is rather the name of a holiday. Would one be Yotzei if he said on the 5th of Iyar that today is Chag Haatzmaut, or if he said on the last day of Pesach that today is Acharon Shel Pesach? He has not said a number at all, but rather a title for the day. Would one be Yotzei if on day 49 he said “Meit Baomer” [Meit means a dead person]. These are all words and not numbers and hence cannot be interpreted as an abbreviated number even if one intends to count using its Gematria. [Sheilas Yaavetz ibid] 

[9] Get Pashut ibid; Kneses Hagedola ibid as understood by Sheilas Yaavetz ibid, and Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid, and Kaf Hachaim ibid; and Piskiey Teshuvos 489/11; [however not listed by Birkeiy Yosef ibid to hold this way]

[10] Implication of Get Pashut ibid, however it is possible to also learn that he holds one fulfills his obligation in all cases of word abbreviations, Vetzaruch Iyun]

[11] The reason: As all terms that have become known to man to refer or symbolize a number, have the status of a number in that language. Furthermore, it is possible to learn in the above opinion that all word abbreviations are valid, as once it has become common to count using word abbreviations, it validates all word abbreviations. [See Get Pashut ibid]

[12] The implication of Admur ibid: Admur ibid in his recording of the dispute changed the case of the Kneses Hagedola and other Poskim from Lag Baomer [case in Kneses Hagedola and Maharash Halevi], or Yad Baomer [Case in Chok Yaakov ibid] to Alef or Beis or Gimel. From the fact Admur changed the case from a word abbreviation to a letter abbreviation implies that he learned that the entire dispute of the Poskim is only in a case of a letter abbreviation, while a word abbreviation is invalid according to all. If Admur in truth held the dispute applied even to word abbreviations, then why did he not make that clear, and leave it for speculation, and why did he specifically go out of his way and change the case of the Poskim from a possible word abbreviation to a definite letter abbreviation. Furthermore, there is a second wondrous change of wording in Admur versus the previous Poskim, and that is the term “Osiyos/letters” versus Roshei Teivos. All the other Poskim describe the case as one who counted in Roshei Teivos [See Kneses Hagedola ibid; Maharash Halevi ibid; Get Pashut ibid; Peri Chadash ibid; Sheilas Yaavetz ibid; Beir Heiytiv ibid; Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid; Biur Halacha ibid] while Admur changes this wording and writes “Osiyos/letters” instead of Rosheiy Teivos. Now, the Yaavetz ibid and Birkeiy Yosef ibid, both explicitly differentiate between a case of counting in Roshei Teivos and a case of counting in Osiyos, and it is hence clearly implied from Admur’s changed wording that holds like the Yaavetz and Chida that one who counts in Roshei Teivos is not Yotzei at all, and it is not subject to the debate. This understanding is not contradicted in the above Poskim who debated the question of abbreviations, as they did not make it clear if the case in discussion was a letter abbreviation or word abbreviation, and it is possible to learn in them either way. However, it is clear from Sheilas Yaavetz ibid and other Poskim ibid that they understood the Kneses Hagedola to refer to even word abbreviations.  

[13] Get Pashut ibid explicitly mentions Gematrios, such as the word Tov for the 17th day; See also Kneses Hagedola ibid

[14] Beir Heiytiv 489/6 in name of Yad Aharon and Mahariy Malko; Beir Moshe 3/82; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489/11

[15] Rivivos Efraim 1/330; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489/11

[16] See Kaf Hachaim 489/27-28 and 84; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489/11; See Admur 47/3 regarding Birchas Hatorah

[17] 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

[18] The reason: This is similar to one who writes a Mezuzah or Tefillin who cannot fulfill the Mitzvah of reading Shema with writing it alone. [ibid]

[19] 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

[20] The reason: This follows the same ruling as Birchas Hatorah, of which some Poskim rule one can be Yotzei with writing Torah. [ibid]

[21] Beis Oveid 14; Kaf Hachaim 489/28; See dispute in Admur 47/3 regarding Birchas Hatorah, and it seems Admur’s conclusion is to suspect for both opinions. Accordingly, the same would apply in this case as well

