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Thought for the Day: Brachos and S'firas HaOmer

Just to recap, we have an interesting sh'eila on the table:
An Ashkenazi bas yisrael (who counts s'fira with a bracha) was getting married during s'fira to a S'fardi ben torah.  Since S'fardi women are not allowed to make brachos on mitvos asei sh'zman grama (time bound positive mitzvos), should she start counting with a bracha?
First we need some facts.  I know, I am no fun.  There are several interesting issues relevant for this sh'eila.

The first issue is whether this is a mitzva asei sh'zman grama.  At first blush, that seems to be a no-brainer.  After all, the counting starts on the 16th of Nissan and continues through the 5th of Sivan.  How much more z'man grama can you get?  It turns out, though, that this is a machlokes rishonim.  The Ramban holds that the counting does not depend on time; rather it depends on hakravas ha'omer (the bringing of the omer offering).  Hakravas ha'omer certainly is time dependent, but the Ramban holds that dependency is not transitive.  We pasken it is time dependent and so women are patur, but it's best not to mess with a rishon if you can avoid it.

Another issue is whether there is one mitzvah to count all 49 days or 49 sub-mitzvos (if you will) to accomplish that task.  That's the source for all of the churn regarding making a bracha if you miss a day.  If it's one big mitzvah, then missing an entire time means that the entire mitzvah has not been fulfilled and cannot be fulfilled.  Therefore, stop making brachos.  The initial brachos are not considered l'vatala, however, because at the time you were accomplishing what needed to be done.  If it's 49 (sub)mitzvos, though, then missing one day is bad, but not the end of the world; nor the end of s'firas ha'omer this year.  That's why if you miss a day you go on counting (maybe it's 49 mitzvos) without a bracha (maybe it's one mitzvah).

What about if you know with certainty that you will miss a day (or more) of counting?  (Yes, time to wake from you slumber and pay attention; we finally got to the question itself.)  The Mishna Brura says that a woman should not count with a bracha because she will surely miss a day.  Halachos Shlomo says that if someone is certain to miss a day -- has surgery scheduled, for example -- that he should count till then with a bracha.  Do we have a machlokes between the Chafeitz Chaim and R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach?

I don't think so.  First of all, the women in R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach's household did not count with a bracha; like the Mishna Brura.  I think it is because of all the doubt, why should a woman put herself into a potential risk of bracha l'vatala.  A man, on the other hand, needs to take that risk.  One thing that helps (my own s'vara) is that men go to ma'ariv each night and so there is lots of help remembering.

As far as what the young lady (now married) did.  She forgot on the first night of chol ha'mo'ed.  Moral: Don't mess with the Mishna Brura.  I made it through the entire s'fira and didn't forget one night... but had to be reminded more than once by my wife.  Moral: Don't mess with my wife.

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