Women counting Sefiras Haomer

 

Women:[1]
Women are exempt from the Mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer.[2] [Likewise, based on Kabala, women are not able to fulfill this Mitzvah.[3]] However in certain provinces[4] women have accepted this Mitzvah upon themselves as a complete obligation.[5] [In such provinces, the women are obligated to count due to this custom.[6]] [Practically, the Chabad custom is for women to recite Sefiras HaOmer.[7] Likewise, due to other reasons, all women should recite Sefiras Haomer in the beginning of the night even if they have missed a day and can no longer say a blessing, as it is possible that they must refrain from work throughout the entire night until they do so.[8] The husbands should remind their wives to recite the Sefira each night.[9]]

Blessing:[10] All women who choose to recite Sefiras HaOmer may say a blessing prior to saying it [if they have not missed any previous days, as is the law by men].[11]

 

Summary:
Women are to count Sefiras Haomer each night, in the beginning of the night, and are to be reminded by their husbands to do so. This applies even if they already missed a day. If they have not missed a day, they may count at night with a blessing.

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[1] 489/2; M”A 489/1; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 489/7

Other opinions: Some Poskim hold that the Mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer is not considered a time dependent command, and women are hence obligated in the Mitzvah. [Ramban Kiddushin 34a; See Avnei Nezer 384; See Divrei Malkiel 3/5 that this is a misprint in Ramban] The reason for this is because the Mitzvah is dependent on the Omer sacrifice and not on a specific time. [Shitas Hakamonim Baba Kama p. 334; Kinyan Torah 4/44 based on Turei Even Megillah 20b] Alternatively, it is because women are obligated in Matzah and Chametz, and are hence also obligated in the Mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer, which begins during Pesach. [Avnei Nezer ibid] See also Mikraeiy Kodesh 2/67 and Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

Slaves: Slaves are exempt from the Mitzvah just like women. [Admur 489/2]

[2] Admur ibid; M”A ibid; Rambam Temidim Umusafim 7/24; Chinuch 306

The reason: As this Mitzvah is a time dependant command, of which women are exempt. [Admur ibid] This is learned from the verse “Lemaan Tihiyeh Toras Hashem Bificha” that is written regarding Tefillin which teaches that the entire Torah is connected to the Mitzvah of Tefillin. Now just like women and slaves are exempt from wearing Tefillin, due to the reason explained in 38/3, and Tefillin is a time dependent Mitzvah, as the Mitzvah of Tefillin does not apply on Shabbos and Yom Tov, so too from here we learn that all time dependent Mitzvos women and slaves are exempt from, with exception to some specific Mitzvos. [Admur 17/1; Levush 17/2]

[3] M”A ibid based on Zohar Tetzaveh and Emor p. 97b “The 50 days are days of the male world, and are given only to men”; brought also in Birkeiy Yosef 489/22; Daas Torah 489/1; Avnei Nezer 384; Kaf Hachaim 489/9; Rav Poalim 1/12 based on Kaballah

[4] So writes Admur ibid; However see M”A ibid who writes “Although women are exempt, the women have already accepted the Mitzvah upon themselves as an obligation.” He does not distinguish between provinces, and certainly does not limit it to certain provinces as writes Admur ibid. The M”B 489/3 writes that in these provinces women are not accustomed to count Sefira at all. In the home of the Steplier women would count Sefiras Haomer. [Orchos Rabbeinu 2/92

[5] Admur ibid; M”A ibid; Chok Yaakov 489/3; Elya Raba 489/2

Other opinions: Some Poskim question the above ruling, stating that there is no source for saying that women accpeted this Mitzvah upon themselves as an obligation. [Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 306]

[6] See regarding Shofar and Lulav: Admur 17/3; Shut Rav Akiva Eiger 1 Hashmatos; Ashel Avraham Butchach 689 and Mahadurah Tinyana 592

[7] Hiskashrus; Otzer Minhagei Chabad Nissan p. 254

[8] See Admur 493/9; brought in Halacha 5!

[9] See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 35

[10] Admur ibid

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that women are not to count with a blessing. [Shulchan Shlomo brought in M”B 489/3; Kaf Hachaim 489/9] As they will certainly miss a certain night and hence even initially we know their counting is incomplete. [Shulchan Shlomo ibid] To note however that according to the Rebbe’s explanation of the dispute in 489/23 that in truth all agree that each day is a separate Mitzvah, and missing a day only holds the future days in question, there is no worry whatsoever if the women miss a future day as it has no affect, according to any opinion on the previous Mitzvos fulfilled. [Se Likkutei Sichos 1/270]

Other oopinions and Sefaradi custom: According to the Sefaradic custom, women are not to say the blessing. [Kaf Hachaim ibid] In addition to the above-mentioned issue, some Poskim rule that women may never recite a blessing over any Mitzvah that they are not obligated in. [Michaber 589/6; Beis Yosef 589; Rambam Hilchos Tzitzis; Igur in name of Reb Yeshaya; Rashi, brought in Hagahos on Rambam] The Michaber ibid rules that they cannot say a blessing as Safek Brachos Lihakel. [Beis Yosef 589] The Birkeiy Yosef ibid states that after seeing the answer from heaven in Shut Min hashamayim he retracted his ruling like the Michaber and would tell women to recite a blessing. He concludes that if the Michaber would have seen the Shut Min Hashamayim certainly he too would have retracted his ruling.

[11] The reason: There is no worry of prohibition involved for women to recite a blessing on Sefiras Haomer despite the fact that they are exempt, as explained in 17/3. [Admur ibid] The reason for this is because men are commanded in this Mitzvah and when a woman performs a command that she is exempt from fulfilling, although she is not rewarded as much as one who was commanded, nevertheless she does receive some reward. For this reason they are permitted to recite a blessing over all the Mitzvos that they are exempt from, if the Mitzvah is performed properly, in a way that a man would fulfill his obligation. [Admur 17/3]

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