"Your 'S'firat Ha'omer' Guide" 5757

Nissan 15-Sivan 5, 5757
April 22-June 10, 1997

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


In honor of his 95th birthday,
11 Nissan, 5757

Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe


We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, the 107th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


This week's issue focuses on the laws of S'firat Ha'omer, the counting of the Omer.

Therefore, we present here "Your S'firat Ha'omer Guide" and other related material about counting the Omer.


It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!

Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind

11 Nissan, 5757
Brooklyn, New York


"What more can I do to motivate the whole world to cry out and demand the Redemption?... I have done all I can; now you must do whatever you can. May it be G-d's will that there will be one, two, or three among you who will appreciate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and may you actually be successful and bring about the complete Redemption, immediately!" (The Rebbe, 28 Nissan, 5751/1991)


The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"

The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.

Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.


During1 the days of the Omer, we eagerly count the days from Pesach until Shavuot, looking forward to receiving the Torah anew.

The Torah says, "And you shall count seven full weeks, from the day after your festival, when you bring the Omer as a wave offering...." (Vayikra 23:15).

What is the Omer? Why is it connected with counting these days? Here is the answer.

In the Holy Land, barley ripens in the spring, in the month of Nissan.

In the time of the Beis HaMikdosh, the new crop could not be used until an amount of barley, called an "Omer," was offered on the Great Altar in the Sanctuary. This is how it took place:

Right after the first day of Pesach, on the eve of the 16th of Nissan, prominent Torah scholars and members of the Supreme Court (Bet Din) would go out into a field of barley near Jerusalem that had been prepared before Yom Tov.

All the neighboring villagers would gather to watch the ceremony.

Three men using three sickles would cut three measures of barley, which they would put in three boxes.

Once it was dark, the head of the reapers would say, "Has the sun set?"

"Yes," everyone would reply.

"Has the sun set?" he would ask again.


"Has the sun set?"

A third time they would answer, "Yes."

Then he would point to the sickle and ask three times, "Is this the sickle?"


"Is this the sickle?"--"Yes."

"Is this the sickle?"--"Yes."

In the same way, he would ask three times, "Is this the box?"--"Yes."

"Is this the box?"--"Yes."

"Is this the box?"--"Yes."

If it was Shabbat, he would also ask three times, "Is it Shabbat today?"

This showed everybody that the mitzvah of cutting the Omer pushes off the Shabbat.

Finally he would ask, "Shall I reap?"

"Yes," they would answer.

"Shall I reap?"--"Yes."

"Shall I reap?"--"Yes."

This whole ceremony was very awesome. What was it all for?

Unfortunately, there were people at that time who rebelled against the Sages. They were called Beitusim. They tried to get people not to listen to the teachings of the Sages.

One of their arguments was that the Omer should only be cut on a Saturday night, after Shabbat.

In fact, in the Torah it says that the time for cutting the Omer is "the day after Shabbat." The Beitusim said this meant the day after Shabbat itself. But the Sages had the tradition from Mt. Sinai, that Yom Tov is also called Shabbat, and the Omer should be cut the day after Yom Tov!

They made a big ceremony out of it, so that it would be clear to everyone that the Beitusim were not correct. The Omer had to be cut the day after Yom Tov, even on Shabbat!

After the barley had been cut, it was placed in the three boxes and brought to the Beis HaMikdosh. Since it was still green and soft, it was dried and roasted in such a way that the fire touched every grain. Then it was spread out in the courtyard for the wind to blow through it. Finally it was ground up with millstones into flour.

Of the three measures (se'ah) of barley that had been reaped in the field, only one tenth was taken for the offering. This quantity is called an Omer.

This Omer was then sieved thirteen times, over and over again, until it was fine and pure.

The next day, the barley flour was burned as an offering on the Mizbayach, the Great Altar. Before burning it, the kohen would wave it in every direction in honor of the One to Whom the whole world belongs. It was as if he were saying, "Thank you G-d for the harvest. Thank you for the very bread we eat."

* * *

In the Midrash it says that the Omer shows us how kind G-d is to His people. When the Jews were in the wilderness, G-d gave every single one of them an Omer of manna every day. Now that the Jewish people had come into the Holy Land, all G-d asked in return was a single Omer from the whole Jewish people. Nor did they need to bring it every day. Once a year was enough. And barley, a poor man's grain, was all G-d required.

Our Sages also taught that Pesach is the time when the crops are ripening. At this time, G-d judges the world in regard to food, particularly grain.

At such a moment G-d says to us, "Bring me an Omer of barley on Pesach, and I will bless the grain in your fields for the whole year."

By counting these days, we remember that the world is being judged. Will there be hunger or plenty? At this time we should return to G-d with a complete heart, and beg Him to have mercy on us and on all His creatures, and on the land, so that the harvest may grow as required.

Nowadays, we do not have the Beis HaMikdosh, and we cannot bring the Omer offering, but we pray that by doing G-d's mitzvah of Counting the Omer with joy in our hearts, we may merit His ultimate blessing, that He should speedily restore the Beis HaMikdosh, and reestablish His Kingship throughout the world, with the revelation of Moshiach, Now.


1. Adapted from The Moshiach Times, published by Tzivos Hashem.


On the second night of Pesach, we begin S'firat Ha'omer, counting forty-nine days between Pesach and Shavuot, the day when the Torah was given to the Children of Israel. This is done every night following the evening prayer leading up to the night before Shavuot.

We use this time to prepare ourselves to receiving the Torah, just as our ancestors did at Mt. Sinai.


Edited by Rabbi Y. K. Marlow
(Head of Bet-Din of Crown Heights)


Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom A-sher Ki-de-sho-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Ve-tzi-vo-nu Al Se-fi-ras Ho-omer.


Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.

"Today is one day (or two days, or three days, etc.) of the Omer."


Nissan 15-Sivan 5, 5757
April 22-June 10, 1997

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