From the Rav’s Desk: Swimming, traveling, and other “dangerous” activities during Sefira

  1. Question: [Monday, 21st Iyar 5781]

Must one avoid doing things of possible danger during Sefira just as avoided during the three weeks, such as to avoid going swimming especially in the ocean and avoid traveling in a plane and the like?


From the letter of the law, there is no substantial worry of danger during the period of Sefira which obligates one to be extra cautious as is accustomed during the three weeks, and therefore one may swim and travel as usual, and so is the widespread custom. Nonetheless, some communities and families are stringent in this regard and treat the period of Sefira similar to that of the three weeks regarding danger and therefore avoid all possibly dangerous activities such as swimming and traveling and the like. According to all, however, during the period of Sefira people must especially avoid performing dangerous activities that are forbidden to be performed according to Halacha due to the obligation to guard oneself. Therefore, any activity that is publicly and medically viewed as a risk of danger and therefore is meant to be avoided by the populace is certainly to be avoided during this period.

Explanation: The Poskim do not record any worries of danger, and consequential matters to beware of, during the period of Sefira. This is unlike the three weeks in which many matters of danger that should be avoided are explicitly recorded. Nonetheless, being that the period of Sefira is associated with severities as written in the works of Kabbalah, and as understood from the Talmud from the fact that the students of Rabbi Akiva died, and from the fact that this is a time of judgment over grain, and a time where the souls are judged in purgatory, therefore some people avoid doing any dangerous activity including swimming and travel. Now, although there have been many cases of drownings and other tragedies that have occurred during the period of Sefira nonetheless, some argue that this does not obligate one to avoid doing such activities as it is possible that these tragedies were associated with dangerous behavior such as swimming in a closed off area and an area without a lifeguard. Nonetheless, at the very least this behavior is to be avoided throughout the entire year and especially during the period of Sefira.

Sources: Divrei Malkiel 3:13; Yalkut Avraham 493; Orchos Rabbeinu 2:95 brought in Nitei Gavriel ibid footnote 15; Minchas Elazar 4:54 [the days of Sefira are days of mercy and kindness]; Nitei Gavriel Pesach 3:56-13

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