Counting the Omer is a pretty random mitzvah for those of us who wouldn’t otherwise count down the days to the wheat harvest. I mean, I can get next to a mitzvah that gets me excited about the cheesecake holiday, but the actual daily counting of the Omer seems a little silly, and awfully stressful, considering that you have to remember to count every single day from the second day of Passover until Shavuot. If you miss even one day, you’re out of the game (though you can still count without a brakhah).
Since I’m going to minyan every day to say Kaddish, I’m unlikely to lose count this year, but here are a few other ways to keep yourself on track:
We’ll be counting the omer on the MJL homepage, so stop by every day to count with us. You can get an omer counter for your computer, you can sign up to get reminder emails or text messages, or you can make yourself a chocolate omer counter per instructions on Jewschool. You can even count the Omer with Homer Simpson. However, all these methods have flaws. At least in theory, you shouldn’t use technological devices to help you count the omer on Shabbat or Yom tov. And while the counter at Jewschool is nice, it doesn’t remind you exactly what to say, it just reminds you to count. Since a big part of the mitzvah is counting in the correct manner, you’re still kind of left up a creek.
Enter my Omer Counter. It’s easy to make, easy to use, and you can use it on Shabbat and/or Yom Tov without getting yourself in any halakhic trouble.
To make your own you’ll need:
A poster board
Lots of stickers
Take your poster board and make it into a calendar. You need seven columns across, and eight rows. If you’re feeling fancy you can measure to make sure they’re all even, or you can just eyeball it, like me.
Label the top of the columns with the days of the week. Starting on Wednesday night, label each day from one to 49.
Then go back and write in each box the correct way to count for every day. For instance, on Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day, you would write, “Hayom shloshah or shloshim yom, sh’hem arba’ah Shavuot v’hamishah yamim la’omer.” Today is three and 30 days, that is four weeks and five days of the Omer.
Now, hang up your Omer counter in a place where you’ll have to look every single day. In college I put it on the mirror in my dorm room. In my parents’ house it lived right outside the bathroom door. You might also try putting it on the fridge, or on the inside of the front door. Staple a sheet of stickers to the poster in one corner.
Every day when you see the poster stop for a second, say the brakhah, count the omer, and put a sticker on the calendar for the day you’ve just counted. If there are several people living together, each person can be assigned a certain color sticker. Yes, it feels a little like kindergarten, but whatever. It’s a fool proof way of keeping count all the way until Shavuot. You’re welcome.
Pronounced: MIN-yun, meen-YAHN, Origin: Hebrew, quorum of 10 adult Jews (traditionally Jewish men) necessary for reciting many prayers.
Pronounced: MITZ-vuh or meetz-VAH, Origin: Hebrew, commandment, also used to mean good deed.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
Pronounced: shah-voo-OTE (oo as in boot), also shah-VOO-us, Origin: Hebrew, the holiday celebrating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, falls in the Hebrew month Sivan, which usually coincides with May or June.
Pronounced: shlow-SHEEM, Origin: Hebrew, literally, “thirty,” a period of mourning lasting 30 days.