# Mathematical Expressions in Sefira Counting

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• #591655
WolfishMusings
Participant

A few weeks ago, as we were davening Ma’ariv, my son missed hearing what the Chazan said when he counted sefirah. So, in order to confirm what night it was before he counted, he asked me “Tonight’s 16 plus 1, right?” He did this in order to avoid any problems with being able to make a bracha, since he had not yet counted for that evening.

That little episode got me thinking.

When we count, there is nothing magical about saying the words “shnayim v’arbaim,” right? After all, the mitzvah could be fulfilled in any language. Saying “Today is 42 days…” is just as effective as saying “Hayom shnayim v’arbayim yom….” The idea is to express verbally the proper count, regardless of the language used.

That being said, what would happen if one were to say “Today is the six times six plus six days…?” That expression still evaluates to 42 days. Hypothetically, would my son have had a problem because he said “sixteen plus one” before he counted sefirah for that evening?

The Wolf

(Yes, I understand this is not the proper forum for a p’sak halacha. I’m just curious what people here think. Obviously CYLOR in case of a real sha’aila.)

#941740
chesedname
Participant

6×6 isn’t a number, hence no problem in saying it.

as a matter of fact if someone asked you what’s tonight’s number and you just say 36, many poskum say you can still say the bracha as all you said was a number.

imagine someone owes you 36.00 and he asks you how much do i owe you. you’ll respond with 36, ooops i can’t count sefira tonight.

so in order to do it right you have to say “tonight” is number 36

#941741
WolfishMusings
Participant

No, I understand that. The question really is, what if someone (for whatever reason) were to say “Today is six times six plus six days…?”

IOW, since there is no requirement to say it in Hebrew, can we construe “six times six plus six” to be the same as saying “forty two?”

The Wolf

#941742
chesedname
Participant

he would not be atsa (however it’s spelled)

#941743

I surmise he WOULD be Yotzi. You are yotzi in any language as long as you understand that you are counting days and understand the number of days. I don’t see why “any language” should not include a basic mathematical language. So I would think.

#941744
squeak
Participant

I believe that this is discussed in SA or MB explicitly. I further believe that what your son said would qualify as counting. I think that “Tonight is x” or “Tonight is y+1” are considered equivalent.

This reminds me of a story (though I’m not sure if this belongs in this thread, the jokes thread, or the pranks thread). On the second night of Pesach during Maariv, one fellow walks over to his friend and asks, “Can you be moitzie me with the bracha for sefira? I missed a night.” His friends asks with surprise, “How could you have missed a night? Tonight is the first night!” At which the first fellow beams and replies, “Now I will be moitzie YOU with the bracha!”

#941745
volvie
Member

The proper way of describing today’s day of the Omer without being Yotze (so that you can still count with the brocho) is to say “yesterday was the 16th day.”

#941747
WolfishMusings
Participant

The proper way of describing today’s day of the Omer without being Yotze (so that you can still count with the brocho) is to say “yesterday was the 16th day.”

Yes, Volvie, I know that. Except here, I did not initiate the conversation — my son did.

The Wolf

#941748
WolfishMusings
Participant

My family has to put up with my awful jokes. One I tell every year (so much so that my wife waits for it ðŸ™‚ ) is that toward the end of the second seder, I will remind everyone to count sefirah, adding in “last night was zero.”

The Wolf

#941749
oomis
Participant

Wolf, that is really funny.

#941751
snibril
Member

This could lead into all sorts of interesting ???? ????’s in unresolved mathematical theorems!

e.g. Today is the “48th Mersenne prime modulo 49 + 1″th day

#941752
tobg
Member

It seems like you cant rely on any computations and have to say it straight because “yesterday was 16” is also obvious but we are allowed to use it. In fact saying “tonight is 6 + 6 * 6” may be confusing to some and may cause errors (notice that i wrote your equation differently and a lot of people have a problem getting the right answer this way).

When we say the number it has to be obvious even to our chinuch age kids.

#941753

What constitutes a language?

“Tonight is the 0011001100110110 night of the Omer”???

#941754
tobg
Member

Derech HaMelech,

If i wake you at 3am and ask you what the next number after 0011001100110110? If you tell me the right answer then i’ll agree that you are fluent in binary language and can count sefira with it.

#941755

I don’t know if I’d get the answer at 3am but along the same lines I probably wouldn’t get it in Spanish either.

#941756
bezalel
Participant

That’s easy, 0011001100110111 but I know how to add in binary faster than I can convert binary to decimal. Even before converting to decimal I knew something was wrong if you were counting that high, you are supposed to stop after 110001.

#941757
Avram in MD
Participant

Wolf,

When we count sefirah, we mention the number of days, and also the weeks and remainder. In a sense, counting like “today is the 44th day… 6 weeks and two days…” is equivalent to saying (6 * 7) + 2 days. So counting via mathematical formula is already built in.

That said, since the Torah mentions counting the omer via days and weeks, I’m not sure if multiplying by a non-week number would suffice, since it would be like saying, “today is 4 periods of 11 days and no days of the omer…” which puts the focus on something other than a day or week. But it ultimately does add up to the right number of days, one may have fulfilled the mitzvah by saying it like that (though lechatchila not in the best way to do it)… so I guess one would have to ask a shaila at that point whether they can count with a bracha. I can hear the Rav now, “you did what???”

#941758
popa_bar_abba
Participant

Once, I counted the wrong day knowing it was the wrong day but with kavana to be yotzei. I was actually wrong and it was the right day.

Was I yotzei?

#941759
Sam2
Participant

You were Yotzei Popa but it would not hurt at all to count again without a Bracha afterwards.

Counting in math should not count. Saying today is 16+1 is really just saying that today is the day after the sixteenth.

There is an interesting Beur Halachah in Siman 65 (I think, somewhere around there) where he brings down from a Ritva I believe that a language only counts as a language (other than Hebrew and Greek) if it is the spoken tongue by the majority of people is one’s country (it’s also possible that country can be made smaller here; e.g. French might count in Quebec and English in the rest of Canada). No one holds like this, but we can still learn from it that you need to speak in an actual language. Mathematical formulae are a way to describe things, but should not count as a “spoken language”. Similarly, one should not be Yotzei if he counted in Esperanto or a similar made-up language that no one actually speaks. Something like that, and certainly binary, should not have the Halachic status of a language.

#941760
YW Moderator-42
Moderator

bump

#941761
Torah613Torah
Participant

Squeak, that was a great story. I just need an opportunity to tell it over in real life now. ðŸ™‚

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