In last years article on Sefirat Ha’omer we spoke of whether the requirement to count the days of the Omer is mi’deoritah or mi’derabanan. We also saw that there are varied opinions in the commentaries whether today one must count the days and the weeks or only the days of the Omer. Accepting the majority opinion that counting the Omer today is m’iderabanan and that the accepted custom is to count the days and the weeks, we will look into some details pertaining to the proper procedure for reciting the count. For more details see archives of TorahMitzion Parsha Daf from 5764.
The Sefira begins with the recitation of a beracha – Baruch …asher kideshanu bemitzvotav ve’tzivanu al sefirat ha’omer. When the counting is done in public, one of the members (usually either the Sheliach Tzibur or the Rabbi) recites the beracha and the appropriate count for the day which is then repeated by the rest of the public. Most Poskim (halachic authorities) are of the opinion that one could hear the beracha of the Sheliach Tzibur, having in mind to partake in the recitation of the bracha, answer Amen and be exempt from repeating the beracha. This opinion is first found and established by the Rashba in his Responsa (response 126) and later quoted by such Poskim as the Beit Yosef, Magen Avraham, Peri Chadash, Mishna Berurah and Aruch Hashulchan. (OC 486). The Mishna Berurah states that though one can partake in another’s beracha the accepted custom is for each individual to recite his own beracha.
There is one situation where one should depend on hearing the beracha from others. Should one miss an entire day of counting there are differences of opinion amongst the commentaries if he should continue counting with a beracha or not. In such an event the solution is to hear the reciting of the beracha from someone else having in mind to partake in their beracha and then to recite the count with out the beracha. (see Mishna Berurah 489/37). Accordingly, anyone who is leading the tzibur in counting the Omer should have in mind to include in his beracha those who may not be able to recite there own beracha.
When counting one should say “Hayom __ yamim la’omer”, today is so and so many days in the Omer. As of the seventh day one should add the count of the week as well adding “sh’hem Shavua echad la’omer” (or shnei shavuot etc.), which are so many weeks. When it is not a complete week then the additional days of the week should be stated as well by adding sh’hem shvua echad ve__ yamim la’omer, which are so many weeks and so many days in the Omer.
We find several discussions in reference to the above format of the count. One issue relates to when should the days and weeks be stated. The Tur (OC 489) quotes several opinions beginning with the opinion to pronounce daily both the total number of days and their breakdown into weeks. Another opinion requires the counting of days only until the completion of a week from which point one would count the weeks and number of days in that week. A third view is to count the total of days and at the conclusion of a week add the count of weeks.
Another issue discussed by some of the later Poskim is whether to say, at the conclusion of the count, ba’omer or la’omer. The Taz argues that the form found in the Ran, “la’omer” relates to the actual Omer offering as opposed to the Rama’s ba’omer where the connotation is to the days being counted and is therefore the preferable form. Most later Poskim disagree with the Taz’s understanding of “la’omer” showing that the prefix “la” is used for counting. (See Shaarei Teshuva OC 489/8) Since, as the Beit Yosef notes that one fulfills the mitzvah even if only the number is stated with no mention of the Omer either format would be acceptable.
As for fulfilling the mitzvah of counting by hearing someone else’s count with intent to be included in his count, we find varied opinions amongst the poskim. The Gemarah in Menachot (65b) teaches that since the pasuk states “Usfartem lachem” the added “lachem” teaches that the mitzvah applies to every individual. This statement can be understood in one of two ways. It can be read as, there is a mitzvah incumbent on each individual to count the Omer, alternately, it can be understood as stating that the mitzvah of counting the Omer is not a mitzvah of the Beit Din but one that is incumbent on the broader public. If we accept the second understanding, then one may fulfill his requirement by hearing someone else count. If we accept the first understanding, then there is a requirement for each individual to count, the question would then be, can one fulfill his personal requirement with someone else’s action? The Magen Avraham suggests that we could apply the concept of Shomea Ke’oneh, one who listens, is viewed as speaking the words.
Ideally, one should count independently but in the event one did not (or can not) count and had in mind to fulfill the mitzvah by hearing someone else he has fulfilled the mitzvah. (For a further discussion on this topic and the Rashba’s opinion see Magen Avraham OC 489/1, Aruch Hashulchan OC 489/4 and especially Pri Chadash OC 489/1