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I Keep On Forgetting To Count the Omer!

I Keep On Forgetting To Count the Omer!

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Question:

I enjoy counting the Omer very much, because I relate to the self-improvement/awareness that it brings me each day. So, it’s disappointing when I miss a day . . . very much so. The entire point of the exercise is to be cleansed of my encrustations of evil in these facets, and missing one (or several) makes me feel incomplete, like I’m still carrying a half-dozen of the encrustations. Besides the fact that I can no longer count with a blessing.

Is there something specific I can do to rectify missed Omer counting days? Or is there some other exercise with a similar effect as counting the Omer?

Response:

Each day of the Omer count provides a unique opportunity that no other day can provide: A chance to clean up another part of the soul, to be prepared for the giving of the Torah on Shavuot. Counting that day is a major part of that cleansing process.

When we miss an opportunity like that, we look around for some way to travel back in time and do it right. Basically, we need a time machine.

Well, a time machine exists, and it’s called “do it right from now on” (a.k.a. teshuvah). It’s not so hard to operate: Having expressed remorse for the past, you make a strong resolution to make sure those mistakes can never happen again—and that itself reaches back in time and heals the omissions of the past.

There’s a caveat, however: “I’ll try better from now on” is not necessarily enough. We need to find something substantial that will pretty much guarantee no messups from now on.

Being another of those forgetful, absent-minded types, I’ve found over the years that there is really only one solution to never forgetting the Omer: to count with a minyan every night. What I’m suggesting, therefore, is that you take upon yourself to pray with a minyan every night until Shavuot. That will ensure you don’t mess up from now on. And besides, you will be able to hear the blessing from the leader of the prayers, who has everyone in mind when he says that blessing. Resolve, as well, to do the same next year, if possible.

(When making this resolution—or any resolution, for that matter—make sure to say that you are doing this “without any vow.” In Hebrew, that’s “bli neder.” That’s important, since breaking a vow is very serious business in Torah terms.)

If there’s no minyan within a reasonable distance, you should at least find out what time the closest minyan convenes and always pray at that time. This solution is presented in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 90:9: “One who is incapable of coming to the synagogue should aim to pray at the time when the congregation prays.” Rabbi Moshe Isserles adds in his gloss that this also applies to those who live in places where there is no minyan.

Hey, you could even ask a friend to “Skype you in.”

Try this out. And let me wish you the traditional blessing of “May you receive the Torah this year with joy and in an inner way!”

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Rabbi Tzvi Freeman April 14, 2015

Tracy, I really sympathize. The first couple of years was really hard for me. It is for most people—especially when you don't have a minyan to count with.

But Hashem does care. He does have an opinion. The rabbis are the representatives of his people and their leaders. Their opinion is more precious to Him than His own—just as a good teacher treasures the achievements of his students more than he values his own achievements. Reply

Tracy April 13, 2015

If the blessing was instituted by the rabbis and Ha Shem would have no opinion either way, then why not just start back up, adding the blessing the next night? What does Ha Shem think about re-doos? If my studying has taught me anything, it's that he is right there to run along with us when we trip and fall. Did you ever watch a child at a piano recital who flubbed up and then watch the guilt and shame just heap up on his poor little head? All done by himself, mind you, but his perception is that everyone is disappointed in him or his performance or laughing. He then has to make the split-second decision to either get up from the piano and run back to his seat in shame, start from where he left off (which is sometimes not possible without a contextual place previously in the song) or start over. Which one is most appropriate? I had this horrible opportunity visit me once and I had to start over. My emotions blinded and deafened me but the cheers afterward? My dad was so proud! Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA April 30, 2014

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 90:9: “One who is incapable of coming to the synagogue should aim to pray at the time when the congregation prays.”

