Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Safeik Brachos l'Hakeil

The general rule is "safeik brachos l'hakeil" -- when in doubt, don't make the bracha.  This is, of course, a special case of "safeik d'rabanon l'hakeil".  There are two reasons this is only a general rule and not "the rule".  First, there are one and half brachos except birkas hamazon and probably birkas hatorah are d'rabanon .  Second, there is Shmone Esrei, which is certainly d'rabanon, but even so we are not meikel in many cases of doubt (such being unsure if you said "mashiv ha'ru'ach u'morid ha'geshem" for a few weeks after the switch).  For now we are going to focus on the general case.

It should first be noted that "safeik" does not mean I am not sure what to do, it means when all is said and learned there remains an open discussion of what is the correct answer.  That is, either there are poskim on both sides of the issue, or the gemara itself leaves open how to to act.  If the doubt is due to my being an ignoramus, then I need to fix that first.  The Mishna Brura notes, for example, that if one doesn't know the appropriate bracha for a food, then don't eat it until you do know.  (That is, be at least as careful with the "HaShem, your Creator and Loving Father in Heaven Who Knows and Wants What's Best for You" diet plan as you are with your "Southbeach" diet.)

S'firas haOmer is a great place to start.  First, there is a safeik about whether "t'mimos" (complete) means you have to allow a complete day to finish before counting the next one, or if it means you need to could all 49 days in order to fulfill the miztvah.  That leads to two kinds of "safeik brachos l'hakeil".  First, because we might need a complete day, you should not count till night fall (tzeis hakochavim).  On the other hand, if you count before the end of the day, ie, during bein hashmashos (between sundown and dark), then you might have counted.  That's why if someone asks you during that time what the day is, you should answer with the count of the previous day.  However, if you do give them that days count, you can no longer count with a bracha.  Safeik brachos l'hakeil.

What if you forget (or whatever) to count one whole day?  Since we might need all 49 days, you can no longer count with a bracha.  You should, of course, continue counting -- the bracha and the mitzvah are two different things.  It is, in fact, a bit of a wonder that people are so makpid on "safeik brachos l'hakeil", but quite blissfully ignore "safeik d'oraiso l'chumra"!  That is, s'firas ha'omer now a days may be d'oraiso, so if there is any chance at all that you can fulfill it, you should.  We have precious few positive torah commandments that can be performed these days, don't take a chance!

What about if you aren't sure if you missed a day of counting or if you haven't yet counted but it is still bein hashmashos?  Now you have a doubt within a doubt.  Stay tuned....

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…