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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Laws of Sefirat Ha'omer

Down for the Count

25
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David yawned and looked at his watch. It was definitely time to wrap things up and head for bed. He quietly opened the door of his children’s room, and gazed at them while they slept. Such sweet children. He looked lovingly in the direction of his eight year old, Avraham. Suddenly, David clapped his hand to his head. Avraham! Avraham had fallen asleep before he counted sefira. Yes, he was only eight years old, but Avraham was so conscientious about counting sefira every evening, and he would be so disappointed to wake up in the morning and realize that he had missed a night.
David walked over to Avraham’s bed, and gently whispered in his ear "Avraham, wake up. Let’s count sefira together."
Avraham groggily sat up, and yawned. He didn’t look entirely awake, but David was determined to give Avraham the chance to count.
"Avraham, repeat after me," David instructed. "Baruch… atah…"
Avraham repeated word after word, as his father recited the bracha and said the appropriate count for that night. Avraham crawled back under his blanket, and was quickly asleep. David breathed a sigh of relief. Now Avraham wouldn’t be upset about missing the count.
The next morning, as David stood in the kitchen washing his hands, Avraham burst into the room. "Abba!" Avraham cried out, sounding close to tears "I didn’t count sefira last night!"
"Avraham, don’t you remember, I counted with you in the middle of the night!" David happily related to his son.
"Whaa? What do you mean?" Avraham responded uncomprehendingly. "I didn’t count last night."
David attempted to remind David about the late night counting episode, to no avail. Avraham had obviously been half asleep at the time, and had no memory of that occurrence.
Did Avraham fulfill his obligation to count sefira, or should he repeat the count?
Answer of Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, shlita:
It appears that Avraham fulfilled his obligation. One who counts sefira while he is mitnamnem (dozing) has fulfilled his obligation. (see Shulchan Aruch, siman 63, se’if 5).
When is a person considered to be "dozing?" When one calls to the person and he answers, yet he is incapable of presenting his own idea. (see Mishna Berura, siman 680, se’if katan 39) In our case, Avraham is considered "mitnamnem", and, therefore, it seems that he has fulfilled his obligation.
However, it is questionable whether or not Avraham had intention to perform a mitzva. On the other hand, according to the majority of halachic decisors, sefirat Ha’omer in our days is a rabbinic mitzva, and rabbinic mitzvot do not require intention. (see Mishna Berura, siman 61, se’if katan 10). Therefore, it appears that, in our case, Avraham fulfilled his obligation.
In summary: It appears that Avraham fulfilled his obligation to count sefirat Ha’omer.

Compiled by Daniel Kirsch
Translation: Avigail Kirsch
Rabbi Daniel Kirsch
Rabbi Daniel Kirsch studied for many years at the famed Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem. He currently lives in Kedumim in the Shomron, where he studies at the yeshiva and teaches classes for adults. In addition, he teaches at an elementary school.
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