web analytics
March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Sefirat HaOmer


Football’s 49ers rarely drop the ball. But how many of us make it through 49 nights from the second night of Pesach all the way to Shavuot without losing count? Sometimes we never even make it to the first yard line. We are so busy preparing for second night Seder that we miss evening prayers in shul and forget to count Day One.

Sefirat HaOmer, the counting of the forty-nine days, connects the festival of Pesach, which celebrates the Exodus, to the Festival of Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah. While still enslaved in Egypt, the Jews were told that following the Exodus, “Taavdun Elokim al hahar hazeh,” they would receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. The extra Hebrew letter “nun” appended to the word “Taavdun” was a message to the enslaved Jews that fifty days after the Exodus their status would be changed at Sinai from servants of Pharaoh to servants of God. In anticipation of the Revelation, the Jews began to count fifty days toward Shavuot.

Sefirat HaOmer is linked to three concepts: (1) the omer sacrifice, (2) chadash or new grain and (3) the two loaves of bread brought on Shavuot as a first harvest offering to God, bikurim l’Hashem.

The omer sacrifice: On the evening preceding the 16th day of Nissan, the Jews of Temple times would go out into the fields and cut sheaves of barley. The barley would then be ground into flour and brought to the Temple on the 16th day together with a male lamb in its first year.

Chadash: Until the omer sacrifice was brought on the eve of the sixteenth of Nissan of the current year as described, it was prohibited to harvest barley, wheat, oats, rye and spelt crops which had been planted or had taken root after the sixteenth of Nissan of the previous year. Such forbidden crops were called chadash and could be harvested and eaten only after the completion of the omer sacrifice.

Bikurim: On the festival of Shavuot the first harvest wheat offering was brought consisting of two loaves of baked bread together with seven sheep, one bull and two rams.

The Torah (Leviticus 23:9-18) asks us to begin counting seven complete weeks starting on the evening of the omer sacrifice. The Rambam explains that seven weeks were required to raise the Jewish nation out of the depths of despondency to which they had sunk during their slavery. Whereas one week is sufficient to restore an individual to his natural state of divine purity, the entire nation required seven weeks.

The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk. The bikurim sacrifice of wheat baked bread, symbolizes the refined spiritual heights they reached by Shavuot. After the destruction of the Temple, the omer sacrifice became inapplicable.

What about chadash? Is one permitted to harvest or eat chadash prior to the day the omer Sacrifice would have been offered had the Temple not been destroyed? And what about Sefirat HaOmer? If it is linked to the omer sacrifice, why has it survived the destruction of the Temple? Whether or not chadash applies outside Israel depends on the interpretation of the words “bechol moshvoteichem” in the verse (Leviticus 23:14) which prohibits chadash “in all your dwellings.”

According to the rabbis (Kiddushin 47a), the words “in all your dwellings” do not apply outside the land of Israel but rather to the land of Israel after the first fifteen years of its conquest and division by Joshua. According to Rabbi Eliezer, however, the words “bechol moshvoteichem” give chadash a worldwide application even today.

Rabbi Eliezer’s view is adopted by most of the Rishonim. The Shulchan Aruch rules that chadash applies inside and outside Israel and to Jewish and non-Jewish-owned lands. Nevertheless, based on the Rema as clarified by the Shach, one may eat chadash outside of Israel on the strength of the halachic rule of double doubt and the halachic rule of the majority.

The double doubt is as follows: (a) perhaps the grain took root in the previous year, and (b) even if not, it can be assumed that the grain took root at least in time before the 16th of Nissan. The rule of the majority is that most grain has been stored for a long time and comes from previous year’s crops. As for Sefirat HaOmer, the majority opinion (with which the Rambam disagrees) is that it has no biblical application today and was instituted by the rabbis zecher leMikdash, in memory of the Temple.

About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.


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 “Sefirat HaOmer”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Iran’s Zarif Paints Iran as a Lamb, Israel as the Lion
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

To the glee of all Israel haters it was Netanyahu who was accused of endangering US-Israel relations

Ki Tisa_lecture

Over and over, the text tells us about “keeping” Shabbat, about holiness, and a covenant – but why?

Aaron and  The Golden Calf by James Tissot

Aharon’s guilt with the golden calf is not clear-cut. What if Moshe were in his brother’s place?

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Moreover, even if the perpetrator of the capital offense is never actually executed, such as when the fatal act was unintentional, Kam Lei applies and the judge cannot award damages.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

One of the purposes of the ketubah money is to make it difficult for a husband to capriciously divorce his wife.

A more difficult situation arises when there is no evidence placing the missing husband at the site of the death.

The court cannot solely rely on death certificates issued by non-Jewish institutions without conducting its own investigation into the facts of the case.

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

The child of a Jewish mother from a union with a non-Jewish father is not a mamzer.

Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.

If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/sefirat-haomer/2013/04/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: