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Forget Me Not

April 25, 2013 | by Mordechai Schmutter

Remembering to count the days between Passover and Shavuot can be tricky. But I’ve got a plan!

Some good news I’d like to share with you: I am still omering (apparently that’s a verb now) with a bracha. (“Omering” refers to the ritual of counting days, one at a time, between Passover and Shavuot, to remind us of a time, way back when the Temple was around, where people knew how to count to 49.) So what’s the secret of my success? I have a system.

I am still omering!

There are a lot of creative ways that people use to try to remember the omer. For example, many people use some sort of mnemonic device, such as their refrigerator. They put a big omer chart on the fridge, the theory being that they’re going to see it all the time, just like all the other things hanging on their fridge that they see all the time, such as their grocery list from Passover, the past three or four shul schedules (each one stuck to the fridge directly over the previous one), and the invitations to weddings that already happened in a totally different country. I can’t tell you how many houses I’ve walked into around Sukkot time, where I found, on their fridge, an omer chart that was crossed off until about Day 29. And anyway, the entire conceit of using your refrigerator only works if you, unlike everyone over age of 45, are willing to actually eat after nightfall. (We count after nightfall, because in Jewish tradition, that’s when the day starts. At bedtime.) So, most likely, you are never going to look at the fridge, on the way to foraging for leftovers, and go, “Hey! Omer!”

But I do know people who do it the other way around. They remember to omer on their own, so they go into the kitchen and read it off the fridge, and then they use that as an excuse to open up the fridge and look around. “Hey! Farfel!”

I think, if you’re going to use the fridge to remind you, you are better off putting your reminder inside the fridge, taped to something you are likely to look for every night, such as the ice cream.

Another way to remember to count is to ask other people to remind you. That way, if you forget, you can blame them. (“This is all your fault! I was counting on you! No pun intended!”) This method is extremely popular with women.

But now, thanks to technology, there are services you can sign up for that will gladly take the blame off of your husband. For example, there’s a service called “Sefirahcount”, which sends text messages to your phone every night. This is really helpful if, like me, you have never quite figured out how to get text messages off your phone, and are pretty sure that it will cost you like sixty dollars a month if you do. And that’s a lot of money to pay, considering you might not be able to understand the messages anyway. (“Don’t 4get 2 0mer <|{:^O ) 2day is the 2enty 4st, which is thr33 w33ks and n0 :~( days 2 the 0mer. LOL, B”H!”) There is also another service called “Sefirah Dial” that will call you on your actual phone, and has a whole range of plans you can choose from. Their most expensive plan, at $150 a year, guarantees that a live person will keep calling you over and over until you pick up, and then will personally count with you.

The issue with both of these plans, of course, is that they can’t reach you on Shabbat. The best they can do is call you after Shabbat and go, “Sorry, you missed it.” And then they’ll pro-rate your bill. Although I think that, for 150 dollars, they should actually walk over to your house on Friday nights.

That’s actually one of the biggest forgetting nights, though – Friday night. Especially if you pray early, and the president just announces in shul that you should remember to omer after the meal. Apparently, the president doesn’t know you very well. Or maybe he does, which is why he announces it again on Shabbat morning:

“Last night we counted 42.”

“Who’s we?”

So this year, I’ve come up with a way to remember that has worked so far for almost – well, let’s just say that last night was 32. But bear in mind that this won’t necessarily work for everybody. My theory is that the reason we forget is that there’s such a small window to remember. It’s like birthdays. So many times I tell myself:

“Okay, in three days I have to call my mother and wish her a happy birthday!”

“Okay, now two days.”

“Okay, tomorrow. One more day. I’m gonna call.”

And then the next thing I know, my wife is saying: “Hey! Wasn’t your mother’s birthday last week?”

But my point is that there’s a small window – you can’t count too early, and you can’t count too late. Even if you remember early, you can’t do anything about it; you have to wait around and risk forgetting about it.

My foolproof plan: mints.

So what I do, at some point in the afternoon, as soon as I remember, is I put a small box of breath mints in my shirt pocket. That way I make annoying noises when I walk, like a cow, and when my wife goes, “What’s that making noise in your pocket?” I can say, “Oh, right. Omer.” And then I have a mint. And even if no one stops me, I’m anyway going to check my shirt pocket every night before I throw it in the laundry.

But of course, this method won’t work for everybody. The only reason it works for me is because, thanks to my wife’s constant advice (it’s not nagging, it’s constant advice), I change my shirt every day. If I kept my mints in my pants pocket, for example, the only thing they would do is remind me when it’s time to vote.

But it doesn’t really matter what you do to remember. What matters is that you have some kind of reliable system, and that you don’t forget. Shavuot is all about remembering. Like remembering to buy flowers, for a change. Or remembering, when you’re budgeting time for cooking, that you’re best starting about a week before Shavuot, (especially if you’re attempting to roll homemade sushi, which takes longer than actually cooking the fish,) so that you have time for a nap. (Shavuot is very tiring. Especially the part where you stay up all night studying Torah.) Speaking of memory, I do not remember the last time I actually managed to fit in that nap. It’s like Shavuot always sneaks up on me. For some reason, I never see it coming.


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