From the Rav’s Desk: Signaled the Sefira with one’s hand

Question: [Tuesday, 25th Nissan, 5782]

My friend asked me as to which day of Sefira it is, and I signaled with my fingers the amount of days. It was the eighth night and so I showed him eight fingers. I had yet to count Sefiras Haomer that night and was wondering if I messed myself up by doing so and if I can still count with a blessing?



You have not fulfilled your obligation in any way through signaling the day of Sefira using your fingers and hence you are to count the Sefira with a blessing.

Explanation: It is a clear ruling in the Talmud and Poskim that all mitzvah’s require verbalization, and the same applies regarding the counting of the Sefira that one must verbalize the count using his lips, and thinking the count in his mind is worthless. Accordingly, the fact that he thought the number of Sefira in his mind and signaled it to his friend is meaningless. The signaling itself is also meaningless being that it is similar to mere thought, and is certainly not considered verbalization of the mouth. Now, although there are some Poskim who rule that writing the day of Sefira fulfills one’s obligation, just as some Poskim rule regarding the mitzvah of learning Torah that even the writing of Torah requires a blessing beforehand, nonetheless, one cannot compare writing a statement which is a detailed action, to the signaling of a number using one’s fingers. Furthermore, one only fulfills his obligation if he says the word Hayom prior to counting, and since he did not say this word when signaling the day using his fingers, therefore he does not fulfill his obligation, even if we were to say that signaling with one’s finger is similar to writing according to those Poskim who validate it.

Sources: See regarding the need to verbalize Mitzvos and that thinking does not suffice: Admur 62:3; Michaber 62:3; Brachos 20b; See regarding the need to verbalize the count, and that thinking it is not enough: Admur 489:21 “As he said a lie, as today is the 4th day and he verbalized that it is the 5th day. Now, although he had in mind to say the 4th day, it is meaningless, as the Mitzvah of counting Sefira is fulfilled only with ones mouth.”; Peri Chadash 489:6; Biur Halacha 489:4 “Moneh Veholeich”; Implication of M”A 489:12; Bach; Levush; Birkeiy Yosef 489:14; Rav Akiva Eiger 29-32; Chasam Sofer 6:19; Kesav Sofer Y.D. 106; Shaareiy Teshuvah 489:6; Aruch Hashulchan 489:9; Nitei Gavriel 33:4; So can also be implied from the discussion of knowing the number of the count prior to counting: See Admur 489:18; Michaber 489:5; Tur in name of Ravayah; See also regarding the invalidation of one who counted in a dream: Lev Chaim 3:26; Tzitz Eliezer 20:27; Orchos Chaim 489; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489:11; See regarding if one fulfills his obligation with writing the Sefira: No: Birkeiy Yosef 489:14; Rav Akiva Eiger 29-32; Chasam Sofer 6:19; Kesav Sofer Y.D. 106; Shaareiy Teshuvah 489:6; Aruch Hashulchan 489:9; Yes: Magen Shaul 20; Shvus Yaakov 1:30; Kol Eliyahu 1:30; Agurah Beahalecha p. 11; Opinion in Birkeiy Yosef 489:14 that it is possibly valid; 1st opinion in Admur 47:3 regarding Birchas Hatorah; See Kaf Hachaim 489:27-28 and 84; See Kaf Hachaim 489:27-28 and 84; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489:11; See Admur 47:3 regarding Birchas Hatorah; See regarding the need to recite the word Hayom when counting in order to fulfill his obligation: Admur 489:7 and 14; Taz 489:7; M”A 489:9; Mamar Mordechai 489:6; Shalmei Tzibur p. 296; Derech Hachaim 9; M”B 489:20; See Kaf Hachaim 489:53 Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that even if one did not say the word “Hayom:Today” he fulfills his obligation. [Elya Raba 489:13; Chok Yosef 489:18; Mamar Mordechai; See Kaf Hachaim ibid; Shaar Hatziyon 489:25]

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