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Counting the Omer

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

Got a DIY box? Here's advice on fillers!

If you're filling it with chametz before Pesach and you need a way to hide the lower drawers, we've got you covered! (oooh, accidental pun. I'm so sorry.)

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What is the Omer?

The Omer is the 49 days between the second night of Pesach (Passover) and the beginning of Shavuot. The word Omer is simply a measurement, like a bushel or a pint (in this case, equal to about a gallon), referring to a sheaf of barley.

Why do we count it?

וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם מִמׇּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת מִיּוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם אֶת־עֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת תְּמִימֹת תִּהְיֶינָה׃
עַד מִמׇּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם מִנְחָה חֲדָשָׁה לַיהֹוָה׃
You will start to count from the night after the first day of the Passover holiday, from the day you bring the Omer that is waved: Seven complete weeks will there be, for you will count up to the day after the seventh week, which day is the fiftieth; then you will offer the first cereal-offering from the new wheat crop to the Eternal.
Leviticus 23:15-16

In the days of the Temple, we were told to bring an offering of an Omer of barley to the Temple on the second day of Pesach. We were then to count 50 days from that offering and bring a new offering to the Temple for Shavuot, around the time of the first wheat harvest.

In the 16th century, a group of Kabbalists in Tzfat connected the seven weeks of counting to the seven lower sephirot and created a framework for self-examination. Much like during the month of Elul before High Holidays, counting the Omer gives us a chance to look inwards at who we are and how we can be the best versions of ourselves.

What happens when we're done counting?

Exactly 50 days after the second day of Pesach is the holiday of Shavuot, one of the three pilgrimage festivals mentioned in the Torah (the other two are Pesach and Sukkot). Shavuot began as a celebration of the first wheat harvest, but also commemorates receiving the Torah. Traditionally, we celebrate with dairy meals and treats, fresh spring flowers, and all-night studying. If you do not currently incorporate Shavuot celebrations into your year, we have some resources for you on our website.


Counting the Days: Growing your Family’s Spirit by Counting the Omer by Lea Gavrieli

Chabad's Omer Counter app. Includes a read-aloud guide to each day's blessing in the Prayer Trainer tab, as well as notification reminders to help you remember to count every day.

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