Selichos-Part 1-When, Concentration, & Language


A. On which days is Selichos recited?[1]

Ashkenazim:[2] Selichos is recited for a minimum of four days prior to Rosh Hashanah.[3] Selichos is said starting from the Sunday [Motzei Shabbos, immediately after midnight[4]], of the week of, or the week prior to Rosh Hashanah. Being we need to say at least four days of Selichos before Rosh Hashanah, and we always start on Motzei Shabbos[5], therefore when Rosh Hashanah falls on Monday or Tuesday[6] we begin saying Selichos from the Motzei Shabbos of the previous week. However, when Rosh Hashanah falls between Thursday-Saturday we begin to say it from the Motzei Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah.[7]

Sephardim:[8] Sephardim begin saying Selichos from [the day after[9]] Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur.

Until when is Selichos said? Many have the custom to say Selichos daily until Yom Kippur.[10] However the Chabad custom is to only say Selichos before Rosh Hashanah, while during Aseres Yimei Teshuvah Selichos is not said. This is with exception to Tzom Gedalia in which the typical fast day Selichos is recited.[11]


Are even Torah scholars to diminish their learning in order to recite Selichos?[12]

Yes. Although in general it is better for Torah scholars to continue learning Torah than to increase in supplications[13], during these days it is better to increase in supplication. This was witnessed amongst great Rabbis who although spent their time in deep learning of Jewish law, when Elul arrived, they would diminish in their learning in order to increase in supplication and prayer.[14]


Does one say Selichos if there is a Chasan present by the Minyan?[15]

If there is a Chasan present by the Minyan, Selichos is recited[16] [without the confession prayer of Ashamnu[17] and] without Nefilas Apayim.[18] However some Poskim[19] rule that when Selichos is recited prior to Davening one is to recite the confession prayer within it even in the presence of a Chasan. [Practically the Chasan is to be asked to leave the Shul in order to allow Ashamnu to be recited, although he himself is to omit it.[20]]

Does the Chasan himself say Selichos? The Chasan himself is to recite Selichos without Tachanun.[21] However by a Taanis Tzibur the Chasan does not recite Selichos.[22]

Does one say Selichos if there is a Baal Bris [i.e. Mohel; Sandek; Father] present by the Minyan?[23]

Prior to Alos: If Selichos is being recited prior to Alos and a Baal Bris is present, then the Selichos is recited regularly, together with the confession prayers.[24]

After Alos: If Selichos is being recited after the time of Alos then it is disputed[25] as to whether Tachanun[26] is recited within the Selichos, although the remainder of the Selichos is recited according to all. This dispute applies also when Selichos is being recited past sunrise.[27]

Does the Baal Bris himself say Selichos? The Baal Bris himself is to recite Selichos without Tachanun.[28] However by a Taanis Tzibur the Baal Bris does not recite Selichos.[29]


Is Selichos recited in the house of an Avel?

See I!

 Sparks of Chassidus:

The meaning of Selichos:[30]

Every year Hashem grants one blessing in all matters of life as a loan. This loan is to be paid by the recipient throughout the year in the form of Torah and Mitzvos. One who has not paid this debt is given throughout Elul to do so. If one has still not done so by the time Selichos arrives, then Hashem willingly forgives the debt upon seeing the true desire of the person towards change.

Niggun Daled Bavos:[31]

The days of Selichos were one of the auspicious times that Chassidim would sing the Niggun of Daled Bavos.


B. At what hour of the day is Selichos to be recited?

The letter of the law:[32] Selichos is to be said by “Ashmuras Haboker” [which corresponds to the last three hours of nightfall[33]]. The reason for this is because the end of the night is a time when G-d discerns the matters of the world and thus this period of time is auspicious above.[34]

The custom:[35] Practically the custom today is to say Selichos before Shacharis, after Alos Hashachar.[36] [The custom of the Rebbe was to recite Selichos in the morning much time after Ashmuros Haboker and sunrise. This is unlike the recorded custom in Sefer Haminhagim to recite Selichos by Ashmuros Haboker.[37]]

The first night-Motzei Shabbos:[38] On the first night of Selichos which is Motzei Shabbos the custom is to begin Selichos immediately after midnight.

