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Seem that the commandment is to count, why do we make a distinction between counting during the day and at night?

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3 Answers 3

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The Torah commands us to count the Omer "מהחל חרמש בקמה" (Devarim 16:9), ("When the sickle 'begins' with the stalks"). Thus, it is assumed that the Omer should be counted when the stalks for the Korban Omer should be cropped. The mitzva of קצירת העומר (cropping of the omer) applies at night (Menachos 71a), and it is disputed amongst the Rishonim whether it is acceptable if done by day. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch rules (following the Rosh) that if one forgot at night, he should count by day, but without a b'racha. (See Tur OC, 489.)

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@soandos, Read the first sentence of this post. The Torah commands us to count when we cut. According to those Rishonim who hold that it must be done at night, chazal learned from this verse that the time at which we must do both are correlated, even though a simple reading of the verse would not necessitate such a position. (Simply, it would mean that we start counting the omer once we begin to cut.) But from the fact that the Torah mentioned the קצירה when it clearly didn't have to, chazal's d'rasha is justified. –  jake May 15 '11 at 20:27
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In other words there's a general concept by Omer, when we have a Safek: A safek works to be yotzei the Omer, but when there's a Safek you cannot make a Bracha. On the other hand, the next night you can make a Bracha, because then it becomes a sfeik sfeikah... –  yydl May 15 '11 at 20:39
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@soandos, I think you are mistaken. All I need is for the day/night safek to be in my favor. Because then, even if it is one big mitzva, I can still count with a b'racha, since I've counted each day until now. Then further, even if the day/night safek is not in my favor, I can still count if the 49 vs. 1 safek is in my favor. –  jake May 15 '11 at 21:00
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@jake: Apologies, but if there is that original safek, why do we say a bracha on any but the first night? –  soandos May 15 '11 at 21:10
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@soandos: we do say shehecheyanu on the second day of most Yamim Tovim. (It's only with Rosh Hashanah that there's a doubt whether we should do so, but that's related to the question of whether they're considered "one long day.") –  Alex May 16 '11 at 14:26

The cutting of the Omer was done at night, and therefore the counting of the Omer is done with a Bracha only at night. (Tosafos HaRosh, Megilla 20b)

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What does one have to do with the other? –  soandos May 15 '11 at 16:36
    
Just like if the omer was not cut at night it is not valid, so too the blessing "counting" of the omer must be done at night. –  Gershon Gold May 15 '11 at 16:38
    
the counting has nothing to do with the korban though... –  soandos May 15 '11 at 16:41
    
I guess the Tosafos HaRosh disagrees with your contention. –  Gershon Gold May 15 '11 at 16:47
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So why do you think he thinks that they have something in common? –  soandos May 15 '11 at 18:21

I heard a shiur last week where it was related to the word תמימות/complete (in שבע שבתות תמימות תהיינה/they should be seven complete weeks). A halakhic day begins at night, so in order for it to be counted "completely," the counting needs to be done at night.

According to R' Soloveitchik, when you "make up" a missed night by counting during the day, you aren't actually fulfilling the mitzva; rather, you are just enabling yourself to count with a bracha on subsequent nights. "Counting" can only be done if you count consecutively, so if you count 1 and skip 2, you can't then count 3. By counting 2 during the day, you've maintained the continuity so that you can still count 3.

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