A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS SHEMINI
SEFIRAS Ha-OMER: FORGETTING TO COUNT ONE DAY
QUESTION: If one forgot to count one day of the Sefiras ha-Omer, may he
continue to count?
DISCUSSION: There is a major dispute among the poskim of the Geonic era over
whether or not forgetting to count one day invalidates the entire count.
Some are of the opinion that the Torah's command to count "seven complete
weeks" renders the entire count as one entity, one long mitzvah.
Consequently, forgetting to count one day destroys the entire sequence and
no further counting is possible. Most other poskim hold, however, that each
day is considered a separate mitzvah. One [or several] day's omission,
therefore, has no bearing on counting the other days.
The Shulchan Aruch(1) rules like the majority opinion, that one day's
counting has no connection to the other days'. One must, therefore, continue
to count the sefirah even when a day [or several days] were omitted. The
blessing over the count, however, should not be said, in deference to those
who hold that omitting a day invalidates the entire mitzvah. The Mishnah
Berurah recommends that one hear the blessing from someone else, so that he
can fulfill the mitzvah in the proper way, with a blessing.
If a person is uncertain as to whether he missed the previous day's count,
he is permitted to count the remaining days with a blessing(2).
One who forgot to count during the night should count during the following
day without a blessing. He may then continue to count on the following
evenings with a blessing.
One who forgot to count on a Thursday night but remembered to do so on
Friday afternoon after kabbalas Shabbos and Maariv but before sunset, may
count on the following days with a blessing(3).
There is a dispute among the latter-day poskim(4) concerning one who forgot
to count one evening, but remembered to count the next day after sunset but
before nightfall (the time period known as bein ha-shemashos). Some allow
him to count on the following days with a blessing while others do not. A
problematic case like this should be presented to a rav for a decision(5).
5 See Kaf ha-Chayim 489:83 who rules not to say a blessing, while Yabia Omer
4:43 rules that a blessing may be said. Surely, one who remembered to count
within 9 minutes after sunset, may count on the following days with a
blessing; see Igros Moshe O.C. 4:62.