C. The morning blessings:[39]

One is to say the blessing of Birchas Hatorah prior to Selichos.[40] This applies whether one is saying Selichos at night prior to Alos, or during the day.[41] On those days that one awakens to say Selichos before Alos the other morning blessings may only be recited if one received their corresponding benefit.[42] Thus, if he did not hear the rooster crow, or did not change clothing or wear leather shoes or put on a belt or hat, then he may not say their corresponding blessing until Alos, even if he slept at night.[43] According to all, the blessings of Shelo Asani Goy/Aved/Isha may be said immediately upon awakening, prior to Alos.[44]



Does one wear Shabbos clothes for Selichos of Motzei Shabbos?[45]

On Motzei Shabbos, Selichos is said while still wearing one’s Shabbos clothing.

May one recite Selichos after midnight, before Ashmuros Haboker, on all the nights of Selichos?[46]

Yes. There are those which are accustomed to do so even initially.[47] Those which will be unable to recite Selichos by Ashmuros Haboker, it is proper to recite it after midnight rather than recite it in the morning.[48]


May Selichos be said at night prior to midnight?  

No. According to Kabala it is forbidden to recite Selichos at night [prior to midnight].[49] Some Poskim[50] however rule that Selichos may be recited starting from two hours prior to midnight. Practically one may be lenient to recite Selichos within these two hours in a scenario that otherwise the Selichos will not be able to be said together with a Minyan.[51] On Motzei Shabbos, if the Selichos is being recited prior to midnight, then one is to omit the confession prayer.[52]


Is one to do Nefilas Apayim when reciting Selichos at night prior to Alos?

One is not to perform Nefilas Apayim during the night, prior to Alos.[53] If however one reaches Nefilas Apayim near Alos then it is permitted to do Nefilas Apayim, although it is best to delay the Nefilas Apayim until after Alos.[54] However some Poskim[55] are lenient to perform Nefilas Apayim starting from after midnight. The Chabad custom is to never do Nefilas Apayim during Selichos, even when the Selichos is being said during the day.


If Selichos could not be said before Shacharis may it be said later on?[56]

If one could not say Selichos in the morning before Shacharis it may be said throughout the entire day, such as prior to Mincha.


May Selichos be recited on Erev Shabbos past midday?

Seemingly Selichos is to be recited without Tachanun.[57]


Shabbos Selichos:[58]

The Chassidus of this Shabbos was heard with completely different concentration. On Friday night of Shabbos Selichos, Chassidim would diminish their amount of sleep as they were unable to sleep. A person did not find his place. They would go to Mikveh prior to daytime. In the Mikveh they would meet many others hurrying on their way. It was recognizable that this Shabbos was different than every other Shabbos. In one’s mind passes the thought “To you Hashem is righteousness and to us is the face of shame”. One would immerse with a broken heart and question himself whether this is an immersion of true repentance or is he immersing with the rodent in his hand. When they would pass Binyamin’s Shtible they would hear the congregation saying Tehillim. The Tehillim of that Shabbos was also different then all the other Shabbasim.



It is customary to hold a Chassidic gathering on Motzei Shabbos in the hours prior to Selichos.


D. Concentration:

Selichos must be recited slowly and with concentration. It is better to recite a lesser amount of supplications, but with proper concentration, then a larger amount without concentration.[59] Those who are accustomed to hastily recite the conclusion of Selichos are to nullify their custom.[60]


May Selichos be recited in English or other language?[61]

When saying Selichos in private: One is to be particular to say Selichos in Lashon Hakodesh if he [is fluent in the language and] understands what he is saying.[62] If, however, he does not understand Lashon Hakodesh, he is to say Selichos in whatever language he understands.[63] [Furthermore, if he can express himself better in his native language than in Lashon Hakodesh he is to do so, as the main thing is that the prayer should come from the bottom of one’s heart.[64] Accordingly, many women were accustomed to recite Selichos in Yiddish.]

