Mourning During the Omer, part II

As I wrote in the previous post, there are two events that we are commemorating by mourning during the omer, and they seem to have happened on different dates. Rabbi Aqiva’s students died in the first part of the omer, while the Crusaders reached Ashkenaz in late Iyar. Depending upon which is event you consider primary, I could see justifying observing either part of omer.

Akiva Miller found 12 different methods all told for observing the omer and posted them to mail-jewish (back before Avodah existed). Looking over his sources, I made slight modifications to produce the following.

  1. The Ari, as per the Shaarei Teshuva 493:8, who is quoted by R’ Eider, “Halachos of Pesach” vol II, pp 330-331. It’s also mentioned by R’ Blumenkrantz, “The Laws of Pesach – A Digest”, 5753/1993 edition, pp 17-2, 17-3, as custom 4a. All of these use the phrase “ad Erev Shavuos” implying that one may get a haircut erev Shavuos during the day. They make no mention of not having to observe Lag Ba’omer.
  2. Same as #1, but ends the morning of the first of the Yemei Hagbala.
  3. Rama 493:2, as per Mishnah Berurah (MB) 493:6 and Bei’ur Halachah “Yeish Nohagim” (BH). In the BH, it is the second custom listed under the first opinion. It’s mentioned in the Igros Moshe (IM; 2nd custom) and R’ Eider (ibid; B), quoting this Rama, Blumenkrantz (ibid; custom 1) and R’ Aharon Fleder in “Moadei Yeshurun”. In the last two sentences of the teshuva, R’ Moshe says that the Rama was giving this opinion for Sepharadim, disagreeing with the Shulchan Arukh (SA; next).
  4. SA 493:2, as explained in the MB (ibid) and BH (ibid; 1st custom in the 1st opinion), the Aruch haShulchan 493:4, Igros Moshe (ibid; 1st custom), R’ Eider (#1) and R’ Blumenkranz (custom 2). [R’ Ken Bloom added in a comment (below) that this “is also the opinion of R’ Ovadia Yosef, found in Hazon Ovadia Hilchot Yom Tov, and in Yalkut Yosef.”]
  5. BH (ibid; second opinion). He takes this as an explanation of #11, and not a separate custom. IM (6th minhag), quoting the Magen Avraham (no reference), however, R’ Moshe holds no one follows this custom. Of the 39 days, 6 are going to be Shabbos, leaving 33.
  6. IM (5th minhag), quoting MB 493:15 from Siddur Derech haChaim. This is the custom of Frankfurt.
  7. Magen Avraham, as per Beer Hetev 493:8, MB 493:15 (who also quotes Chayei Adam), AH 493:6, IM (4th minhag), R’ Eider (C, “There is…”), R’ Blumenkrantz (custom 3b), R’ Felder and is the custom in Elizabeth.
  8. Be’eir Heiteiv 493:3, quoting Or Zarua
  9. R’ Blumenkrantz (custom 3a)
  10. IM (3rd Minhag) quoting the Rama 3 and MA 5, and R’ Felder.
  11. Rama 493:3, first opinion, as explained by MB 493:14 (2nd half) and 493:15 (1st sentence), Beer Hetev 493:7 (quoting the Bach), Beiur Halachah (ibid; 2nd opinion), R’ Eider (C: first 2 paragraphs).
  12. Akiva lists the first two opinions of the Beiur Halachah as (what I rendered into) #4 and #3 above. The BH doesn’t believe anyone holds by the third opinion, so it isn’t listed.

R’ Moshe lists 6 customs, given here as no.s: 4, 3, 10, 7, 6, and 5 (in that order). R’ Moshe says that the Rama paskened against the first of these (i.e. #4), and that in practice, no one follows the last (5). He shows that the other 4 are variations of the same minhag, and therefore one can switch among them without annulling the implied vow of having followed one particular custom.

The two most common minhagim are probably #3 for Ashkenazim or #4 for Sepharadim (which differ over Lag ba/laOmer) and either #10 or #11 (which only differ by whether one mourns the day of Erev Shavuos).

(Key: █ – mourning entire day, ▀ – mourning only at night)

Isru Chag      
24 – 29 Nissan     
1st day R”Ch Iyar     
2nd day R”Ch Iyar    
2-17 Iyar
Lag baOmer  
19 Iyar 
20-29 Iyar  
R”Ch Sivan    
2 Sivan   
1st Yom Hagbalah   
2nd Yom Hagbalah     
Erev Shavuos      

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  1. Ken Bloom says:

    Opinion D is also the opinion of R’ Ovadia Yosef, found in Hazon Ovadia Hilchot Yom Tov, and in Yalkut Yosef.

  2. MP says:

    Minhagei Y’shurun (minhagim of KAJ/”Breuer’s”) says, “The dinim of S’firah, which prohibit weddings and haircuts[,] apply from the day after R’Ch’Iyyar until the day before R’Ch’Sivan, with the exception of LaG BaOmer.” Minhagei Frankfurt (R’Tz’Y’Leitner) quotes Seifer Yoseif Ometz as writing that “issur giluach ulvishas malbushim chadashim ein nohagin raq meiR’Ch’Iyyar v’eilech.” Neither matches option F (which includes 24-29 Nisan). Please verify what RMF actually said in re to Minhag Frankfurt and correct this page as necessary. Thank you.

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