I hope to at least be capable of this, but it is not a vow (bli neder). I would like it to be, but I don't want to forget to follow through on my word. I am quite forgetful, and there are many aspects in Judaism, such as saying the Shema at night and in the morning that I forget to do. I often even need to be reminded of my basic household chores by my wife on a daily basis, never mind Judaism. I pray to be able to, but I don't have the advantage of having these sorts of things from birth. I was certainly not frum from birth, and I usually don't have family support for much Judaism activity, but I can at least vow that I will try my best. For example, if someone reminds me, either bitter or happy, I plan on following through for the sake of observing Judaism. Or, if my wife reminds me of a chore, I vow to give her my utmost respect. Reply

Jerry New York April 30, 2014

The answer is simple. There are organizations that provide a sefirat haomer calendar with perforated pages for each day's counting. After I count the omer, I rip out that day's page and leave it in a prominent place in my home where I am certain to see it the next day. As I result, I never miss a day of counting. Reply

Rachel April 30, 2014

What about Ladies who are mommies who forget to count the Omer .... Reply

JP NJ April 29, 2014

I use this every year. Reminds me, displays bracha in Eng. and Hebrew, and more. Love it! Reply

Antonio Martin-Natal April 29, 2014

B"H rabbi, tremendous idea thru skype. I never thought of that!!!!! thank you!!!

yours;
Antonio Martin-Natal Reply

Anonymous April 28, 2014

If you don't attend a minyan, which is the best option, and you dont have a beard, grow a beard, it always reminds you. Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman Thornhill April 25, 2014

Please note that one does continue counting, even if having missed one day. It's just that you can no longer say a blessing on the counting, since you are not counting all the days.

The Torah doesn't say anywhere to make a blessing. That was instituted by the rabbis. Judaism is not defined by a literal reading of the Bible. Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman May 4, 2011

What that someone told you is the opinion of Rabbi Chaim David Azulay, (known as "the Chida," 18th century). Almost all other rabbinic opinions, however, state otherwise.

Nevertheless, if you are certain that you did miss one night, you should continue counting, but without saying a blessing. Reply

Jack Midland Park May 4, 2011

Someone told me years ago at the second Seder, not to start counting unless one expects to do it every day.
What is the ruling on this matter or do different experts have different answers ?
Thank You. Reply

Anonymous Very, Sodom May 3, 2011

Does counting the Omer help those who, at the same time worship the modern day golden calf? Reply

Stephen Weinstein Camarillo, CA July 29, 2010

It is not particularly hard to set an "appointment" in either Microsoft outlook or your phone/PDA/whatever that will remind you at a pre-set time every day. You can even (with somewhat more effort), pre-enter the numbers, so that it reminds you on each day what number you should say that day. Reply

Sarah Masha W Bloomfield, MI/USA May 24, 2010

Women are not so obligated to pray maariv (evening services), and rarely with a minyan (quorum). Also in my town the men pray early, with the plag, so counting when davening maariv is not an option.

We have a sign in the bathroom so we see it as we brush our teeth.

But this year I put an alarm on my phone (actually an appointment on the calendar that I updated each night) It worked perfectly. Reply

Anonymous Westmont, NJ May 8, 2010

Set a daily phone alarm at night as a reminder, and put a tally sheet (tallying day number) next to the place you pray everyday (it's good to pray in the same place anyway- helps get in the 'zone'). Reply

Shoshannah Brombacher brooklyn, ny May 5, 2010

Hang up a big sign on your door or your fridge or any place that you see often (over the clock?): Did you count the Omer yet?
I hang up an omer calendar in our living room, that works well.
Good luck, Reply

Anonymous Brooooklyn, NY May 3, 2010

I always count right before I say the bedtime Shema. If it's done the same time everyday, you can't forget. Keep a clip at the page of the sefira counting.
My son has a reminder twittered to his phone everyday. However, he does pray with a minyan every day and that pretty much does it for him. When we make an early Shabbos that can be an issue at which point I remind them when I'm counting. Reply

Anonymous upperco, md/usa April 30, 2010

I love this idea too. Reply

itche April 29, 2010

Try this link for email reminders
www.chabad.org/tools/subscribe/default_cdo/subid/16
If someone forgot to count by night, he can count by Day without a blessing, and then continue counting with a blessing, as long as he did not miss out one day. Reply

Mr. Robert Pepe April 29, 2010

Maybe we could create a Skype group! Reply