[22] See Admur 489/25 and Halacha 22; Zichron Yehuda 146; Yabia Omer 4/43 Piskeiy Teshuvos 489/21

[23] Lev Chaim 3/26; Tzitz Eliezer 20/27; Orchos Chaim 489; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489/11

[24] Pardes Yosef Parshas Emor 13/15 in name of Divrei Shaul; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489/5

The reason: This is to negate the opinion of the Sadducees who held the first day of Sefira is on a Sunday. []

[25] Orchos Chaim Spinka 489/8 in name of Meoreiy Or; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489/5

[26] See Orchos Rabbeinu p. 112 in name of Chazon Ish that one who said to his friend that “Today is the first day of the Omer” may recount with a blessing.

[27] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 21 in explanation of Chazon Ish, Upashut

[28] 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]

[29] The reason: As since he plainly stated a random amount of days without mentioning its connection to the current days, it is invalid, as the Torah states “Count 50 days” which means that the day itself must be counted by one saying “Today is such and such day” [Admur ibid]

[30] Admur 489/7; M”A 489/10

[31] The reason: This is done in order to express the matter that one is counting for. [Admur ibid]

[32] Admur 489/7 and 14; M”A ibid; Chok Yaakov 489/15; Chok Yosef 489/19; Chayeh Adam 131/7; M”B 489/21; Kaf Hachaim 489/56

The reason: The reason for this is because from the letter of the law there is no need at all to mention that the counting is from “the Omer” and it is only done in order to express what one is counting for, and it is thus not invalidating at all Bedieved. [Admur ibid]

[33] Arizal; Shelah; Nussach Sefarad

[34] Rama 489/1; Gr”a; Minhag Ashkenaz

[35] Siddur Arizal; Siddur Yaavetz; brought in Admur ibid in parentheses

[36] Mishmeres Shalom 36/3; Orchos Rabbeinu 2/92

[37] Admur 489/8; Shivlei Haleket 234; Chok Yaakov 489/10

[38] Admur 489/8; M”A 489/5

[39] Admur 489/9; M”A 489/5; Taz 489/4

[40] Admur 489/11; Tosafus Megillah 20b; Bach 489; Chok Yaakov 489/11; M”B 489/10; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 489/10

[41] The reason: being that in today’s times we are only counting in memory of the Mikdash, and the counting in it of itself does not constitute a Mitzvah at all. As the Mitzvah is to count from the Omer and today we do not have an Omer from which to count, and the Sages simply instituted the counting in memory of the Mikdash. Therefore we Daven to Hashem at this time that he builds the Beis Hamikdash and allow us to fulfill the Mitzvah properly. [ibid]

The Nussach: This is the dialect of Admur in the Shulchan Aruch ibid, however in the Siddur the Nussach is “Harachamn Hu Yachzir Lanu Avodas Beis Hamikdash Lemikomah Bemiheira Biyameinu Amen Selah.” This follows the wording of the Abudarham.

[42] Admur ibid in parentheses; based on Peri Eitz Chaim and Siddur Arizal; See Siddur of Rav Raskin footnote 18

Other opinions: Some Poskim severely negate the recital of these parts. [Chok Yaakov 489/11 based on Maharshal 98; Aruch Hashulchan 489/10]

[43] See Yesod Veshoresh Havoda 9/8; Mishmeres Shalom 36/2; Orchos Chaim 489/4; Shaar Yissachar Nissan Omer Hatenufa 17; Darkei Chaim Vehsalom 625; Dvar Moshe 29; Kaf Hachaim 489/7; Noda Beyehuda Kama Y.D. 93; Piskeiy Teshuyvos ibid footnotes 46-49

[44] Siddur Admur

[45] Mishnas Chassidim Haomer 8/2 writes these intents are to be held while saying the Mizmor; See Siddur of Rav Raskin footnote 11

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1 Comment

  1. Michael

    If on the 1st day of sefiras haomer, he say “Hayom yom rishon b’Shabbos” [which we say in davening], is he yotzi sefiras haomer – or is he not yotzi since his intention was for a totally different inyan?

    Or if he said “Today is the 1st day that I am wearing this sweater” or some other random statement, is he yotzi Sefiras haomer? [i.e., he can no longer count with a bracha that night)

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