When saying Selichos with a Minyan:[65] Whenever one is saying Selichos with a Minyan he may say Selichos in whatever language he understands, even if he also understands Lashon Hakodesh.[66] [Nevertheless, it is best in all cases to say Selichos in Lashon Hakodesh even when one is with the congregation, if he is fluent in the language.[67]]


Is one who is accustomed to immersing in a Mikveh to do so before or after Selichos?[68]

One is to try to immerse in a Mikveh before Selichos. One who was unable to do so is [not to delay reciting Selichos with a Minyan and is rather] to immerse in a Mikveh after Selichos, before Davening.

E. The Thirteen attributes:

It is forbidden to recite the thirteen attributes without proper concentration.[69] [It is to be recited slowly and carefully.[70] It is to be recited aloud.[71] Some are accustomed to count the Middos with their fingers.[72] Some are accustomed to picture each letter of each word in their mind while reciting it.[73] One is to make a break between the words Vayikra Besheim and Hashem[74], and between the two names of Hashem Hashem.[75]]

Reciting with the Minyan: The 13 attributes may only be read together with the Minyan.[76] [Some write that this applies also for the entire paragraph of “Keil Melech Yosheiv”.] See D and Q&A!



Must one stand when reciting the 13 attributes?[77]

The custom is to stand while reciting it. One is not to lean while reciting it unless he is old or sick.

Bending down:[78] One is to recite the 13 attributes with his back slightly arched forward.


If one is behind the Minyan and the congregation has reached the 13 attributes of mercy what is he to do?[79]

The custom is to stop and read the 13 attributes together with the congregation, as is the law by Kaddish and Kedusha.[80] This applies for everyone in the Shul, even if one is not part of the Minyan for Selichos.[81] Nevertheless if one is in the midst of prayer, and is in an area that he cannot make an interval, then he is not to say it.[82]


If one is Davening with a Minyan and the congregation has already recited the 13 attributes of mercy may he recite it when he reaches that point?[83]

No. The 13 attributes of mercy may only be recited together with the actual Minyan.[84]


Must one read each word of the 13 attributes together with the congregation or can he read it on his own pace?[85]

If one begins reading the 13 attributes together with the congregation, and the congregation is saying the words quickly, it is permitted for him to recite the words at his own pace.[86]

 If the congregation is already in middle of reciting the 13 attributes may one begin to say it?

Some[87] write that as long as majority of the congregation has not yet completed the recitation, then he may recite it with them.


May one recite the 13 attributes of mercy to himself in the Torah reading tune?

If one is saying Selichos without a Minyan, he is to omit the 13 attributes of mercy.[88] It is permitted to recite the thirteen attributes in the Torah reading tune even if one is reciting it alone.[89] Nevertheless, many are accustomed to avoid doing so, and they thus completely omit it when a Minyan is not present.[90] Practically, the recorded Chabad custom is not to say it.[91]



[1] 581:1

Background of the custom’s origin: This custom to say Selichos before Rosh Hashanah seemingly began not before 800 years ago, as the Geonim, mentioned in the Tur, would only say Selichos during the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah, and not before Rosh Hashanah. [See Tur 582] So rules also Rambam. Nevertheless, the custom became to begin saying Selichos before Rosh Hashanah as we are now on a lower level of spirituality and require the cleansing of Selichos prior to Rosh Hashanah. [Shaar Hamoadim Elul 75]

[2] Rama ibid

[3] Taz 581:2; M”A 581:3; Levush 581

The reason: The reason that we require that there be at least four days of Selichos:

