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The counting of the omer begins on the second night of Passover. Jews in the Diaspora generally integrate this counting into the second seder.
The omer is counted each evening after sundown. The counting of the omer is generally appended to the end of Ma’ariv (the evening service), as well.
One stands when counting the omer, and begins by reciting the following blessing:
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the omer.
After the blessing, one recites the appropriate day of the count. For example:
Hayom yom echad la’omer
Today is the first day of the omer.
After the first six days, one also includes the number of weeks that one has counted. For example:
Hayom sh’losha asar yom, she’hem shavuah echad v’shisha yamim la’omer
Today is 13 days, which is one week and six days of the omer
The blessing for counting the omer, as well as the language for each day of counting, appears in most prayer books at the end of the text for the evening service.
Because the blessing should precede the counting (and not the other way around), many Jews will not say what day of the omer it is until after the ritual counting. Thus, the reminder about what day to count is often phrased as “yesterday was the fifth day of the omer.”
Many people precede the counting of the omer with a meditation that states one’s intention to fulfill the commandment. This meditation serves to focus the individual on the task at hand and to remind him/her of the biblical basis of the commandment:
Hineni muchan um’zuman l’kayem mitzvat aseh shel s’firat ha’omer k’mo shekatuv baTorah: Us’fartem lakhem mimaharat hashabbat miyom havi’echem et omer hat’nufa, sheva shabbatot t’mimot tihiyenah. Ad mimaharat hashabbat hash’vi’it tisp’ru chamishim yom.
Behold, I am ready and prepared to fulfill the mitzvah of counting the omer, as it says in the Torah: You shall count from the eve of the second day of Pesach, when an omer of grain is to be brought as an offering, seven complete weeks. The day after the seventh week of your counting will make fifty days.
Pronounced: ah-doe-NYE, Origin: Hebrew, a name for God.
Pronounced: MITZ-vuh or meetz-VAH, Origin: Hebrew, commandment, also used to mean good deed.