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When counting sefiras haomer, we count the number of the day we are about to start but the number of the week we have most recently completed. For example, on the first day we say "today is one day" even though we have not yet completed the first day as it is just starting. On the other hand, when we count weeks, we don't count a week until we reach the end (e.g. "today is seven days which are one week"). What is the reason for this inconsistency?


EDIT

To address the questions that have come up in the comments and answers so far, there are a number of ways the days and weeks could be counted consistently. For example, "Today is day 1, which is one day of the first week of the omer." Alternatively, as Double AA mentioned in comments, simply counting days and weeks separately: ״היום יום אחד לעומר. השבוע שבוע אחד לעומר״

  • מקצת היום ככולו - once the day started it's like it already passed. – Al Berko May 14 at 12:26
  • I don't understand the question. Are you suggesting that we say שהם שבוע אחד from day one? – DonielF May 14 at 14:02
  • @DonielF Well 1 day doesn't make 1 week, so probably not those exact words. But maybe something like "which is part of the first week" from day 1. – Daniel May 14 at 15:41
  • @AlBerko I had considered that reasoning but couldn't find anything supporting it. Also, I wondered if the concept of ״מקצתו ככולו״ might apply to weeks as well. – Daniel May 14 at 15:58
  • The Q is really good. We might say "today 5 days of week 1"! I think counting days is just הכי תמצי for counting the weeks that is mentioned in the Torah and that's the main goal of Omer (שבע שבתות תמימות). So days are secondary and can be counted all day. – Al Berko May 14 at 16:07
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I think the answer is closely related to understanding the answer to Why do we count Sefirah cardinally rather than ordinally?. In other words, we count the number of days that have passed since the beginning of the counting.

So, @AlBerko is on the right track here. The Judaic day begins at nightfall. Once that day has begun, we have to count, correct? We're not really looking at how much of that day has passed. We're just interested in the fact that a new day has begun, therefore, that's one more day to add to the count.

I would say to apply the same logic to the weeks. We're looking at how many weeks have passed since we started counting (i.e., cardinally). We're not looking at which week we are in. So, we wouldn't say on Day 1, "Today is 1 day, and we're in the first week." That doesn't match up with the time that has passed and been actually counted. Therefore, on Day 7, when truly a full week of days has actually been passed and counted, we say at that point, "today is 7 days which is 1 week."

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    Why not say on day 1 "toweek is week 1"? (I know English doesn't have a word for 'the current week' but in Hebrew you can say השבוע just like היום) – Double AA May 14 at 13:31
  • @DoubleAA Interesting idea. Have to ponder this.. – DanF May 14 at 13:33
  • Why are we counting weeks that have passed instead of what week it is currently like we do for days? That's the whole question – Daniel May 14 at 15:48
  • @Daniel I may be missing something in your question. Shulchan Aruch, I believe, states that in the same way that we count the days, so should we count the weeks. I.e., since we count the days that passed, we also count the weeks that have passed. – DanF May 14 at 15:57
  • @DanF That's talking about counting the days up rather than down. So we say "it's been 1 day of the omer" rather than "there are 48 days left of the omer". But we don't count full days that have already passed since we count them in the night, right as the day begins. Perhaps, as Al said in the comments on the OP it has something to do with ״מקצת היום ככולו״, but why don't we apply the same concept to the weeks? – Daniel May 14 at 15:59
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I think we count the weeks the way we do since it's just less cumbersome being that we don't count the weeks as a total without details.

That is, we don't call the entire first week 'week one' and the entire second week 'week two'. As opposed to let's say years, when you (or the Torah) say a two year old cow, that leaves the question open, are we discussing a cow that finished two years since birth, or is it in it's second year. But either one is acceptable as far as language used.

Our count of weeks includes the fraction of the weeks, which gives a more accurate total. That is, the days besides the total weeks.

So imagine day eight: Today is day eight which is one week and one day as we do it, vs today is day eight which is two weeks less six days.

  • But there are Rishonim who think you only need to count weeks on the whole-week days. This wouldn't answer for them – Double AA May 15 at 18:05
  • @Double Do we have them stating how the counting of weeks would work? I.e. do they say at day eight start saying 8 days which is a week? (I don't recall offhand) Either way, our practice certainly makes more sense this way. – user6591 May 15 at 18:08
  • I don't know, but the logically parallel way would be each day say היום יום פלוני at some point that day and each week say השבוע שבוע פלוני at some point that week. (Or only at night for some Rishonim) – Double AA May 15 at 18:15
  • Curious. Truth is, according to the opinion that even when you miss a day you can still count weeks with a bracha by relying on those rishonim, we would be forced to say they counted weeks as completed, otherwise we would be counting the wrong weeks. But then, how to count the first week of Omer? – user6591 May 15 at 18:37

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