  1. There is a custom to fast for the ten days of repentance. Since however four out of those ten days are forbidden in fasting [Two days of Rosh Hashanah; Shabbos Teshuvah; Erev Yom Kippur], therefore we make it up four days before Rosh Hashanah in which they would fast [and say Selichos. [Levush brought in Taz 581:2; M”A 581:3]
  2. A Karban must be separated four days prior to its slaughtering in order to verify that it is free from blemish. Similarly, we must free ourselves from blemish four days prior to Rosh Hashanah as on Rosh Hashanah it is considered that we are the sacrifice as opposed to other holidays where the animal is the sacrifice. [Elya Raba 581:8; Ateres Zekeinim 581 based on Yerushalmi Rosh Hashanah 4:8 in expounding why by the sacrifices of Rosh Hashanah the verse states “Veasisem” as opposed to “Vehikravtem”.] For this reason, it is proper for every person to increase in Teshuvah within the four days prior to Rosh Hashanah. [Kaf Hachaim 581:29]

[4] The Rama ibid writes that it begins on Sunday by Ashmuros. No mention is made of midnight. So writes also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:5. For the sources which mention midnight after Motzei Shabbos, see B.

[5] Meaning we do not establish Selichos to begin exactly 4 days before Rosh Hashanah. As for why the date was always set for Sunday, this is because the Sages desired that it have a set day, no matter when on the calendar Rosh Hashanah begins. [Levush brought in Taz 581:2; M”A 581:3]

[6] Rosh Hashanah however will never fall on Sunday or Wednesday, hence the above example is only relevant for Rosh Hashanah which falls on Mon-Tue. [Rama ibid]

[7] Fasting on first day of Selichos: Many have the custom to fast on the first day of Selichos. [Tur; M”A 581:8; M”E 591:36; M”B 581:15] However it is better to increase in Mitzvos and Teshuvah than to increase in fast days. [Birkeiy Yosef 581:8; Kaf Hachaim 581:9; See also 581:58] The Rebbe Rayatz instituted for the Temimim that that one who is healthy is to fast on the first day of Selichos and one who is weak is to fast until Mincha. [Hakeria Vehakedosha 1941; Otzer Minhagei Chabad 75]

Tehillim: The Rebbe Rayatz instituted for the Temimim that starting from the first day of Selichos one who is to recite the entire Tehillim every morning prior to daybreak. [Hakeria Vehakedosha 1941; Otzer Minhagei Chabad 75]

[8] Michaber 581:1; Kaf Hachaim 581:15 brings that practically this is the custom of the Sefaradim. This was the custom of the Arizal. The Arizal would recite word by word together with the congregation. [Shaar Hakavanos; Kaf Hachaim 581:16] This custom is mentioned in Likkutei Torah Parshas Eikev p. 14, as it follows the custom mentioned in Kisvei Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos. Nevertheless, it is not the Chabad custom to recite Selichos throughout Elul, and rather we follow the custom of the Ashkenazim. [Likkutei Sichos 9 p. 458]

The reason for saying Selichos the entire month of Elul: Admur there explains that the reason we begin saying Selichos in the beginning of Elul is because Elul is an auspicious time to reveal the 13 attributes of mercy and arouse mercy for the spark of one’s soul. Other reasons mentioned are: 1. The forty days before Yom Kippur are auspicious for forgiveness and repentance as Moshe went to bring the second Luchos and received forgiveness for Klal Yisrael. 2. It corresponds to the forty days of the journey of the Miraglim. The saying of Selichos in these forty days rectifies that sin. 3. It corresponds to the 40 days of conception. 4. It corresponds to the four Yuds of Sheim A”b. 5. It corresponds to the four worlds of Abiy”a which each incorporate ten Sefiros. [Kaf Hachaim 581:14]

[9] Selichos is not said on Rosh Chodesh Elul [Magen Avraham 581:2; Rameh 79; Elya Raba 581:6; Mateh Efraim 581:11; Kaf Hachaim 581:15] This applies even according to those which follow the custom to say Selichos throughout the month. [P”M A”A 581:2]

[10] As was the original custom mentioned in the Tur in name of the Geonim. [See Background ibid]; These Selichos are also mentioned in Rama 602:1; Admur 602:3 [regarding the three confession prayers recited in Selichos and Admur]; Admur 604:4 regarding Erev Yom Kippur “We are not accustomed to say such lengthy Selichos in contrast to the other days”; See also Siddur Admur regarding Kaparos of Erev Yom Kippur “by Ashmuros Haboker after Selichos”; See Rebbe in Shaar Hamoadim Elul 75

[11] Sefer Haminhagim p. 122 [English]; Igros Kodesh 2:252; Shulchan Menachem 3:113; See Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 161 that the Rebbetzins did say Selichos during these ten days, and that in Lubavitch there were Chassidim that recited Selichos although majority did not. Likewise, the Rabbeim, starting at least from the Tzemach Tzedek, did not recite Selichos.

