Various Minhagim related to Sefiras HaOmer Part II
By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a
A. Making a Shehechiyanu
From the Halachic perspective, there is nothing to prevent a person from saying a bracha of Shehechiyanu during this period, which is not comparable to the three weeks of mourning (bein Hametzarim), where one has to actively prevent himself from making a Shehechiyanu. The days of the Sefirah are only a remembrance to mourning the students of Rabi Akiva that passed away.
However, there are those that hold not to make a Shehechiyanu – i.e. not to eat a new fruit or wear new clothing.
In Practice, one who has a previous minhag not to make Shehechiyanu because of the minhag of his community, or he clarified the Halacha himself making the stringency not to say Shehechiyanu, then he should not change his minhag. However, if the reason that a person made such a stringency is because he only thought that it was the Halacha not to make a Shehechiyanu, then it is permissible for him to change his minhag allowing him then to make a Shehechiyanu going forward.
One who in fact has no minhag whether or not to make a Shehechiyanu, has no obligation to prevent himself from making a Shehechiyanu. However, in regards to a new fruit, if one can wait to make the Shehechiyanu on Shabbos, then he will find blessing.
Even according to those who hold not to make a Shehechiyanu, they do in fact hold to make a Shehechiyanu on Shabbos, Chol Hamoed Pesach and Lag B’Omer. There are also those that permit making a Shehechiyanu from Rosh Chodesh Sivan onwards. It would appear then, that anyone who has a specific need, can make a Shehechiyanu throughout the period of the Sefirah.
B. New Clothing
i. There are those that hold not to wear new clothing throughout the Sefirah. This minhag is not mentioned what-so-ever in the Halachic writings. In practice then, it would depend on one’s minhag as outlined above.
ii. Even according to those who hold not to make a Shehechiyanu on clothing, there are a few days in which to permit it. i.e on Chol Hamoed Pesach, Shabbos and Lag B’Omer itself.
- Some permit it from Pesach until Rosh Chodesh Iyar, whereas others permit it from Rosh Chodesh Sivan until the end.
- Clothing that is not deemed important enough on which to make a Shehechiyanu are of course allowed by those that hold this way.
- For specials needs or times (Bris Milah, Barmitzvah etc), for reasons of discomfort or for reasons of Honor bestowed upon certain important individuals.
- With regards to a minor below the age of Chinuch, it is obvious that they are excluded and it would appear that even for minors who are of the age of Chinuch, it would be allowed.
- It would appear then, that those who hold not to make a Shehechiyanu would permit one to buy new clothing on condition that one would only wear it after the Sefirah.
C. Miscellaneous other Minhagim
i. One is allowed to buy new utensils and articles even if one would have an element of joy from this.
ii. It is permissible to move into a new apartment. However, there are those that specifically prevent themselves from doing so. One who has no pervious tradition to do this should not be stringent in this matter.
Iii. It is permissible to repair and paint one’s dwelling in these days.
Note: Those in Eretz Yisrael who travel to Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Lag B’Omer, should be careful when using or reserving public transport, not to leave immediately following Shabbos (as it falls out this year), because it could cause the driver and those working for the transport company to desecrate Shabbos, Heaven forbid (and this applies even if the Driver is a non-Jew). i.e. There needs to be enough time that would have passed in order that the driver could have left his point of origin after Shabbos to arrive at the place of pickup. Moreover, ones need to be careful that one should not prepare for his trip to Meiron during Shabbos itself (“Hachana”).