Weekly Letter: Cardinal vs. Ordinal Numbers in Omer

In this weeks letter, The Rebbe responds to a letter questioning the manner in which we count Sefiras HaOmer, and explains why we cardinal and not ordinal numbers. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel.

By the Grace of G-d

28th of Nissan, 5733

Brooklyn, N.Y.


Jhb., South Africa

Greeting and Blessing;

As we are about to conclude the month of Nissan, called the month of Ge’ula, which includes also liberation from all problems and distractions, I take this opportunity to express my hope that after your return home from your brief visit here, there is a substantial improvement in your affairs. And in accordance with our conversation, that you are going form strength to strength not only materially, but also spiritually, in matters of Yiddishkeit. may G-d grant that you should continue to advance with inspiration and also peace of mind and in good health.

The present days of Sefirah also have a bearing on the above. For, as you know, we count the Omer using not ordinal numbers but cardinal numbers. In other words, the text of the counting is … “Today is one day, or two days, etc., not – the first day or the second day, etc. Thus, we would say, for example, “today is 13 days, which are one week and six days in the Omer.” The difference is, of course, that the ordinal number stands by itself and does not include the previous numbers, whereas the cardinal number includes all previous numbers. The lesson is that each day should see achievements on top of and in addition to achievements of the previous day and all the forgoing days. If this is true even before Mattan Torah (for our ancestors began to count the days immediately upon leaving Egypt, in anticipation of receiving the Torah at Sinai), how much more so after Mattan Torah, when the inspiration of last year’s festival of Mattan Torah still lingers on. By the same token, the inspiration of this year’s Mattan Torah should be on  a higher level  than last year’s and so every year, because a person must continually grow spiritually, as he grows also physically and it is in steady growth that one sees the sign of life. Moreover, every Jew has the benefit of hereditary capacities going back to our patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Especially when one has one’s own Zechus Ovos, as in your case.

May G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all above, including also good news about your daughter, about whom you said she needed an improvement in health.

With prayerful wishes for hatzlocho in your business affairs as well as in your advancement in Yiddishkeit from strength to strength.


The above letter is from The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP).

These letters were written originally in English and were prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, whose responsibility it was the Rebbe’s correspondence in English and several other languages.

We thank Rabbi Shalom Ber Schapiro, who was entrusted by his father-in-law Rabbi Mindel with his archives and who is Director of the Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP), for making the Rebbe’s letters available to the wider public. May the merit of the many stand him in good stead.

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