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Mourning Observances of the Sefirat HaOmer Period

Mourning Observances of the Sefirat HaOmer Period

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Why Do We Mourn During the Weeks of the Omer Count?

In remembrance of the tragic death of the 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva who died in a plague in the weeks between Passover and Shavuot, several mourning practices are observed during this period.

When Are the Mourning Practices Observed?

The mourning practices of the Omer period are observed beginning on the day after Passover, up until (but not including) the day before Shavuot. There is one day, however, within this period on which mourning is suspended—Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer count. This is the custom according to the Ari (master Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria), and the one followed by the Chabad-Lubavitch community.

In this matter there are also differing customs among Jewish communities, which follow the traditions established by their ancestors. They are as follows:

  1. From the first day of the Omer count until the 33rd day of the Omer.
     
  2. From the first day of the Omer until the morning of the 34th day of the Omer (this is the prevailing Sephardic practice).
     
  3. From the 30th of Nissan (the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar) until the morning of the 3rd of Sivan.
     
  4. From the second day of Iyar until the day before Shavuot. 

In all these customs—except (b)—the mourning is lifted on the 33rd of the Omer.

(Consult our calendar for the corresponding secular dates for this year.)

What Are the Mourning Practices?

The following activities are curtailed during the mourning period:

  1. Marriages and wedding celebrations. It is permitted, however, to become engaged to marry during this time (provided that there is no music or dancing at the engagement celebration).
     
  2. Cutting of one’s hair. (Haircutting is sometimes permitted under extenuating circumstances related to lifecycle celebrations or professional reasons that make it necessary to do so. In any of these cases, one should ask an authority versed in the custom of your community. You can also avail yourself of the Ask the Rabbi service on Chabad.org.)
     
  3. Listening to instrumental music (unless this is one’s livelihood).
     
  4. Purchasing and wearing new garments that bring joy due to their quality (e.g., a new dress suit or dress shoes). If one requires such garments for business purposes, or because one is meeting a new person with an eye to finding a marriage partner and needs to make a good impression, it is permissible. (This is independent of the question as to whether one should measure people by what they wear . . . )
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Chana wold Teaneck April 19, 2017

How about radio music or uncle.moshey so the kids won't get tired Reply

Simcha Bart for Chabad.org April 20, 2017
in response to Chana wold:

One may play recorded music for young children to calm them, put them to sleep, or as a teaching aid.

Reply

Anonymous April 19, 2017

May one listen to techno/dubstep/house/electronic music on the omer. I like to listen to them during workouts. Thank you. Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org April 21, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Some halachic authorities allow it for exercise. One should consult his or her own rabbi for specific guidance. Reply

Michelle April 18, 2017

Can we go to the movies during the counting of Omer? Reply

Simcha Bart for Chabad.org April 21, 2017
in response to Michelle:

It is not clear if going to the movies falls under the Sefirah mourning observances (without entering into the issue of going to the movies throughout the year - see this link for more about this).

That being said, I would posit that it is not in the spirit of this period of time to go to the movies. The Sefirah mourning marks a time when we almost lost our national survival - which is through Torah study (see "here about this). Thus it seems inappropriate to spend the Sefirah period in an activity which does not reflect the value we give to Torah study.

Additionally, it is important to remember, that the time of Sefirah is a countdown to the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, which is a time of reflection and self-improvement - see here for more about this. Reply

Simcha Bart for Chabad.org Los Angeles May 31, 2016

One may drive a new car during the Omer as we do not recite a Shehecheyanu blessing on a new car.
Reply

Nossy Drelich USA April 26, 2017
in response to Simcha Bart for Chabad.org :

Actually thats an interesting point. Maybe one should recite the bracha on the car? After all if a new fruit and suit require one, the kal vhcomer a car which costs alot more and brings untold joy to the owner all the more so. I'm curious to hear the reasoning behind it. Reply

Anonymous May 31, 2016

is knitting sewing crocheting embroidering etc allowed during sefirah Reply

Anonymous May 29, 2016

Is it okay to drive a new car and say the Shecheyanu blessing for this car during the Omer period? Reply

Simcha Bart for Chabad.org Los Angeles May 22, 2016

All of these festive activities may be done then, as the mourning customs are suspended on the 33rd day of the Omer. Reply

Daniel Scharfman May 19, 2016

Is it O.K. to cut hair, buy new clothes, etc on the 33rd day (Lag BaOmer) Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org May 15, 2016

Yes, that is not a problem. Reply

Malka Benya Jerusalem Israel May 12, 2016

is it permissible to build say an extra room on your house during the counting of the Omer period Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org May 10, 2016

Because the blessing of Shehecheyanu is not recited when purchasing new appliances, there is no problem to buy them during the Omer. Reply

Betty-Ann weiner Sunnyside May 9, 2016

Can I buy a major appliance like a clothes dryer during the Omer? Reply

Chabad.org Staff May 4, 2016

Yes we may wash clothes during the Omer. It is only during the Nine Days of Mourning for the Holy Temple, when we don't. Reply

Trudy Sudin St. Louis May 3, 2016

Can we wash clothes during the Omer? Reply

Anonymous 11797 May 1, 2016

Is listening to music on isru chag allowed? Reply

Anonymous April 27, 2016

Is going to a MLB ballgame okay during these days of mourning? Reply

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