The reason: The reason behind this custom is because Aseres Yimei Teshuvah is a time for doing the action of Teshuvah, while the speech of Teshuvah pertained only up until Rosh Hashanah. [Rebbe Rayatz in the name of the Tzemach Tzedek Sichos 1948; brought by Rebbe in Sefer Hasichos 5750 vol. 1 p. 357 footnote 132]

[12] Birkeiy Yosef 581:6; Shaareiy Teshuvah 581:1; Kaf Hachaim 581:7

[13] Admur Kama 1:9

[14] This negates those that are accustomed to only recite Selichos on the first day and on Erev Rosh Hashanah. [Alef Hamagen 581:24]

[15] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:4

[16] Michaber 131:5 regarding Mila; Elya Raba 133:13; M”B 133:27 in name of Elya Raba and Magen Giborim “The same applies for a Chasan”; Ketzos Hashulchan 24:7

[17] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid


Regarding the Selichos of a fast day the Michaber ibid rules that Viduiy is recited within Selichos and so rules Piskeiy Teshuvos 131 footnote 151. However the Ketzos Hashulchan ibid writes that one skips all Tachanun and Nefilas Apayim. The Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:4 writes that one omits also Viduiy and so is the Chabad custom. [see Shulchan Menachem 3:83]

[18] Pnei Meivin Yoreh Deah 319; Ketzei Hamateh 602:22; Rav Leibal Groner in name of Rebbe brought in Shulchan Menachem 3:83

The reason: As Tachanun is never recited when a Chasan is present and why would this Tachanun be any different than any other Tachanun which is omitted when a Chasan is present. [ibid]

[19] Sheivet Halevi 4:54; Levushei Mordechai 226

The reason: As one only omits the confession within the regular set prayer of Shacharis or Mincha and not by the extra prayer of Selichos. [ibid]

[20] Directive of Rebbe to Rabbi Leibel Groner when he was a Chasan during Selichos, and so is the custom in 770. [Shulchan Menachem 3:83]

[21] Nitei Gavriel 16:8; Directive of Rebbe to Rabbi Leibel Groner when he was a Chasan during Selichos. [Shulchan Menachem 3:83]

Ruling by a Taanis Tzibur: P”M 131 M”Z 12; Ketzos Hashulchan ibid footnote 28 in name of Divrei Nechemia

[22] Shaareiy Teshuvah 131:6; P”M 131 M”Z 12; Ketzos Hashulchan ibid footnote 28 in name of Divrei Nechemia; See Nitei Gavriel ibid that the difference is that by a Taanis Tzibur the Selichos are said due to mourning, which is not befitting for a Chasan to recite, as opposed to the Selichos of Elul which are recited for Teshuvah.

[23] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:4

[24] Pischeiy Teshuvah 581; Pnei Meivin 319; Alef Hamagen 581:38 in glosses

The reason: As the Mitzvah of Mila can only be performed during the day, and hence prior to Alos the Mitzvah has not yet arrived and he is not yet considered a Baal Bris. [ibid]

[25] Some Poskim rule that Nefilas Apayim is also to be recited within Selichos. [Pnei Meivin ibid; Glosses of Shoel Umeishiv on 602; Alef Hamagen 581:38 in gloss; Sheivet Halevi 4:54; Levushei Mordechai 226] This applies even for the Baal Bris himself. [Alef Hamagen ibid] Others rule that Nefilas Apayim is to be omitted from Selichos as the time of the Bris has already arrived. [Mechzeh Avraham 154; Betzeil Hachochma 4:146] Others leave this matter in question. [Pischeiy Teshuvah 581]

