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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 20:53:51 -0400 Subject: Shecheyanu and The Sefirah Several recent postings [Vol 26n32-36] discuss Shecheyanu on the Sefirah and cite opinions of the Rav. I actually heard the Rav give a lecture on this and would like to summarize his opinions so as to help clarify the situation. * Originally, we did say Shecheyanu during Sefirah just as we say Shecheyanu on many other Joyous mitzvoth which have no direct monetary or personal loss and this is true whether they are Biblical or Rabbinical: SOme examples are Chanukah, Megillah, Shofar, Lulav etc. Why shouldn't Omer be included? * It is NOW established that we have certain elements of mourning in Sefirah. The standard explanation is that this is due to Rabbi Akibah's 24000 students who died during this period. A secondary explanation is the fact that we no longer have a temple and can't offer the sacrifices (though e.g. the fact that we can't shake Lulav as they did in the Temple or that we can't light the Menorah does not stop us from saying Shecheyanu on Chanukah and Succoth). * The Rav said he felt a 3rd reason (besides the death of Rabbi Akibah's students and the absence of sacrifices) was of primary significance in the mourning during the Sefirah: The Rav explained that many of the atrocities of the Crusades happened around the time of the Omer (since some crusades happened during the summer). The Rav elaborated on this by pointing out 3 things that the crusades lead to: - The Rav said he personally examined prayer books and found that JOY & HAPPINESS (SASON/SIMCHA) was initially in the High Holy day prayer but was deleted around the time of the crusades - Similarly the practice of saying "Kadish Yasom"---Kadish for one's deceased parents originated during the time of the crusades (because of the great number of orphans created) - Finally, the Rav suggested that Shecheyanu was deleted from the Sefirah blessings and some of the mourning customs were intensified because of the crusades. I hope this adds some non standard insights into this topic Russell Jay Hendel; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu