What Are the Basic Customary Restrictions During the Sefira Period?
For thirty-three days during the sefira period, it is customary not to get married, take haircuts, or shave. This is to commemorate the period during which the students of Rabbi Akiva died. In addition, it is also customary to minimize joyous activities, which include dancing and playing musical instruments or listening to music. However, if someone has reason to recite the bracha of shehechiyanu, it is permissible to do so during sefira. It is also permitted to get engaged and hold an engagement party during sefira (Mishna Berura 493:2-3).
There are different customs regarding how to count the thirty-three days. The most common customs are:
- From the first day of sefira until the morning of Lag B’Omer for Ashkenazim and until the morning of the 34th day of the Omer for Sefardim.
- From the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar until the three days before Shavuos (Shloshes Yemei Hagbala), with the exception of Lag B’Omer.
- From the 2nd day of Iyar until erev Shavuos, with the exception of Lag B’Omer.
The minhag of the Arizal, which is also followed by some, is not to shave or take a haircut throughout the entire sefira period, including Lag B’Omer, until erev Shavuos (Piskei Teshuvos 493:15) There is a debate among the poskim whether this minhag applies to getting married as well (ibid. 493:15 footnotes 100-101).
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