Counting of the Omer

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Counting of the Omer (or Sefirat Ha'omer, Hebrew: ספירת העומר) within Judaism, is a verbal counting with a blessing during the 49 days between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Pentacost) which are counted ceremoniously as a commemoration of the Omer ceremony which was celebrated in the Temple in Jerusalem. This process is called Counting of the Omer.

Contents

Source

The source for this tradition is Leviticus 23:15-16:

"15. And you shall count for yourselves, from the morrow of the rest day from the day you bring the omer as a wave offering seven weeks; they shall be complete.
16. You shall count until the day after the seventh week, [namely] the fiftieth day, [on which] you shall bring a new meal offering to the Lord."
- The Judaica Press Tanach (http://www.chabad.org/library/archive/LibraryArchive.asp?AID=63255)

Background

The barley harvest in Israel begins during Passover; the omer is a Biblical measure of volume of grain. An omer offering was brought to the Temple on the second day of Passover and was the signal for the allowance of "chadash" (new harvest) grains.

The count

Every night of the counting, a blessing is spoken and the count is stated in terms of both total days and weeks and days. For example, on the twenty-third day the count would be stated thus: "Today is twenty-three days, which is three weeks and two days of the Omer."

As a period of mourning

This period is a time of partial mourning, during which weddings, parties, and dinners with dancing are not conducted, in memory of a plague which killed 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva. This custom is also in memory of those Jews murdered during the Crusades, the original pogroms occurring around this time. Some theorists suggest that the period of mourning was borrowed from the Roman superstition that May is an unlucky month, and that the associations with the plague and Crusades are later developments. The Romans had a similar custom of not marrying during the month of May, as that was the time of the Feast of the Lemures. Haircuts, shaving, watching movies, and listening to live music during this time are forbidden by many rabbis. It should be noted, however, that the extent of mouring is based heavily on custom and therefore, Jews will mourn to different degrees regarding certain prohibitions, basing their actions on ancient family custom.

See also

External links

Template:JewishHolidayshe:ספירת העומר it:Conteggio dell'Omer nl:Omertelling

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