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Thought for the Day: Doing Mitzvos Without Brachos, Particularly Regarding S'firas haOmer

Imagine Ed McMahon knocking at your door and saying, "You've won $10,000,000.00 in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes!  However, due to certain circumstance, we will never be announcing your name as one of our winners.  The money is your's to keep, we just won't be announcing that."  First of all, yes, I know he is dead; honestly, though, unless your initials are "J. C." and you are not the head of some religion, how much does that change the odds of that happening?  Secondly (just humor me, please), how likely would you be to say, "You won't announce that I've won?  Harumph!  In that case, I refuse to take the money!"  (At this point, if you answered anything other than "slim to none", then you can skip the rest of this post, as you are patur from mitzvos anyway.)

Yet, that's pretty much the situation ("sitch", for those of you who don't know who Ed McMahon is) when people find out that they can no longer count s'fira (or perform any other mitzvah; this just happens to be a common occurance) with a bracha.  Certainly there is a mitzvah to make brachos when appropriate, but failure to recite a bracha never causes one to lose out on the mitzvah.  In fact, if one is not allowed to say a bracha (for whatever reason), then by not saying the bracha one is also fulfilling the mitzvah of listening to Chazal.

I was asked recently (yep, isha chashuva) the following cool question:
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?
There are really two issues here.  One, does the girl need to follow her husband's custom in this area?  Two, why don't S'fardi women make brachos on  mitvos asei sh'zman grama.  On the first issue, I have a little experience, as one of my daughters is intermarried; she married a ben torah who davens nusach s'fard.  She switched, but was told later that if her husband wasn't makpid, she didn't need to.  There marriage is such that he said, "Of course, I'm not makpid!", and she said, "Of course I want to daven my husband's nusach!"

However, the second issue is more serious.  The machlokes M'chaber and Rema is based on a machlokes rishonim on how to understand "v'tzivanu".  The M'chaber reads it as "and commanded us  [me and the other Jews who are not patur]".  The Rema reads it as, "and commanded us [the Jewish people]".  So according to the M'chaber, for a woman to say a bracha on a mitzvas asei sh'zman grama would be to make a bracha l'vatala; a quite serious offence.  According to the Rema, however, the nusach is appropriate even though she is patur, so be his guest.

Looks like I have run out of e-paper, so the answer will have to wait...


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