Chapter: 3 – Customs of Mourning During the Omer Period

1 – The Reason for These Customs

The days between Pesach and Shavu’ot are days of sorrow, because 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died then. Therefore, we keep some of the customs of mourning during this period, postponing marriages, refraining from taking haircuts, and avoiding dancing, unless … Continue reading

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2 – The Duration of the Mourning Period

There are many customs as to when the mourning period begins and ends. We will mention the four primary ones: 1) The laws of mourning last the entire Omer period. This custom is based on the version of the Gemara … Continue reading

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3 – The Sefardi Practice

According to the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 493:1-2), the customs of mourning begin on the first day of the Omer and last until the morning of the thirty-fourth. This is based on the tradition that reads the Gemara: “R. Akiva’s students … Continue reading

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4 – The Ashkenazi Practice

The prevalent custom among Ashkenazi Jews today in Eretz Yisrael combines several traditions. Most expressions of mourning last until Lag B’Omer, while some continue afterwards. This is based on the tradition that although the plague ended on Lag B’Omer, those … Continue reading

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5 – Weddings and Engagements During the Omer Peeriod

After having discussed the duration of the mourning period, we will now delineate the laws of the various customs in detail. The Ga’onim write that ever since Rabbi Akiva’s students died in the period between Pesach and Shavu’ot, the Jewish … Continue reading

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6 – Haircuts

The Rishonim write that one should not take a haircut during the Omer period. As we learned above (sec. 3-4), Sefardim observe this prohibition until the morning of the thirty-fourth day of the Omer. Ashkenazim, on the other hand, keep … Continue reading

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7 – Shaving

A question arises regarding the issue of shaving during the Omer period. Is one who shaves [regularly] throughout the year allowed to shave during Sefirah? Many authorities maintain that shaving is included in [the prohibition of] taking haircuts and whenever … Continue reading

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8 – Dancing and Musical Instruments

Since the custom is not to celebrate too much during the Omer period, the Acharonim write that one is forbidden to engage in optional dancing [as opposed to dancing for the sake of a mitzvah] (M.A. 493:1). They also forbid … Continue reading

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9 – Circumcisions, Torah Processions, and Bar Mitzvahs

It is permissible to make a festive meal for the sake of a mitzvah. This includes singing and dancing at the meal, to the degree that is acceptable throughout the year. For example, one may prepare a festive meal for … Continue reading

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10 – Listening to Music on Electronic Devices

Many poskim hold that there is no difference between listening to live music and listening to music on the radio, or by way of any other electronic device; both are forbidden during Sefirah (until Lag B’Omer) and the Three Weeks. … Continue reading

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11 – SheHechiyanu

During the Omer period, one is permitted to buy a new fruit, garment, or piece of furniture and recite the SheHechiyanu blessing over it. True, after the Crusades and the horrific massacres that the Christians carried out during the Omer … Continue reading

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12 – Brief Summary of the Joyous Days of the Omer Period

None of the customs of mourning are practiced on Chol HaMo’ed Pesach, because one is commanded to rejoice on these days, as we explained above, in sec. 8, regarding music. According to some poskim, one may take a haircut on … Continue reading

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