Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SEFIRAT HAOMER: At what time the new day begins?

Yesterday, we explained that the counting of the days of 'omer connects between the Holiday of Pesach, the commemoration of our physical freedom, and Shabuot, the day we received the Tora.  Without getting out of Egypt, it would not have been possible for us to becomes God's chosen people. In Egypt we were, albeit involuntarily, under the command of Pharaoh.  Only once we were set free by Pharaoh (beshallach Par'o et ha'am) we were free to choose being under God's commandment, following His instructions as prescribed in the Tora. 
The days of the Omer are counted at night. Because for us the new day starts at night. 

At what precise time the new day starts and the old day ends is a complicated technical Halakhic matter. 

Very briefly: there are two possible astronomic indicators for the new day:
  1. Sunset. and 2. The appearance of the stars in the dark sky. 
All Rabbis agree that before sunset it is still considered day # 1. And all agree that after three medium stars are visible, it is considered day #2. The time in between sunset and the stars (twilight zone or ben hashemashot) fluctuates between 15 min (13 ½ to be precise!) to 30 minutes or more, depending on many variables (geographic location, year's season, etc.). Regarding Shabbat, for example, we take the strictest stand receiving Shabbat before sunset and ending Shabbat after the stars are visible.

In our community, the starting time to count the 'omer is 15 minutes after sunset. (In exceptional circumstances Rabbis would authorize to do it earlier, but never before sunset).

Preparing ourselves  for Yom HaShoa

Click HERE to watch 
a moving video filmed at the Holocaust memorial in Miami Beach. With Kenneth Treister,  the sculptor/architect of this amazing memorial work of art.