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Currently, according to a previous question on this site, we count the omer without doubt: "Today is the Xth day of the omer" because we have a fixed calendar, and because counting with doubt is invalid.

But what happened before the establishment of the fixed calendar? Did the community adjust their counting once the messenger of the new month arrived? Did Shavuot start on different days in different places? Did we count like we leyn on Sukkot chol hamoed ("Today is the 3rd day and today is the 4th day")? Or did folks in chu"l neglect this mitzvah?

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How could Shavuot start on different days in different places? There's either a two-day doubt, or they know which day it should be on. –  Double AA Apr 15 '13 at 16:55
@DoubleAA If the halakha is that counting the omer must be in order and without safek, and we must start counting the day after the [first] seder, then in a 30-day Adar year, we end up with communities in chu"l starting sefirah on [what they will soon learn was] 15 Nisan, while communities in Israel started counting on 16 Nisan. Then chu"l communities would start Shavuot a day earlier than Israel. –  Charles Koppelman Apr 15 '13 at 18:45
@DoubleAA my calendar calculus might be off, so please correct any errors. –  Charles Koppelman Apr 15 '13 at 18:47
Ahh I understand what you mean. This is not anything new. It is no different for a holiday to start the same in Chul and Israel but end on different days, than to end of the same day and start on different days. It just depends if the previous month is 30 or 29 (ie is the safek off by one day preceding or following the actual day). The only reason you are used to Yom Tov Sheni shel Galuyot and not Yom Tov Rishon shel Galuyot is because all of our holidays happen to be in months which follow months that have 29 days (Adar (II), Iyar, Tammuz, Elul). –  Double AA Apr 15 '13 at 19:11
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According to the Dvar Avraham (1:34), the reason one does not count ספירת העומר מספק is because if you do not know for certain what number it is, that is not considered "counting" at all. According to this reason, if there was an actual doubt, you would not be able to count at all. As the Dvar Avraham explains,

אבל לפי דברינו הנ"ל נראה לומר דבר חדש דדוקא ביו"ט היו נוהגין אבותינו לעשות ב' ימים מספיקא, אבל בספירה באמת לא הי' אפשר כלל לאבותינו לספור שתי ספירות ביחד מספק לפי שזו אינה ספירה כלל כמ"ש ובמקום ובזמן שהיו מסופקין לא היה תקנה לדבר וצ"ל שלא היו סופרין כלל

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So if they didn't count, how did they know when Shavuot was? –  Charles Koppelman Apr 16 '13 at 3:26
@CharlesKoppelman 50 days after pesach. They couldn't do the mitzva of counting, but that doesn't mean they can't look at a calendar and note the two possible days Shavuot could fall on. –  Double AA Apr 16 '13 at 6:36
@DoubleAA if by "looking at a calendar" you mean "counting to 50" since neither Iyar nor Nisan were fixed. I guess at least someone counted, but not in a sefirah-related way. –  Charles Koppelman Apr 16 '13 at 22:39
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The Baal HaMaor asks (last piece on Pesachim) why we don't count twice for the ספיקא דיומא. He answers that if so, the count will go until the first day of Shavuos (i.e. you'll count "today is 49" on Shavuos itself), and we will come to disgrace Yom Tov. The Raavad answers the same question by saying that if we count on two days we will end up with a contradiction: we celebrate Shavuos, showing that the count has ended, yet we are also counting day 49!

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So.... you are assuming the count cannot be corrected once it is started? And then the communities in chu"l (before the fixed calendar) might celebrate Shavuot starting on an earlier day? (see judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/27947/…) –  Charles Koppelman Apr 15 '13 at 21:09
I think you mean to be answering this judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/6964/… –  Double AA Apr 15 '13 at 21:52
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