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Shopping during thr Omer


Rabbi David Sperling

Iyyar 3, 5776
Can we shop for clothing during the Omer? Since we cannot get married, we do not listen to music, is shipping allowed? Thanks
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The bottom line is that according to most opinions both shopping and saying the blessing of shehecheyanu on buying new cloths etc, is permitted. There are some sources and customs that refrain from purchases that require the special shehecheyanu blessing, and if that is your family or community practice you should follow it. However, if you have no custom, the standard halachic ruling is to allow shopping in the Omer days. Here is a short article I wrote about this question – Shehecheyanu During the Omer by Rav D. Sperling. The days of semi-mourning for the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who died during the period of the Omer are marked by refraining from haircuts and weddings. These are mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Haim, 493). Other customs have become part of these days, such as not celebrating with dancing or live music (Mishna Brurah ibid, 3). What about saying the "Shehecheyanu" bracha on new fruit or new clothes? The Mishna Brurah (ibid 2) writes that saying shehecheyanu is permitted. In fact it is hard to find sources that forbid saying it, or forbid buying new clothes. It could be that some people mixed up the customs of the three weeks before the 9th of Av with the Omer period. During the three weeks, we refrain from saying it because of the words included in it which thank Hashem for bringing us "lazman hazeh", "to these days" – when the essence of those dark days of destruction and mourning are far from being something to be thankful about. But the Omer period, on the other hand, is intrinsically a good time. For example, the Ramban (Vayikra 23, 31) calls these days a type of long "Chol HaMo'ed" between Pesach and Shavu'ot. Based on this, there is no problem either saying shehecheyanu on new fruits, or when buying and wearing new clothes. On the other hand, there are sources which prohibit the recitation of shehecheyanu, especially (or at least) to refrain from buying and wearing new clothes that require the bracha. (See Piskay T'shuvot 493, 2-3). Apparently, the logic is that these days are days of spiritual judgment ("din") and it is not appropriate to say schehechia'nu during times of extra adjudication and seriousness. Or perhaps the joy of new clothes, especially special garments which require a bracha, contradicts the atmosphere of semi-mourning of the Omer days. (It is questionable whether this is true today, when buying new clothes is a more regular event. But the answer might very well determine if one should say shehecheyanu at all, at any time of the year, on purchasing new clothes. That is, if we posit that new clothes don’t bring so much joy in our times when we often shop for new things, and hence the purchase and wearing of new items doesn’t contradict the mourning spirit of the days of the Omer – then perhaps there isn’t enough joy when buying the new clothes to warrant the shehecheyanu bracha at all). In practice, the basic halacha is that one can (and should) say the shehecheyanu bracha during the Omer days, even on buying and wearing new clothes. However, those with a family or community custom not to recite it should continue this practice, as it is in accord with the opinions of some early rabbis.
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