web analytics
July 3, 2015 / 16 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Two Aspects of the Mitzva of Counting the Omer

In Israel, the Egged Buses help count the Omer.

In Israel, the Egged Buses help count the Omer.
Photo Credit: Batya Medad

The mitzva of sefirat ha-omer (counting the omer) is mentioned in the Torah in two places. In Parashat Emor we read:

And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering; seven complete sabbaths shall there be: to the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you count fifty days, and you shall bring a new meal offering to the Lord. (Vayikra 23:15-16)

In Parashat Re’eh we find:

Seven weeks shall you count; from such time as you begin to put the sickle to the corn shall you commence to count seven weeks. And you shall keep the feast of weeks… (Devarim 16:9-10)

The main talmudic discussion of this mitzva is found in Menachot 65-66. The Gemara there brings a dispute between Abaye and Ameimar whether one must count both the days and the weeks:

Abaye said: The mitzva is to count the days and also to count the weeks. The Rabbis of the school of Rav Ashi used to count the days as well as the weeks.

Ameimar used to count the days but not the weeks, saying: It is only a reminder of the Temple. (Menachot 66a)

In the Rishonim we find three different understandings of the dispute. According to one opinion, the entire discussion relates to Torah law. That is to say, Abbayei and Ameimar disagree as to what the Torah commands, with Ameimar arguing that even Torah law distinguishes between days and weeks.

A second position maintains that the entire discussion relates to the Rabbinic level. That is to say, Abaye and Ameimar disagree about what exactly the Sages instituted as a reminder of the Temple, and what exactly is meant by a reminder of the Temple. “A reminder of the Temple” can be understood to mean a commemoration of the destruction of the Temple, as proposed by the Ba’al Ha-Ma’or. If so, there is room to understand that the Rabbis only instituted part of the mitzvafor future generations, and therefore Ameimar maintains that we count only the weeks. Abaye, on the other hand, can maintain one of the two following positions. He might understand that “a reminder of the Temple” means a reminder of the Temple when it was standing, as is the case with respect to the various enactments of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, and therefore the mitzva for all generations is to count both weeks and days.

A second possibility is that Abaye agrees with Ameimar that a reminder of the Temple means a reminder of the destruction, but he sees no reason to distinguish between the obligation to count the weeks and the obligation to count the days. Accordingly, the Sages enacted that the mitzvabe performed just as it had been performed in the Mikdash.

This shiur, however,will focus on a third position, that of Rabbeinu Yerucham. Rabbeinu Yerucham (5:4) maintains that these two aspects constitute fulfillment of two separate mitzvot. One mitzva relates to the omer offering from which the counting begins, and this is the mitzva to count the weeks. A second mitzva connects Pesach to Shavuot, and this is the mitzva to count the days. Rabbeinu Yerucham argues that it follows from this that two separate blessings should be recited over these two different mitzvot. This was all true during the period that the Temple stood, but today, when there is no Mikdash, and therefore there is no omer offering, what is left is only the mitzva to count the days, and only upon that is a blessing recited.

The Rambam, in his Sefer Ha-mitzvot (asei 161), raises this notion as a possibility:

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Two Aspects of the Mitzva of Counting the Omer”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
UN Human Rights Council
UN HRC Condemns Israel (But Not Hamas) for War Crimes
Latest Indepth Stories
Jelgava Synagogue, Latvia

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

United Nations Building, New York City

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Zuckerman-070315

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

wedding cake

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?

Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach

The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi

The president described the attack as “an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…”

“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me,” said the 69-year-old Trump.

And whereas at the outset the plan was that Iran would have to surrender most of its centrifuges, it will now be able to retain several thousand.

Now oil independent, US no longer needs its former strategic alliances with Gulf States-or Israel

In addition to the palace’s tremendous size it was home to the “hanging gardens,” which were counted among the seven wonders of the ancient world.

More Articles from Yeshivat Har Etzion
Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut, Israel.

According to the Maharal, Sedomites’ inability to perform chesed catalyzed their fall into a pit of immorality.

The Kotel in Jerusalem, Israel on Dec. 14, 2013.

There are two elements to the name “Jerusalem,” which must be unified for the City to exist.

Rav Soloveitchik asserted that Shavuot is sanctified not only by the court’s counting, but even by the individual’s counting.

The question of Jewish identity, for example, has been greatly affected by the legacy of the Holocaust.

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

The sacred flames of passion between the Jewish people and the Almighty expressed in Shir Ha-Shirim.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/two-aspects-of-the-mitzva-of-counting-the-omer/2014/05/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: