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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Q & A: Sefirat HaOmer – When To Start Counting (Part II)

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The obvious question is, when counting the omer on the second night of Pesach, the day has already been sanctified in the Amidah. How, therefore, can we subsequently “make it chol” by counting the omer? Is this not a case of “Where you have sanctified it, you may not now make it mundane”?

The answer is simple. One may theoretically count sefirah before davening Ma’ariv (as long as three stars have appeared). Therefore, even if a person davens Ma’ariv before sefirat ha’omer, we do not consider his Amidah as having sanctified the day. The same is true regarding the Seder on the second night of Pesach. A person can, in theory, count sefirah beforehand. Indeed, those who follow the custom of counting the omer with their family at the Seder – as is indicated in some haggadot – should do so before Kiddush, not after the Seder.

However, concerning this explanation of the Sha’ar Yissachar – “After you have made it mundane, you may subsequently sanctify it” – we have two questions: First, why don’t we first say Havdalah and then recite the sanctification of “mekaddesh Yisrael veha’zemanim” in Kiddush? Second, how does he deduce that one may count sefirah after the appearance of three stars but before Ma’ariv? Do we not have the rule of “Tadir veshe’eino tadir, tadir kodem” – that given the choice, a mitzvah that happens frequently takes precedence over a mitzvah that occurs only occasionally? Accordingly, how could one count sefirah, which is only seasonal, before Ma’ariv, which is a daily prayer?

Finally, how did the Sha’ar Yissachar deduce that “asito kodesh – once he sanctified it” only refers to Kiddush and the Seder? Why not Ma’ariv, which is usually recited before sefirat ha’omer?

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


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