[26] Tzaruch Iyun if this refers to only Nefials Apayim or also the confession prayer of Ashamnu. See Michaber 133:5 that differentiates between the two and states that Viduiy is recited by a Baal Bris and only Nefilas Apayim is omitted from the Selichos. Practically, however, the Chabad custom is to also omit Ashamnu when a Chasan is present. [see Shulchan Menachem 3:83]

[27] The Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:4 rules that according to many of the above Poskim they only apply their ruling if Selichos is being said prior to sunrise. However past sunrise they too would agree that the confession prayer is to be omitted. However, this is not readily apparent from the above Poskim, and on the contrary from their reasoning it implies that there is no differentiation, and so rules that it applies even after sunrise the Sheivet Halevi ibid and Levushei Mordechai ibid and so understood the Betziel Hachochmah ibid to be the opinion of the other Poskim as well.

[28] Nitei Gavriel 16:8 regarding Chasan; Directive of Rebbe to Rabbi Leibel Groner when he was a Chasan during Selichos. [Shulchan Menachem 3:83]

Ruling by a Taanis Tzibur: P”M 131 M”Z 12; Ketzos Hashulchan ibid footnote 28 in name of Divrei Nechemia

[29] Shaareiy Teshuvah 131:6; P”M 131 M”Z 12; Ketzos Hashulchan ibid footnote 28 in name of Divrei Nechemia; See Nitei Gavriel ibid that the difference is that by a Taanis Tzibur the Selichos are said due to mourning, which is not befitting for a Chasan to recite, as opposed to the Selichos of Elul which are recited for Teshuvah.

[30] Shaar Hamoadim Elul 75

[31] Sefer Hasichos 1941 p. 85-86; Otzer Minhagei Chabad 74; Sefer Haniggunim 1:1

[32] Michaber and Rama 581:1; Sefer Haminhagim p. 114 [English Edition; There they mistakenly translated Ashmuros Haboker as dawn, in truth Ashmuros Haboker is before dawn].

[33] Bach 581; Perisha 581; M”B Hakdama 581; Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:2. Vetzaruch Iyun as from the M”B ibid it implies that it refers to the end of the last Ashmurah, and so is also implied from Admur Kama 1:8 that it is best to say Tikkun Chatzos by the end of any of the three Ashmuros as that time is auspicious above. [See Admur Kama 1:8 that there are 3 Ashmuros at night] Furthermore there is room to suggest that based on the ruling of Admur in the Mahadurah Basra regarding the auspiciousness of midnight over the time of Ashmuros, [this is the Kabalistic perspective which was not yet known in the times of the Shulchan Aruch] perhaps ideally Selichos is to be said every night by midnight and not by the last Ashmuros. Certainly, one is allowed to say Selichos after midnight, before the last Ashmuros, if one is unable to say it by the last Ashmuros. [See Igros Moshe 2:105; Mishmeres Shalom 41:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:2]

[34] G-d travels throughout 18000 worlds at night, and reaches this world by the [last] Ashmuros. [M”A 581:1 in name of Hagahos Maimanis brought in M”B in introduction to this chapter]

[35] Mateh Efraim 581:11; See Divrei Torah of Munkatch 1:76; Alef Hamagen 581:24

[36] Although by doing so one loses the auspicious time of Ashmuros Haboker, nevertheless since the entire period of Elul is auspicious there is a great advantage in saying Selichos even after Alos. This negates those that do not participate in Selichos under the claim that it is not taking place before Alos. [Alef Hamagen 581:24]

[37] This was the custom of the Rebbe Rayatz. See Otzer Minhagei Chabad Elul 55

[38] Sefer Haminhagim p. 114; This is the custom of majority of Ashkenazi Jewry [Piskeiy Teshuvos 581 footnote 15] This is a very old custom from earlier generations. [Igros Moshe 2:105] So was practiced by various Tzaddikim based on the Zohar. [Divrei Torah Munkatch 1:76]

