Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik
by R. Aharon Ziegler
For the Mitzvah of counting the Omer we first recite the Beracha- “Asher Ki’deshanu Be’mitzvotav….” As we do before any Mitzvah we are about to perform, and then do the Mitzvah of counting.
The Mechaber writes [Orach Chaim 489:1] that on the first night we recite “HaYom Yom Echad”. On the seventh night we add the week, so the recitation goes, “HaYom Shiva Yamim She’heim Shavu’a Echad” In both examples he does not mention the word “Omer” at all. It is the Rama [R’ Moshe Isserles] who adds the word “Ba’ Omer”.
The Mishnah Berurah comments [note 8] that most authorities recite the word “La’Omer”, as does the Ari”e and the Shlah. The Taz agrees with the Rama and uses the word Ba’Omer. The fact of the matter is, that the entire addition of the phrase Ba’Omer or La’Omer is only LeChat’chila, as a Hidur [beautification] of the Mitzvah but BeDi’eved one fulfills the requirement of counting without mentioning either phrase. And that is how the Mechaber holds.
What is the basic difference between “Ba’Omer” and “La’Omer”? Rav Soloveitchik said that the word “Ba’Omer” reflects the connotation that Sefirah is Min HaTorah even today, [which is Shitat HaRambam], and the present period is thus even today called the Omer period. However, “La’Omer” implies that the mechayav [requirement] of Sefirah is the Korban Ha’Omer, which does not pertain today, and thus we use a Lamed, as we count from the time of the Korban Ha’Omer.
Not withstanding the difference, how should one conduct himself when counting the Omer? The Rav suggested that we recite BOTH expressions, [toch kedei dibbur]. In Yeshivat Brisk of Chicago, Rav Aharon Soloveitchik also had the Shali’ach Tzibbur recite both.