For some reason, the hardest mitzvah to remember seems to be Sefiras HaOmer.  Which is crazy for a mitzvah that we do 49 times a year. 

And this is after a Yom Tov of remembering things that happened thousands of years ago during which we spent the entire time alternating between asking questions about, “Why do we have to do this every year?  Can’t we remember?” and going, “Um…  What did we do last year?”

In fact, this entire period of the year is all about forgetting.  I forget Pesach Sheni most years until the night after.  “Weren’t we supposed to eat matzah today?  Is it too late?”  It’s a good thing I’m not tamei or anything.  Or b’derech rechokah.

As my son pointed out, “A lot of times the way to remember to do something is to do it in the morning.”  No one forgets Shacharis.

Some people have no problem remembering.  Those people always ask me, “Don’t you go to Maariv?”  So first of all, I mostly go to Mincha/Maariv.  Second, there’s Friday nights, some of which are early.  Third, even when I’m in a shul late enough, sometimes I specifically stand there and don’t count so I can go home and count with my wife, so that she remembers.  And then I come home and we both forget.

The basic solution these days is alarms.  We have devices that allow us to set multiple alarms.  When I was growing up, every device had one alarm.  I could remind myself to get up in the morning or count Omer at night.  That’s it.  Unless I wanted to carry several clocks around.

But nowadays, we have all this great technology that will remind you to count six nights a week.  Seven, if you’re willing to have an alarm blasting in your bedroom on Friday nights. 

Friday nights are the worst.  There’s nothing to remind you; just an announcement at the end of Mussaf the next day, and not only did you forget, you forgot whether you forgot.

And then the first time you make early Shabbos, that’s it.  They announce at the end of Maariv, “Don’t forget to Omer after the Shabbos seudah.”  I don’t remember anything after the Shabbos seudah.  I don’t remember to go to bed.  I fall asleep in the living room and I wake up in my bed the next morning like, “How did I get here?  Are my kids carrying me up like a sofa?”

We know remembering is a problem.  This is why most shuls have the rabbi count every night so as not to embarrass the chazzan, or else the shul will have a hard time finding a chazzan.  The rabbi makes it through Sefirah, and it definitely helps that he’s reminded every night.  Though Friday night is probably super stressful for him.  And who knows how his wife is doing.

And yes, we have reminders everywhere.  Every one of my kids’ schools sent us a chart; we have charts on every surface.  That doesn’t mean we see them.  We also have wedding invitations on our refrigerators from simchas that have already happened.  I still have the Pesach davening schedule up. 

And it’s not just refrigerators -- I also have a chart on the front door of my house.  My kids discovered that our front door is magnetic years ago.  When they were little, they used to play with magnetic letters on the front door, and then someone would knock and it would scare them; everyone would start crying.  I have no idea what the person knocking was thinking.  Also when I opened the door when I came home, I always ran over some kids.  That’s how I discovered it was magnetic.

Also, here’s the thing: Anything that’s up for 30 days you get used to being there.  The Omer calendar is up for two weeks before the Omer even starts.  There has to be a change for you to notice it.  Like maybe part of Sefirah is that you don’t shave, and then every time you look in the mirror when you’re brushing your teeth at night, your beard is a little longer, an you’re like, “Oh, right.  Omer.” 

And yes, I can make minor changes to the papers on the various refrigerators and doors.  I have one paper that I’m supposed to cross off a line when I count, if I remember and if I have a pen on me and if it’s not Shabbos and if no one has yet to count after me, and I also have to remember to go around the house crossing off other lines or moving little magnets around on every reminder.  It’s like changing the clocks.  Right now, every Omer-reminder chart in my house is on a different day. 

I want to get a pillowcase for my bed that says on it in big letters, “Omer!”  I can use it at the Seder the second night and then leave it on my bed until Shavuos, and every night I will come upstairs and see it, unless my wife has already turned off the lights.  In which case I’ll see it in the morning.  Maybe it should glow in the dark.  The rest of the year it would live in the closet and only come out if we have too many guests, so that a guest can lie on it and wonder what’s up with the pillowcase. 

