Counting La or Ba

From: Wendy in Westcliff, UK

Dear Rabbi,

When counting Sefirat HaOmer, some people say l’omer and some say b’omer. Which is right? Doesn’t the fact that everybody says “Lag b’Omer” prove that “b’omer” is correct and not “l’omer?”

Dear Wendy,

Rabbi Nachman Bulman, of blessed memory, explained that the custom to call the day “Lag b’Omer” is based on the opinion of the main proponents of saying “b’omer” – the Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria) and the Sephardi Kabbalists. Celebrating Lag b’Omer with bonfires, music and dancing is largely rooted in their kabbalistic teachings and traditions.

However, many poskim say that “l’omer” is correct. Since both ways are valid, there is no reason to change one’s custom. In fact, even saying “today is day such and such” – omitting any reference to the “omer” – fulfills the mitzva. (Sh.A., O.Ch. 489:1, M.B. 489:8).

By the way, not everyone calls it “Lag b’Omer”. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid 493:2) refers to it as “Lag l’Omer”.

This reminds me of a story:

Two Jews argued during their entire plane ride to Hawaii regarding the correct pronunciation of their destination.

Upon landing in Honolulu, they asked the first native they met, “Is it pronounced Hawaii or Havaii?”

“Havaii”, he replied.
“Thank you”, they said.
“You’re velcome”, answered the native.

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