Tuesday, May 19, 2009

sefira or ma'ariv: what should come first?

The minhag is to daven ma'ariv before sefiras ha'omer based on the fact that ma'ariv is more tadir (it occurs more frequently) than sefira (see first Biur Halacha, O.C. 489, quoting Chok Ya'akov). Parenthetical aside: if you daven ma'ariv later than immediatly after tzeis hakochavim, I don't see any reason why you would not count sefira immediatly at tzeis (esp. since sefira ideally requires counting days that are "temimos", complete) rather than wait for after ma'ariv (there is a tshuvah by the Sheivet haLevi along these lines as well). Most people seem to not be careful about this and wait until after ma'ariv, no matter how late, to count.

Getting back to the main point, the gemara (Sukkah 56) has a debate whether the bracha of sukkah or the bracha of zman (she'hechiyanu) is said first when eating in a sukkah for the first time. We pasken like Rav that the bracha of sukkah is said first. The gemara explains that even though the bracha of zman is tadir because it is said more frequently, the bracha of sukkah comes first because it is the special mitzvas hayom.

Question: since the sefira count of each night is the special mitzvas hayom of that night (or at least the time period between Pesach and Shavuos), why should sefira not take precedence over the tadir mitzva of ma'ariv?


  1. Anonymous4:59 PM

    Maybe people wait because there is a halachoh (I cannot cite chapter and verse at this point) that it is preferable to count b'tzibbur, and if one counts before maariv, in all likelihood one will count without a tzibbur present.

  2. I have heard this sevara before (and IIRC it is mentioned by the Sheivet haLevi), but I do not understand or know of as basis in Rishonim for such an idea. Any ideas?

  3. My talmid and I were trying to figure this out. Is it possible that by Sukkos the question arises because both shehechiyanu and leishev are tied into the day and the stronger connection of leishev takes precedence. Whereas Maariv and sefira are two unrelated mitzvos?

    We look forward to your answer.

  4. Nice idea, but shouldn't that strengthen the question -- if she'hechiyanu which is both more tadir than sukkah as well as also has some connection to the kedushas hayom still takes a back seat to sukkah, kal v'chomer ma'ariv which has no aspect of mitzvas hayom should take a back seat to sefirah?

  5. No> Tadir is the rule in general Mitzvas Hayom wins out only when there is a choice between two mitzvos hayom.

  6. Take Friday night where you have the chiyuv of kiddush and krias shema. KS comes first, even though Kiddush is the mitzvas hayom. Seems to fit what I was saying.

  7. >>>Tadir is the rule in general Mitzvas Hayom wins out only when there is a choice between two mitzvos hayom.

    1) This doesn't fit the gemara. The gemara has a kashe on Rav from the fact that the lechem hapanim (not mitzvas hayom) was distributed before the shtei halechem (mitzvas hayom). L'shitascha, there is no kashe -- Rav only gives precedence to one mitzvas hayom vs. another mitzvas hayom, but not vs. a pure tadir.

    2) M'sevara I don't understand it -- when no mitzvas hayom is involved you give precedence to tadir, so why should tadir not determine which of two competing mitzvos hayom take precedence?

    >>>KS comes first, even though Kiddush is the mitzvas hayom.

    V'hi gufa kasha -- so you have another case in addition to the ma'ariv vs. sefira case, but how does it work? Also, this case is far less of a proof -- once the chiyuf of KS kicks in you are prevented from eating and m'mails can't say kiddush.

    I like your sevara, but I'm not convinced yet. Keep pushing : )

  8. I don't have a good answer yet but an thinking you can say a balebatish sevara that sefira is not really a mitzvas hayom because each day may be a unique number, but the mitzva of counting is not unique to the day.

  9. Anonymous4:30 PM

    you asked for basis in rishonim: chok yaakov and beir heteiv bring shlah that tzibbur is preferable. also see rav moshe o c 4 99 about the chok yaakov

  10. Shlah is a Rishon?

  11. Ok. We have been doing some research.

    One thing to consider is, what is meant by Mitzvas Hayom? Tosfos, as understood by the Tzelach seems to understand Mitzvas HaYom as something that must be done on that day. As such, Shechiyanu is not a mitzvas HaYom as it could have been said before Succos when the Succah was built. If that is the definition of mitzvas Hayom, then could one not argue that Maariv is a mitzvas Hayom just as much as Sefiras haOmer is? If so, then the rule of tadir comes back into play and your question goes away.

    The Meiri on the other hand, seems to say something similar to what we suggested yesterday. He says we say Tadir only when it is two birkos HaMitzvos. If there is a chovas hayom (like Succah, Ner Chanukah etc.) then Chovas Hayom comes before shechiyanu, as we see by Yaknehaz.
    Is he saying that shechiyanu is not a mitzvas hayom at all, or just secondary to leishev Basucca?

  12. Anonymous8:11 PM

    not a rishon but enough for psak since mainstream poskim bring it

  13. >>>not a rishon but enough for psak since mainstream poskim bring it

    let me make my Brisker netiyos clear - im kabalah, nekabeil, but in terms of lomdus, unless you have an explanation, it doesn't do me much good.

    Pesach - The Tzlach sevara sounds like it works. Re: the Meiri, I think you have to say she'hechiyanu is not a mitzvas hayom -- isn't that implicit in the sugya?