The reason: It is our custom [Chabad] to say the Selichos immediately after midnight in living with the verse said in Selichos “Bemoitzaei Menucha”. [Sefer Haminhagim p. 114] This is done in order so one is able to say the Selichos with the happy mood that is still left over from Shabbos. [Leket Hayosher of student of Terumas Hadeshen brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 581 footnote 15] The Rebbe explains the reason for this is because in truth the purpose of the Selichos is not merely to be forgiven for sin but that the sins turn to merits, which is a joyous occasion. This is hinted to in the Gematria of the word “Selach” which is 98, corresponding to the 98 curses brought in Ki Savo which are in truth disguised blessings that can be turned over to revealed blessing. [Shaar Hamoadim Elul 73]

The auspiciousness of midnight: The auspiciousness of this time is elaborated in the Zohar. As well the Talmud says that this is a time of appeasement above and that anyone who learns Torah at night the Shechina resides opposite him, and a “string of kindness” is drawn upon him for that day. One who does so is also called a servant of G-d. [Basra 1:3] The auspiciousness of the time of midnight is applicable at all times and in all places. [Basra 1:8] In the Mahadurah Kama [1:8], regarding Tikkun Chatzos, the time of “midnight” is not mentioned, [1:8] At the times of the Shulchan Aruch they still did not know of the greatness and auspiciousness of the time of midnight which is based on mainly Kabalistic sources, and thus in the first edition of the Shulchan Aruch of Admur he does not make mention of midnight. However, in the second edition which follows more the Kabalistic rulings it is mentioned that midnight is the proper time of awakening. [See Machatzis Hashekel 1:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:2].

Other Customs: There are communities which are accustomed to say Selichos on Motzei Shabbos by Ashmuras Haboker and not immediately after midnight. Nevertheless, even they are accustomed to say it at night, as opposed to the other days when it is said by Alos. [Mateh Efraim 581:11] This is because in the first Selichos there is a stanza that discusses the night prayer. [Alef Lamateh ibid; See Aruch Hashulchan 581:4]

[39] See our Sefer “Awaking like a Jew” Chapter 8 Halacha 8 and chapter 9 Halacha 11 for a thorough treatise on this subject!

[40] 46:8

[41] 47:7; 47:8; Siddur; When however, saying Selichos before Alos one is only to recite Birchas Hatorah if he slept a standard sleep that night. [ibid; See “Awaking like a Jew” ibid]

[42] Siddur; Ketzos Hashulchan 5:6; Sefer Haminhagim p. 5 [English]; Luach Kolel Chabad; Shevach Hamoadim 2:2; See our Sefer “Awaking like a Jew” Chapter 8 Halacha 8

[43] Ketzos Hashulchan 5:6 based on the simple understanding of Admur in the Siddur and based on the ruling of Admur regarding the blessing of Hanosein Lasechvi Bina. This is unlike the ruling of Admur in the Shulchan Aruch 47:9 which does not require one to receive all the corresponding pleasures of the morning blessings, with exception to the rooster’s crow.

Other opinions: There are opinions that say one may recite all the morning blessings prior to Alos even if he did not receive their corresponding benefit. [See Kovetz Oholei Torah 777-780 for a discussion on this matter. Harav Asher Lemel Hakohen, Chabad Rav of Beitar, agrees to his opinion. Harav Yosef Simcha Ginzberg [through a personal correspondence] defended the opinion of the Ketzos Hashulchan in Admur, stating that there is no other way to interpret it.]

[44] Ketzos Hashulchan 5 footnote 15

[45] Otzer Minhagei Chabad Elul 54 as the custom of the Rebbe. The Rebbe Rashab however would switch his Shabbos clothes immediately after Shabbos as stated there.

[46] See Igros Moshe 2:105; Mishmeres Shalom 41:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:2

[47] As the time midnight is equivalent in its auspiciousness to the time of Ashmuros Haboker. [Igros Moshe 2:105] See previous footnotes.

