Friday, April 9, 2010

MINHAGUIM OF SEFIRAT HAOMER: Today is the 10th day of Omer (1 week, 3 days)

25th of Nisan, 5770

From the end of Pesach until the 33rd day of the Omer we have the tradition of keeping certain customs of mourning, in memory of the twenty four thousand students of rabbi Akiva who died in that period of time in the years 130 ACE.

The following is the summary of the Minhagim and traditions that are followed in the Mashadi community.

1. Weddings or engagements are not allowed during the days of the Sefira, but in our community it’s customary to allow an engagement (Namzadi) to take place during Rosh Chodesh Iyar .

2. The first day to allow the performance of a wedding, according to the Sephardic Minhag, is on the 34th day of the Omer while in the Ashkenazi Minhag is on the 33rd.

3. Men are not allowed to get a haircut during the days of the Sefira until the 34th day of the Omer. Women are not subject to any restriction regarding their hair.

4. In our community it is customary not to wear any new clothing for which one would regularly say the Berakha Shehecheyanu. Since this custom is not mentioned in the Shulchan Arukh there is some leniency to it. For example: If a specific new garment will not be available after the Omer or if the price will increase after Lag baOmer it is permitted to acquire the new clothing. If the new clothing is much needed it can be worn on Shabbat for the first time, saying Shehecheyanu for it. Buying new clothing for a wedding is permitted, for the bride the groom and their immediate family. Buying new clothing for a Brit Milah is also permitted for the family.

5. Buying a new house is permitted, but if possible, one should move into it only after Lag baOmer. If one does not have a house or an office he can move into the new property even before Lag baOmer. It is not forbidden to make a contract or closing a house during these days.

6. During these days one should avoid listen to live music and/or going to a movie theater.

7. In our community the celebration of Yom haAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the re-establishment of the State of Israel overrides the mourning restrictions of the Omer period, thus we celebrate that day with joyous prayers, banquettes, dancing and music.

It is important to notice that all the restrictions we follow in the days of Omer are not associated with any superstitious notions of bad luck or bad Mazal. These Minhaguim are related exclusively to the mourning we keep, honoring the memory of the students of rabbi Akiva.