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Why do people always say "*last night* was the x night of the Omer"?

Rabbi Yossi Greisman: Welcome. I'll be with you in a moment...what's on your mind?

Straight: I asked someone what night of the Omer it was, and he answered that "last night was the twelfth of the Omer." Any reason why he couldn't answer straight?

Rabbi Yossi Greisman: Why answer a question directly if you could beat around the bush... Well, actually your knowledgeable friend had good reason for answering in this manner.

Straight: OK...

Rabbi Yossi Greisman: Before performing any Mitzvah we are required to recite a blessing. However, if the Mitzvah was done without a blessing, the Mitzvah still counts -- but an opportunity to bless G-d was squandered.

Straight: Why? Why can't I just do the Mitzvah again and recite the blessing beforehand?

Rabbi Yossi Greisman: Because the text of the blessing states, "Blessed are you... who commanded us to..." Now, you can't truthfully say that G-d is commanding you to do this Mitzvah if the Mitzvah was already done! See what I'm saying?

Straight: So I guess a blessing always must be said before the Mitzvah is performed?

Rabbi Yossi Greisman: Exactly. Actually there are a few exceptions to that rule (aren't there always...), but let's not digress.

Straight: Very nice; but what does this have to do with my question?

Rabbi Yossi Greisman: Patience, we're getting there :)

Rabbi Yossi Greisman: So, if you're friend would have answered that "tonight is the thirteenth night," he would have inadvertently fulfilled the Mitzvah of counting the Omer, and would have been unable to recite the blessing on this special Mitzvah. He circumvented this problem by answering you in a backward way.

Straight: So this is common practice?

Rabbi Yossi Greisman: Yes. But only if the answerer has not yet counted the Omer. Once you count the Omer there is no reason why to answer in this fashion.

Straight: As usual, Askmoses has been very enlightening. Thanks and keep up the good work.

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.

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