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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.
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Discussion (18)
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.
Craig Hamilton
Sandwich, MA
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.
Jerry
New York
April 30, 2014
What about Ladies who are mommies who forget to count the Omer ....
Rachel
April 29, 2014
OmerCounter for iPhone
I use this every year. Reminds me, displays bracha in Eng. and Hebrew, and more. Love it!
JP
NJ
April 29, 2014
B"H rabbi, tremendous idea thru skype. I never thought of that!!!!! thank you!!!

yours;
Antonio Martin-Natal
Antonio Martin-Natal
April 28, 2014
Count reminderr
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.
Anonymous
April 25, 2014
Re: Not permitted to continue to pray the blessing?
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.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Thornhill
May 4, 2011
Re: Counting the Omer
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.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
May 4, 2011
Counting the Omer
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.
Jack
Midland Park
May 3, 2011
Does counting the Omer help those who, at the same time worship the modern day golden calf?
Anonymous
Very, Sodom
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