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

Is "Sefira" a Personal or Communal Obligation?

Rabbi Stewart WeissNissan 25 5781
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Sefira is indeed a "strange bird." On the one hand, it seems to be a 49-day "package" (or 50 days, if you count Shavuot) with the days inextricably linked to one another, such that if one forgets to count on any of the days - or counts the wrong day! - then he cannot continue counting the remaining days with a bracha. Yet rather than make one bracha at the beginning of the count, and one at the end, we make 49 separate blessings, implying that each day is self-contained!

Rav Soloveichik infers that Sefira is both personal and communal, sending the message that while each of us stands alone as an valuable, irreplaceable Tzelem Elokim, we also are part of the broader communityt. This duality is emphasized by the fact that even after we hear the leader count the Omer, and we answer "Amen," we then go and make our own bracha!
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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