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Text replacement - "S"A" to "Shulchan Aruch"
There’s a prohibition to count Jewish people. For the background see [[#Background of the issue]] below.
==General==
# There’s a prohibition to count Jewish people. <Ref>The source in Torah for the prohibition is found in Shemot 30:12 which says that each person counted must give an atonement in order to prevent a plague. Gemara [[Brachot]] 62b relates that when David HaMelech made a mistake to count the Jews a plague actually did affect the people. Gemara Yoma 22b rules that it's forbidden to count Jews even for a mitzvah purpose based on Shmuel 1, 15:4 which says that Shaul counted the people by means of lambs, giving one to each person and then collecting them again. Most achronim (Magan Avraham 156:2, Pri Chadash 55:1, Kaf HaChaim 13:10, S"A Shulchan Aruch HaRav 156:15) hold that the prohibition still applies nowadays and are supported by the Rambam Temidin UMussafin 4:4. The Aynayim LeMishpat ([[Brachot]] 62b) says that there’s no prohibition nowadays based on Rabbenu Chananel in [[Brachot]]; however, the Sh”t Tzitz Eliezer 7:3 (Chapter 1 section 2) strongly disagrees with that explanation of the Gemara. All achronim agree that there’s still a prohibition in effect nowadays including the Magan Avraham 156:2, Gra (Aderet Eliyahu Parshat Ki Tisa). </ref> According to most authorities this prohibition is a biblical command. <Ref>Tzitz Eliezer 7:3(8:1) and Shevet HaLevi 1:34 write that there's a biblical prohibition to count Jews. However, Magen Giborim (Elef LeMagen 55:21) writes that there's no lo taaseh (biblical) but nonetheless it is forbidden. </ref>
# [[Counting Jewish people]] with Hebrew letters starting aleph, bet, gimmel and so on is forbidden. <ref> The Kaf HaChaim 55:11, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu in his comments to Kitzur S”A 15:3, and Yalkut Yosef 55:2 write clearly that counting aleph, bet, gimmel is forbidden. </ref>
==Permissible ways==
===For a mitzvah===
# The prohibition applies even when counting for a mitzvah. <ref>Gemara Yoma 22b, Rambam Pirush Mishnayot Yoma 22b, Magan Avraham 156:2, Tzitz Eliezer 7:3(8:2) </ref>
# The minhag is to allow counting for a mitzvah using the פסוק of Hoshiyah Et Amecha…הושיעה את עמך וברך את נחלתך ורעם ונשאם עד העולם in order to count for a [[minyan]]. However, some say that it's only permitted if one only counts in one's head.<Ref>Kitzur S"A Shulchan Aruch 15:3 writes that Minhag Yisrael to quote for a mitzvah purpose using the pasuk of Hoshiyah Et Amecha. Kesot HaShulchan 15:8 quotes the Kitzur S”A. Piskei Teshuvot 156:24 adds that it's also acceptable to use the pasuk VeAni BeRov Chasdecha quoting the Sefer HaOrah LeRashi vol 1 siman 56. Rav Modechai Eliyahu's comments on Kitzur S"A Shulchan Aruch 15:3 writes that even using this pasuk one shouldn't point but count in one's head. Yalkut Yosef ([[Pesukei DeZimrah]] 55:2) holds that it's permitted for a mitzvah if one either counts in one's head or if one counts using the pasuk of Hoshiya. Revivot Efraim 4:44(132) quotes an achron who has a safek about this issue. Minchat Asher Parshat Bamidbar ([[Siman 1]]:4) tries to explain the Kitzur S"A Shulchan Aruch saying that perhaps when using the pasuk it's not considered counting since one doesn't know which word in the pasuk corresponds to which number other than that the whole pasuk is 10 words. [He prefers this explanation over saying that there's some segulah unique to this pasuk that protects those counted thereby permitting it. Regarding whether this pasuk is unique, see Podeh Et Avraham (Mem #19) who writes that one may use pasuk of VeShinantem and Lekat Kemach HaChadash 55:8 who writes that counting with bracha of [[Hamotzei]] is incorrect.]Sh"t Divrei Zev 10:13 writes that it's permitted to count Jews for a [[minyan]]. However, Yalkut Yosef ([[Pesukei DeZimrah]], pg 351) argues based on the Sefer Itim (pg 352) who says it is a problem. See Yabia Omer YD 2:16(9). [See Orchot Rabbenu vol 3 pg 89, Or Torah 5766 [[Elul]] 136. Shelat Rav pg 167.]</ref>
===In thought===
# Many poskim permit counting in one’s thought (by looking and counting in one’s head without making any motions) for a mitzvah or any need. <Ref>Yalkut Yosef (Piskei DeZimrah 55 note 2, Sherit Yosef vol 2 pg 93) permits counting for a [[minyan]] in one’s mind. Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 7:3:(7:39), Minchat Asher (Bamidbar 1) in name of the Kaf HaChaim Sofer and Kaf HaChaim Palagi permit. However, Etz Yosef (Yoma 22b; quoted by Piskei Teshuvot 156:24) is strict. </ref>

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