Sefirat HaOmer

Mo’edim: Sefirat HaOmer – Counting of the Omer

Spring Barley. Image credit: Unknown

Shalom, everyone! Sefirat HaOmer or the “Counting of the Omer” is the verbal counting of each of the days between the first yom tov (day of rest) of the Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) and Shavuot (Feast of Weeks). The Almighty commanded in the Torah that the Nation of Yisra’el were to begin counting the days from the day that the first sheaf offering was waved before Him:

“And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the day of rest, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the waving; seven weeks shall there be complete; even unto the morrow after the seventh week shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall present a new meal-offering unto Y-H-W-H.” – Leviticus 23:15-16

In ancient times, the first sheaf of the barley harvest, the first-fruits, was waved as an offering on the day after the first day of rest of Chag HaMatzot, the 16th of Nisan (Aviv). Until this wave offering was brought, consumption of bread, parched grain or fresh grain from the new harvest was forbidden (Leviticus 23:9-14). The counting of the omer would continue for 49 days; the 50th day is the holiday of Shavuot.

For the duration of Sefirat HaOmer, the Nation of Yisra’el were commanded to bring an Omer-measure of barley and a lamb as a communal offering to The Almighty. This practice continued until the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. From that time onward until the present day, the counting now begins each day at 30 minutes after sunset by reciting a special blessing and then stating the Omer count in terms of days, and then the total count in the number of weeks and days.

Sefirat HaOmer represents a time of spiritual preparation for and anticipation of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai on Shavuot. Each day of the count represents an additional elevation of our souls from the lowly status of being in slaves in Egypt, to the higher status of being a free citizen of an independent kingdom ruled by The Almighty.


How to Count the Omer

The blessing recited before counting the omer is as follows:

“Blessed are you, YHVH Eloheinu, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the omer.”

The blessing is then followed by the stating the omer count in terms of days, and then the total count in the number of weeks and days, incrementing each day, The count of the Omer will continue daily, incrementing the number of days and weeks for 49 days. The 50th day is the evening of Shavuot. For example, the count of the omer is made as follows:

  • On Day 1 (Nisan 16): Today is the first day of the Omer;
  • On Day 2 (Nisan 17): Today is two days of the Omer;
  • On Day 3 (Nisan 18): Today is three days of the Omer
  • On Day 4 (Nisan 19): Today is four days of the Omer
  • On Day 5 (Nisan 20): Today is five days of the Omer
  • On Day 6 (Nisan 21): Today is six days of the Omer
  • On Day 7 (Nisan 22): Today is seven days, which is one week of the Omer;
  • On Day 8 (Nisan 23): Today is eight days, which is one week and one day of the Omer;
  • On Day 9 (Nisan 24): Today is nine days, which is one week and two days of the Omer;
  • On Day 10 (Nisan 25): Today is ten days, which is one week and three days of the Omer;
  • On Day 11 (Nisan 26): Today is eleven days, which is one week and four days of the Omer;
  • On Day 12 (Nisan 27): Today is twelve days, which is one week and five days of the Omer;
  • On Day 13 (Nisan 28): Today is thirteen days, which is one week and six days of the Omer;
  • On Day 14 (Nisan 29): Today is fourteen days, which is two weeks of the Omer;
  • On Day 15(Nisan 30): Today is fifteen days, which is two weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 16 (Iyyar 1): Today is sixteen days, which is two weeks and two days of the Omer
  • On Day 17 (Iyyar 2): Today is seventeen days, which is two weeks and three days of the Omer
  • On Day 18 (Iyyar 3): Today is eighteen days, which is two weeks and four days of the Omer
  • On Day 19 (Iyyar 4): Today is nineteen days, which is two weeks and five days of the Omer
  • On Day 20 (Iyyar 5): Today is twenty days, which is two weeks and six days of the Omer
  • On Day 21 (Iyyar 6): Today is twenty-one days, which is three weeks of the Omer
  • On Day 22 (Iyyar 7): Today is twenty-two days, which is three weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 23 (Iyyar 8): Today is twenty-three days, which is three weeks and two days of the Omer
  • On Day 24 (Iyyar 9): Today is twenty-four days, which is three weeks and three days of the Omer
  • On Day 25 (Iyyar 10): Today is twenty-five days, which is three weeks and four days of the Omer
  • On Day 26 (Iyyar 11): Today is twenty-six days, which is three weeks and five days of the Omer
  • On Day 27 (Iyyar 12): Today is twenty-seven days, which is three weeks and six days of the Omer
  • On Day 28 (Iyyar 13): Today is twenty-eight days, which is four weeks of the Omer
  • On Day 29 (Iyyar 14): Today is twenty-nine days, which is four weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 30 (Iyyar 15): Today is thirty days, which is four weeks and two days of the Omer
  • On Day 31 (Iyyar 16): Today is thirty-one days, which is four weeks and three days of the Omer
  • On Day 32 (Iyyar 17): Today is thirty-two days, which is four weeks and four days of the Omer
  • On Day 33 (Iyyar 18): Today is thirty-three days, which is four weeks and five days of the Omer
  • On Day 34 (Iyyar 19): Today is thirty-four days, which is four weeks and six days of the Omer
  • On Day 35 (Iyyar 20): Today is thirty-five days, which is five weeks of the Omer
  • On Day 36 (Iyyar 21): Today is thirty-six days, which is five weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 37 (Iyyar 22): Today is thirty-seven days, which is five weeks and two days of the Omer
  • On Day 38 (Iyyar 23): Today is thirty-eight days, which is five weeks and three days of the Omer
  • On Day 39 (Iyyar 24): Today is thirty-nine days, which is five weeks and four days of the Omer
  • On Day 40 (Iyyar 25): Today is forty days, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer
  • On Day 41 (Iyyar 26): Today is forty-one days, which is five weeks and six days of the Omer
  • On Day 42 (Iyyar 27): Today is forty-two days, which is six weeks of the Omer
  • On Day 43 (Iyyar 28): Today is forty-three days, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 44 (Iyyar 29): Today is forty-four days, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 45 (Sivan 1): Today is forty-five days, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 46 (Sivan 2): Today is forty-six days, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 47 (Sivan 3): Today is forty-seven days, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 48 (Sivan 4): Today is forty-eight days, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer
  • On Day 49 (Sivan 5): Today is forty-nine days, which is seven weeks of the Omer

Day 50 (Sivan 6) is the biblical mo’ed of Shavu’ot. For more information on Shavu’ot, please watch our video, WATCH: Mo’edim: Sefirat HaOmer – Counting of the Omer – Mar 03 2020.


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