‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord. Leviticus 23:15-17

On the same day, you are to call a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. Leviticus 23:21

The tradition of counting 50 days to the day after a Sabbath is divided into two different traditions. The mainline tradition today comes from the Pharisees who believe the counting should begin on the 16th of Nissan. They do this because they consider the day of Passover on the 15th is the Sabbath. The other tradition believes that the Sabbath in this instruction concerns to the weekly Sabbath. Beth Messiah uses this second tradition which puts us in a minority of those who bother to count as instructed. I want you to understand why we do it this way.

Very simply, if we always start counting on the 16th of Nissan, then Shavuot would always fall on the 6th of Sivan. All of the other appointed times have a specific date in the Bible. If God wanted it to fall on a specific date, why would we have to count 50 days? Tradition says we count because He told us to. However if you look at your calendar you will see that it falls on a Monday this year. I have a problem with that because the instruction clearly says: “Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath”. If we count from the weekly Sabbath, Shavuot would fall on the first day of the week, which is called Sunday. I believe that fits better in the instruction given to us. However, it does put us in a small minority. If any of you disagree with the tradition we hold, it does not offend me. Feel free to choose which tradition you want to follow. I do not believe we need to agree and do everything the same way. But I wanted to share why we do it as a Synagogue differently than most others in our Jewish Community. I hope this helps you out.