Today is Sunday, May 31, 2009 -

Day 50 of Omer
Chag Sameach Shavuot!

Feast of Weeks, Feast of Harvest
Feast of First Fruits

Baruch YHWH!

Rabbinical Jews start the counting of the Omer on the day after Passover. Karaites believe the counting of the Omer starts the day after the shabbat that occurs during passover. Let's try to understand what the Torah actually says.

A couple simple verses leading to the first day of Omer starting the day after shabbat during Passover:
- We are to count 7 shabbats which logically points to shabbat as the shabbat, not Passover as the first shabbat -- there are not 7 Passovers. Shavua is hebrew for week - Shavout is afterall interpretted to mean Feast of Weeks. Having the name for week in the Feast name and still interpretting shabbat as week rather than 7th day of rest seems extreme.
- Most revealing is Lev 23:16 where it specifies the fiftieth day being the "morrow after shabbat", which clearly would be a Sunday.
Therefore, the count would begin on the day after shabbat during Passover.

Interestingly enough, those following the lunar calendar would have the same count in the year 2009 since Passover fell on shabbat according to the lunar calendar.

Contrary to popular belief, the Counting of Omer leading to Shavuot (Feast of Weeks/Pentecost) begins after shabbat, not after Passover.

Shavuot (Feast of Weeks/Pentecost) is the Biblical harvest-festival celebrated 50 days after the Sunday which falls out during Passover. These fifty days are called the Counting of the Omer.

A more accurate translation of Lev 23:15-16 follows:

Leviticus Chapter 23
15 And you shall count for yourself from the day after the seventh day of rest (the shabbat - הַשַּׁבָּת), from the day that you brought the sheaf of waving; seven seventh days of rest (a shabbatote - שַׁבָּתֹות) shall there be complete;
16 even unto the day after after the seventh day of rest (the shabbat - הַשַּׁבָּת) shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall present a new meal-offering unto YHWH.

The references to shabbat in these verses specify a definite article using "the shabbat" rather than "a shabbat". The definition of shabbat occurs a few verses earlier in Lev 23:3.

Leviticus Chapter 23
3 Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest (a shabbat shabbathown - שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתֹון), a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of work; it is a sabbath (a shabbat - שַׁבַּת) unto YHWH in all your dwellings.

Leviticus Chapter 23
15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the day of rest (הַשַּׁבָּת), from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the waving; seven weeks (שַׁבָּתֹות) shall there be complete;
16 even unto the morrow after the seventh week (הַשַּׁבָּת) shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall present a new meal-offering unto YHWH.
17 Ye shall bring out of your dwellings two wave-loaves of two tenth parts of an ephah; they shall be of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven, for first-fruits unto YHWH.
18 And ye shall present with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams; they shall be a burnt-offering unto YHWH, with their meal-offering, and their drink-offerings, even an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto YHWH.
19 And ye shall offer one he-goat for a sin-offering, and two he-lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace-offerings.
20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first-fruits for a wave-offering before YHWH, with the two lambs; they shall be holy to YHWH for the priest.
21 And ye shall make proclamation on the selfsame day; there shall be a holy convocation unto you; ye shall do no manner of servile work; it is a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.