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Shabbat Parashat Tazria-Metsora| 5765

Ask the Rabbi

Question: If one missed a day of sefirat ha’omer and is now serving as the chazzan for Ma’ariv in a place where it is customary that the chazzan recites the sefira with a beracha out loud, may he do so?
Answer: This matter has been debated by the Acharonim, and it is worthwhile to understand the various, logical arguments and their relative strength to help decide how to act.
 We will start with the assumption that once one misses a day of sefirat ha’omer he may not continue counting with a beracha, because the 49 days constitute one mitzva of counting (Shulchan Aruch, OC 489:8). The Pri Chadash (ad loc.:8) raises a suggestion that although the beracha is inappropriate personally, it is different if he is the congregation’s representative for the public recital of sefirat ha’omer. Then the obligation and the ability to make a beracha may exist on the public level, as it does by Chazarat Hashatz, even if everyone present is capable of saying Shemoneh Esrei himself. Alternately, the Beit Halevi reportedly (see Mikraei Kodesh (Frank) Pesach II, 66) suggested that someone in the minyan can be asked to refrain from making his own beracha and be yotzei with the person who forgot a day. That way, the beracha becomes appropriate based on the rule that one can make a beracha on someone else’s behalf even if the person making the beracha is not doing the mitzva for himself at that time (Rosh Hashana 29a).
 The Pri Chadash (ibid.) rejects these possibilities because the person who forgot a day, assuming he is unable to fulfill the mitzva of sefirat ha’omer, is akin to one who is not obligated in the mitzva. Such a person is incapable of making the beracha to be motzi someone else (Rosh Hashana, ibid.). He reasons that although the person in question is generally obligated in sefirat ha’omer, the fact that he has no practical obligation at this time, makes him equivalent to the following case. The Yerushalmi says that one whose obligation to read Megillat Esther is on 14 Adar cannot read on behalf of those who are obligated on 15 Adar. The Birkei Yosef (489:19) cites (but rejects) those who deny the Pri Chadash’s comparison, as follows. In the case of megilla, the person in question has no obligation to read on that day. In contrast, our chazzan is obligated today and it is just a technical (halachic) impediment that prevents him from fulfilling the mitzva. Rav Frank (ibid.) reasons that since the Talmud Bavli posits that the responsibility to help another Jew fulfill his mitzva (arvut)makes it considered as if he has a personal obligation, the Bavli must reject the aforementioned Yerushalmi. While there is not a clear conclusion on the matter, the majority opinion seems to be like the Pri Chadash, that the person who missed a day should not use the Beit Halevi’s trick to enable him to make the beracha (see Sha’are Teshuva 489:20; Yabia Omer VIII, OC 46). To the contrary, he should have in mind to be yotzei with one who has not yet missed a day.
 One very subjective, pertinent factor is the element of embarrassment. [As we have discussed in the past] kavod habriyot (avoiding embarrassing people, including oneself) has great, halachic weight. Thus, there are those who allow a rav who customarily does the sefira out loud and for whom it would be a disgrace to publicize that he missed a day of sefirat ha’omer,to rely on the very significant opinions among Rishonim that missing one day of sefirat ha’omer does not disqualify the mitzva thereafter (Shevet Halevi III, 96). Someone other than the rav should probably not be so embarrassed, and the rav can pasken for himself. So our suggestion would be that a regular chazzan should preferably pass on to someone else the honor of saying the sefira out loud or perhaps avoid being the chazzan during that period if he will be embarrassed. (Regarding mourners, they usually do not miss days anyway.)
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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.,
Yitzchak Eliezer Ben Avraham Mordechai Jacobson o.b.m.

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