Also, the penalty for missing Sefirah doesn’t really seem like enough.  You missed a night, you can’t count anymore.  Well, you can, but not with a bracha.  It’s not like with bentching, where if you forget Yaaleh V’yavo you have to start over. 

“You missed a night?  You have to start again from 1.  And you can’t celebrate Shavuos until you get to the end.  No cheesecake until you’re done.”

It’s crazy that we can’t keep up Omering with a bracha.  Like you never hear anyone say, “How do you like that?  I made it all the way to the end of Chanukah lighting with a bracha! There were no nights that I forgot, and I was like, “Is it shkiyah yet?  Can I still light for last night?”” 

“What night of Chanukah is it?” 

“Last night was six.” 

And you can say, “Yeah, but Chanukah’s only 8 nights.” 

I don’t think it matters.  Are you saying that everybody who forgets the Omer makes it to the 8th night? 

I think it’s because we actually do something physical for Chanukah.  You can’t forget -- the menorahs are sitting out, and we can see if we added a candle or not. 

I’m not suggesting that we light 49 nights of candles for the Omer – adding one more every night.  By the end, the fires would be huge.  Is that how Lag BaOmer bonfires got started? 

The only other thing we do forget like this is Ushpizin.  “Which day’s Ushpizin is it right now?  Can I still invite yesterday’s ushpizin?  What nusach are we?”  By the end of Sukkos, I can no longer say Ushpizin with a bracha.

And anyway, on Chanukah, even if you forget, there are enough Chanukah parties to remind you.  There are no Omer parties.  That makes it really hard.  The first night we have a Seder, which is kind of a party, and then nothing until the 33rd.  How did you make it to the 33rdSomeone must have been counting.

Relatively speaking, sefirah is so unceremonial.  It’s such an easy mitzvah to do that it’s hard to remember.  You don’t gather your family around the window and sing and sit for a half hour afterwards admiring the numbers…  Maybe we should hang numbers.  It would confuse all the mailmen. 

“Why is every house 32?!  Oh, except this one!”

But clearly, we have to do something to improve our memory.  Like maybe – and I’m not just saying this because we’re Jewish – maybe there’s something we can eat.  And baruch Hashem, I’ve just come across a study that says that consuming wine and cheese may reduce cognitive decline.  Which totally explains how we don’t forget Chanukah.  Though it doesn’t explain the story of the Greek general that Yehudis killed.  Maybe there’s an upper limit on how much wine.

And when else do we have wine and cheese?  Shavuos.  After the Omer is done. Shavuos is when we reduce our cognitive decline.

The only other relevant recent study that I could find is that one thing that helps people remember things in a major way is turning it into a song. 

I mean, we all know Bentching by heart, right?  Because it has a tune.  It’s not a particularly good tune and there is no second more exciting tune for bentching that I know of, but we all know it. 

And think about the parts of davening that most people know by heart – it’s all the ones with songs.  Modeh Ani, the 12th Ani Maamin, Ashrei…  And now think about the tefillos that people don’t know by heart – it’s all the ones without songs.  Hamapil, all the other Ani Maamins, Vehi Noam V’atah Kadosh…  In fact, just look at the difference between the two things you say every Rosh Chodesh – Hallel and Barchi Nafshi.  Which one do you know by heart, even though it’s longer?  That’s why I think more of davening should be songs. 

I am not Litvish.

But then the one thing that can help us remember things – music – is not okay during Sefirah until we’re 33 days in. 

What’s the one day everyone remembers?  Lag BaOmer.  Because there’s music!

And to make matters worse, the only kind of music we do listen to during Sefirah is A Capella songs.  About Chanukah!

Anyway, this has been your reminder to Omer.  Now you just have to figure out how to remember the other 48 nights.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.