By Rabbi Chaim Chazzan
May one count sefiras ho’omer before davening maariv?
When faced with the opportunity to perform two mitzvos and the question arises which one to do first, there is a general halachic principle “todir vsheino todir – todir kodem” – the mitzvah that is preformed on a more frequent basis should be done first. Therefore maariv, which is said every day of the year, should preferably be davened before sefira.
However, when one is going to daven maariv without a minyan and is concerned lest he forget to count sefira, there are poskim who suggest that he should count when he remembers, even before maariv.
In general, one should endeavor to daven maariv and count sefira at the earliest possible opportunity (to fulfill the mitzvah as soon as possible and, according to some, that the complete day should be counted). However, one who regularly davens at a minyan that takes place a while after tzeis hakochovim, should count sefira after maariv with a minyan, rather than count it alone immediately after tzeis hakovochim.
It is forbidden to eat a meal consisting of more than a kabeitza of bread from half an hour before shkiah. It is a discussion amongst the poskim whether one can rely on rely on those conditions set for eating before reciting shema, namely having a set time for maariv or appointing someone to remind oneself. Therefore, one who davens at a late hour and would like to eat first, can count sefira before eating.
חק יעקב סי’ תפ”ט ס”ק ט”ז; שו”ע אדה”ז שם סעי’ ג, טז, יז (ובביאור הדברי נחמי’ בשו”ת או”ח ע’ סט); פמ”ג שם א”א ס”ק י”ד ועוד פוסקים; שו”ע או”ח סי’ רל”ה ס”ג; דרך חיים קכ”ה ס”ז; שו”ת אג”מ או”ח ח”ד סי’ צט; שבט הלוי ח”ו סי’ נג; משנה הלכות ח”ח סי’ קצ”ג ועוד פוסקים.
Reprinted with permission from Lmaan Yishmeu – a project of Mercaz Anash. To see more articles visit Mercazanash.com