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Women Working & Sefirat HaOmer

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

The Daily Halacha Moment - Women Working & Sefirat HaOmer💁‍♀️

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן ‎העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


Is there a custom that women refrain from performing work after sunset during Sefirat HaOmer?


During the days of the omer, some women have the custom to refrain from performing work from sunset and onward. [1] This custom is meant to commemorate the time when the students of Rabbi Akiva were buried, and the people had to stop working to bury them. Another reason for this custom comes from the pasuk that talks about Sefirat ha’omer — it uses the words sheva shabbatot, and the word shabbatot, whose root is shevut, to rest, suggests the custom to rest during the time when one should count the omer. [2] One who has such a custom should only refrain from work from sunset for the amount of time would have taken to bury the students of Rabbi Akiva. According to some opinions, one only has to wait thirty minutes. [3]

The type of work that one should refrain from performing is particularly difficult and time-consuming work that requires skill, such as knitting and sewing. However, work such as washing the dishes, doing laundry, cooking, and sweeping the house is not included in this custom. [4]

One who does not have such a custom is not required to begin practicing it. Furthermore, even one who has a custom to refrain from work does not have to incur a monetary loss to abide by it. If, for instance, a seamstress will lose money by refraining from her work, she does not have to abstain from sewing. [5]

Adapted From Rabbi Yonatan Nacson's "Laws Of The Holidays"


[1]. Shulchan Aruch §4. See also Mishnah Berurah §18, which adds that there are even some men who have the custom to refrain from work as well.

[2]. Shulchan Aruch HaRav §9; Levush §4; Shaar HaTziyun §16; Aruch HaShulchan §9. See also Birkei Yosef §9, which mentions this custom and states that this was also the custom of men and not just women. However, see Divrei Yatziv, O.C. 216 and Mishneh Halachot 8:216, which cite reasons why men did not adopt this custom.

[3]. See Ohr LeTzion, vol. 3, 17:7, which brings this custom and states that one only needs to wait thirty minutes.

[4]. Kaf HaChaim §54; Chut Shani, Shabbat, vol. 4, p. 376; Kovetz MiBet HaLevi 3, p. 39, 5; Halichot Shlomo, Sefirat HaOmer 11:13.

[5]. See Chok Yaakov §12; Chazon Ovadia, Yom Tov, p. 271; Yalkut Yosef, Moadim, p. 433; Halichot Shlomo, Sefirat HaOmer 11:13, footnote 50; Hichot Chag BaChag, Sefirat HaOmer, p. 104, halachah 42.

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