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If I forgot to count at night and during the day, I cannot continue to count with a bracha. This was formulated in my Dirshu Daf HaYomi B'Halacha email as follows:

The Mechaber writes that one who neglected to count at night may count in the morning without a beracha. The Mishnah Berurah adds that he may then continue counting the rest of the nights with a beracha. Someone who neglected to count one full day cannot continue to count with a beracha.

Is there an obligation to continue counting without a bracha? Is the mitzvah of "Usefartem Lachem," "And you shall count for yourselves" (Vayikra 23:18) still in effect even though one can no longer say the bracha, or is counting optional or even not at all efficacious in any sense?

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    Berakhot in general are later rabbinic obligations completely separate from the Mitzva being performed. Maybe you can indicate why you'd think "can no longer say the bracha" would affect the obligation to count. – Double AA May 31 '16 at 12:56
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The short answer is yes. The reason is that there is a machlokes as to whether it is a mitzvah to count each day or if the mitzvah is one "long" mitzvah to count all seven weeks or both. Thus, we count without a bracha to take all the opinions into account. Rabbi Chaim Jachter discusses the latest time that one can count the omer and explains why we would not use a bracha during the day (to maintain the continuity of the count and resume with a bracha)

Sefirat Ha’omer – If a Person Missed a Day of Counting

If, however, one misses an entire day of counting, then he no longer counts the Omer with a Beracha. This means that if a person did not count at all at night or the following day, he must omit the Beracha when counting the Omer henceforth. There is a common misconception that once a person misses a day of counting, he no longer needs to count at all. This is not correct; a person in such a situation must continue counting each night, only without reciting a Beracha. There are Halachic authorities who maintain that the obligation of Sefirat Ha’omer remains fully intact even after one misses a day of counting, and one must count even with a Beracha. We omit the Beracha in this situation in deference to the view that there is no longer an obligation of counting once one missed a day, but one must nevertheless continue counting as required according to many authorities.

Hacham Ben Sion Abba Shaul (Israel, 1923-1998), in his work Or Le’sion (vol. 3, 16:7), writes that when one resumes counting after missing a day, he must first make mention of the missed day. For example, if one missed the twenty-second day of the Omer, he cannot simply count that night “Hayom Shelosha Ve’esrim Yom La’omer She’hem Shelosha Shabuot U’shneh Yamim.” Since he had missed the twenty-second day, he cannot “jump” to the twenty-third day. Instead, he must first say, “Etmol Haya Shenayim Ve’esrim Yom La’omer She’hem Shelosha Shabuot Ve’yom Ehad,” noting the previous day’s counting, and then he can proceed to count the twenty-third day. And if a person missed two days of counting, then he must mention both days he had missed (“Shilshom Haya… Etmol Haya…”). No matter how many successive days one missed, he must mention all of them before proceeding to count that night of the Omer.

Summary: A person who missed a day of counting during the Omer must continue counting the Omer each night thereafter, though without a Beracha. When one resumes counting after missing a day, he must first mention the previous day’s counting by saying “Etmol Haya…La’omer,” and only then proceed to that night’s counting.

The Latest Time For Counting Sefirah

The Gemara (Menachot 66a) writes that we should count the Omer at night because of “Temimot”, that the full day should be counted (as we explained last week). Tosafot (ad. loc. s.v. Zecher), in turn, cite a dispute between the Behag and Rabbeinu Tam whether counting the Omer during the day is acceptable B’Diavad (post facto). This dispute hinges on the unresolved Tannaitic debate whether it is acceptable B’Diaved to perform Ketzirat HaOmer (cutting of the barley for the Korban Omer) during the day of sixteenth of Nissan (although all agree that ideally it should be performed on the night of the sixteenth of Nissan). This issue continued to be debated throughout the time of the Rishonim and no consensus opinion emerged during this period. Hence, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 489:7) adopts a compromise view that if someone forgot to count the Omer at night, he should count the Omer the next day without a Bracha. Interestingly, Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Yalkut Yosef 5:424) notes the practice in Jerusalem for everyone to count the Omer in Shul in the morning without a Bracha, in case someone forgot to count the Omer the previous evening.

  • Excellent! But why would the obligation still be at night? – rosends May 31 '16 at 12:54
  • @Danno As opposed to what? – Double AA May 31 '16 at 12:56
  • @Danno I will add a pointer to a posting as to why it must be done at night. There is a Behag that seems to say that one may recite with a bracha during the day, but most rishonim disagree. It appears that is based on the cutting of the omer which is supposed to be done the night of the sixteenth of Nisan. – sabbahillel May 31 '16 at 12:59
  • @DoubleAA if one who forgets the bracha can count in the day, once one is starting without the bracha I was curious whether one could simply count during the day. Apparently not (h/t x2 to sabbahillel) – rosends May 31 '16 at 13:01
  • @Danno "one who forgets the bracha can count in the day" This is not true. You seem to be confused about how blessings on Mitzvot work. They aren't the Mitzva. If you forgot the blessing, then you are just done. The Mitzva is done. No make-up. – Double AA May 31 '16 at 13:02
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There's no such thing as "counting with a bracha" and "counting without a bracha". The Mitzva is to count.

Blessings on (just about) all Mitzvot are separate rabbinic obligations. Whether or not a blessing is said on a Mitzva is a separate question from if there is a Mitzva (some Mitzvot never have blessings!). A Mitzva done without its requisite blessing (if there is one) is still completely effective. As such we generally only say the blessing when we know for sure we are fulfilling the Mitzva, because there is "little" to gain by saying it, and much to lose (Berakha Levatalla -- blessings in vain).

So now just learn the laws of when one is obligated to count the Omer (or whatever other Mitzva you are interested in). If you are for sure obligated, include the blessing. If not, better to omit the blessing.

Some highlights of such a study would include: Most Rishonim assume that one is obligated to count that day's Omer at some point over the 24 hours of each day between Pesach and Shavuot. There are a few Rishonim (eg. Tosfot Menachot 66a) who hold that the Mitzva only applies at night because that's when the barley for the Omer offering was reaped. There is a variant text of the Behag (quoted as a "wonder" in that Tosfot) which says if you miss a day then the obligation ends.

Ok. So if in accordance with most opinions you are counting during the daytime or after you missed a day, better (at least according to the Shulchan Arukh OC 589) to just omit the blessing because it's possible according to certain minority opinions that you aren't fulfilling the Mitzva. Similarly, if you don't remember if you counted already that day, go ahead and count, but leave out the blessing. (Ideally, of course, you'd avoid situations of doubt and fulfill the Mitzva according to everyone by counting every day and always at night.)

The Terumat HaDeshen (#37) writes that if you aren't sure if you missed a day, then you don't need to worry about the opinion of the Behag, since it's only a doubt about a minority opinion and we don't need to be that worried about Berakha Levatalla. This is the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh (OC 589:8). Counting one day during the daytime (or any other doubtful counting) is no worse than being unsure if one counted at all (Levush, etc., ibid.) and one should proceed to further days as if they are for sure obligated to count.

  • I think your first sentence is an overstatement, but otherwise +1. – WAF May 31 '16 at 16:21
  • @WAF I mean, it's literally ambiguous, so you could read it as false ('I did count and said a Bracha on the counting') but it's meant (and I think contextually the rhetorical purpose is clear) in the sense that the counting doesn't have some different Chalot because of the Berakh, which on the face of it is true. (I know things are always more complicated and there are Rishonim who counted in the blessing itself...) – Double AA May 31 '16 at 16:56

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