The Five Steps of Counting the Omer

Found In: Counting the Omer

Tags: meditation

By Carol Ochs, edited by Lori Lefkovitz | Ritual Component

Counting the Omer traditionally consists of five distinct steps: opening with a meditation, saying the blessing, reciting the count, reading Psalm 67, and closing with a prayer on behalf of those still in captivity. This ritual is typically practiced at night, and in some traditional communities, it is a custom not to work from sunset until dawn during the period of counting the Omer. And, among Sephardim, there is an especially strong custom that women not work at night during the Omer.

1. Meditation before counting

The following traditional meditation is meant to be said in the first-person-singular form. Nevertheless, almost no prayer book offers women this meditation in “grammatically correct Hebrew” because it is written exclusively in masculine language (and Hebrew is a gendered language). Kolot is pleased to offer this meditation in both masculine and feminine forms.

Feminine: Hineni muchana umzumenet lekayem mitzvat aseh shel sefirat ha'omer kemo shekatuv batorah:

Masculine: Hineni muchan umzuman lekayem mitzvat aseh shel sefirat ha'omer kemo shekatuv batorah:

Continuation of both: u-s'fartem lachem mi-mochorat ha-Shabbat mi-yom havi'achem et-ha'omer ha-tenufah sheva Shabbatot temimot tiheyenah: Ad mi-mochorat ha-Shabbat ha-shevi'it tisperu chamishim yom ve-hikravtem minchah chadashah l'Adonai.

Here I am, ready and prepared to count the Omer, as it is written in the Torah: "You shall count from the day following the day of rest, from the day you brought the sheaf of the wave-offering, seven full weeks shall be counted; you shall count fifty days to the day following the seventh week."

2. Say the blessing

Feminine God language: B'ruchah at Yah Eloheynu chay ha'olamim asher kideshatnu bemitzvoteha vetzivatnu al sefirat ha'omer.

Masculine God language: Baruch atah Adonai Eloheynu mekor chayim asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al sefirat ha'omer.

Blessed are you, Eternal One our God, source of all life, who has made us holy with your mitzvot, and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.

3. Recite the count

Today is the ___ day of the Omer, which is ___ weeks and ___ days of the Omer.

4. Read Psalm 67

Psalm 67, which consists of seven verses and, in the original Hebrew, forty-nine words (like the number of days we are counting), is central to the counting of the Omer, allowing us to see that the earth is already blessed and that people in many different ways have come to this understanding.

  1. God, bless us with your grace and care, and make your face smile on us!
  2. For then the earth will recognize your presence, and all the nations will know your saving power.
  3. May all nations praise you, O God, may all nations praise you!
  4. Let the nations shout and sing for joy, you grant justice to the peoples, on earth you guide the nations.
  5. May all nations praise you, O God, may all nations praise you!
  6. The soil has given its harvest; our God has blessed us.
  7. May God continue to bless us; and let God be embraced to the very ends of the earth.

5. Close with a prayer

Li-zecher yetzi'at mitzrayim yehi ratzon sheh-yishuchreru kol ha-shevuyim hen ba-guf, hen ba-nefesh vi-sheh-neshamesh ke'ezer lizro'a Elohim ha-netuyah likrat cherut.

In remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt, we pray that you release all whose bodies and spirits remain captive and enable us to extend Your outstretched arm in the process of liberation.

Used by permission of the author and Kolot: Center for Jewish Women and Gender Studies, RRC