Rabbi David Stav, co-founder and chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinical Association, on Tuesday, issued a statement saying that “in light of the Corona’s economic crisis people need not refrain from buying new things throughout the entire Sefirat HaOmer period,” to support business owners. He also promotes celebrating weddings after Lag BaOmer, for the same reason.
Sefirat HaOmer is the verbal counting of each of the forty-nine days between the first day of Passover and Shavuot. According to the Shulchan Aruch, the period of counting the Omer is also a time of semi-mourning, during which traditional Jewish custom forbids haircuts, shaving, listening to instrumental music, or conducting weddings, parties, and dinners with dancing.
Traditionally, the reason cited is that this is in memory of a pandemic that killed Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students who were not respectful of one another. On Lag BaOmer, the thirty-third day of the Counting of the Omer is considered to be the day in which the pandemic was lifted, so on that day, the rules of mourning are lifted.
Rabbi Stav ruled this year that after Lag Ba’Omer, when some Jews continue to observe aspects of the mourning, weddings should be allowed to take place.
According to him, while the scope of the coronavirus crisis appears to be lessening due to the vaccination program, the economic impact remains a major concern for business owners and particularly event halls who are only now beginning to return to any normal pace of activity. In light of this, there is considerable concern that with the beginning of Sefirat HaOmer, those same business owners could experience additional significant financial harm.
This is why Rabbi Stav recommends easing the traditional religious prohibitions to prevent further financial losses to such businesses.
“This year, when Corona so directly impacted so many people within our community, we need to increase the empathy and solidarity for those who have lost so much,” Rabbi Stav reiterated. “Many of Ashkenazi descent are stringent and do not plan or attend weddings even after Lag Ba’omer. This year, when the owners of wedding halls are struggling under the burdens of the past year, it is fitting to be lenient in allowing these events to take place after Lag Ba’omer. In light of the difficult economic situation in which many businesses find themselves, it is worthy to increase purchasing from these business owners so that they can return that much more quickly to being profitable and earn a living with respect and personal pride.”