Friday, April 5, 2013

Cars and Sefira by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

5 Towns Jewish Times    New car sales, according to estimates, are going to be up this year.  Industry professionals are predicting that some 15 million new cars will be sold this year.  But many of the new car models are being packaged a little bit differently.  Both the AAA and Consumer Reports are warning consumers that many of the 2014 models have an air compressor and tire sealant instead of the standard spare tire.

All this new car chatter, however, brings up the question as to whether one may plan to purchase a new car during the first 33 days of the Counting of the Omer.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 493:1) tells us that during this period it is our custom not to conduct weddings.  The Mishna Brurah explains that one should not partake in matters of great joy.  “Nonetheless,” he writes, “if it happens that one has the occasion to recite a Shehecheyanu, then he may do so.”

This sentence written by the Chofetz Chaim in the early twentieth century has developed a surprising amount of halachic literature over the years.  What exactly did he mean by the term “if it happens?”  Rav Nissin Karelitz in his Chut HaShani halachic work explains that the Chofetz Chaim means that one should not plan one’s happy purchases to occur during this time.  In applying his reasoning to our case, one should not a the outset plan to purchase a car during the Sefirah period.  If, however, one’s previous car has developed problems and a new car purchase is necessary, then, of course, one may make the purchase. [...]


  1. Rav Shimon Eider, z"l, in his Halachos of Pesach book has a section on the Sefirah restrictions and notes that it is a far more lenient time for saying "shechechiyanu" than Bein HaMetzarim.
    And every good Jew knows "if it happens" means a good sale!

  2. It is the same halacha as Yud Beis Chodesh after Aviv or Imo. Yes, people will simply and ought simply not go out to buy a new car, but if it happens that one needs it, you do it. What if your car is written off? Can't be used? Do the laws of Aveylus state that you must assume YISSURIM. The answer is no. If you want to get around the issue of making a Bracha, choose a new fruit and make a shehecheyanu on it, and have in mind the car. End of Story, no?


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