[48] Mishmeres Shalom 41:4

[49] M”A 565:5; Ramaz 30; Birkeiy Yosef 581:1; Kesher Gudal 11; Chesed Lealafim 581:9; Shaareiy Teshuvah 581:1; Kaf Hachaim [Falagi 16:13; Kaf Hachaim 131:26; 581:2; M”B 565:12; M”E 581:20

The reason: The 13 attributes of mercy may only be said at an auspicious hour. One who says it at night causes an opposite effect and diminishes in the G-dly vitality [Kitzutz Benitios] [Birkeiy Yosef ibid] The only time we are lenient in this matter is on the night of Yom Kippur.

[50] Mishmeres Shalom 41:4 writes it may be said starting two hours before midnight, which is the beginning of the middle Ashmura, and so was done by certain Tzaddikim and Gedolim. This is the custom of Karlin and Gur, and was the custom of Rav Yisrael Meruzin

[51] Igros Moshe 2:105; Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:2 writes that the Igros Moshe only allowed it as a “Horaas Shaah” and not as a permanent ruling.

[52] Ramaz 30; Birkeiy Yosef 581:1; Shaareiy Teshuvah 581:1; Kaf Hachaim 131:26; M”E 581:20

[53] Michaber 131:3; Admur 131:4

[54] M”E 581:19

[55] Elya Raba brought in M”B 581:18

[56] Yechaveh Daas 1:46; Piskeiy Teshuvos 581:2; See Mateh Efrayim 581:11

[57] As it is similar to saying Selichos on Erev Rosh Hashanah past Alos, in which time Tachanun is not recited and nevertheless Selichos is recited. Likewise, it is similar to saying Selichos by a Chasan in which only Tachanun is omitted. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[58] Likkutei Deburim Vol 1 page 151-158

[59] Admur Kama 1:9

[60] Birkeiy Yosef 581:5; Kaf Hachaim 581:6

[61] Admur 101:5

[62] 1st opinion in Admur 101:5 and Michaber 101:4 that one is to be particular to Daven in Lashon Hakodesh; Rif Brachos 2:7; Rabbanei Tzarfat; Yearos Devash Derush 1; Chayeh Adam 24:19; M”B 122:8; Shulchan Hatahor 118 footnote 5 all conclude like this opinions

The reason: One is to always say Daven in Lashon Hakodesh as the angels [Malachei Hashareis] don’t understand other languages, [1st explanation in Admur ibid; Taz 101:4 and M”A 101:6] and a prayer needs the angels to elevate and vouch for his prayer’s acceptance. [Admur ibid; Rif Brachos 2:7]

Other opinions in Admur: Some Poskim rule that the angels understand all languages, even thoughts, other than Aramaic, and therefore one may Daven in any language he desires except for Aramaic. [2nd explanation in Admur ibid; 2nd opinion in Michaber 101:4 as explained in Taz 101:5 and M”A 101:7; Rosh Brachos 2:2; Tosafus Shabbos 12b, brought in Taz ibid]

[63] Admur ibid; M”A 101:5 in name of Asara Mamaros Mamar Eim Kol Chaiy 1:31 and Sefer Chassidim 588 and 788; Chayeh Adama and M”B ibid

The reason: As a prayer without intent is worthless. [Admur ibid]

[64] See Chayeh Adam and M”B ibid; Beis Baruch 22:6; Piskeiy Teshuvos 101:7; This follows the second opinion mentioned in

[65] Admur ibid; Michaber 101:4; Mishneh Sotah 32a

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one may only Daven in another language if there are 10 people Davening in that language. If however the Minyan is Davening in Lashon Hakodesh then an individual may not Daven in another language. [Yifei Laleiv 101:10; Kaf Hachaim 101:18] It is clear from the wording of Admur and Poskim ibid unlike this approach, and so writes Piskeiy Teshuvos 101 footnote 41, and so rules Chasam Sofer O.C. 84 and on Shabbos 12b and Makor Chaim 101:4

[66] The reason: As when Davening together with the congregation one does not need angels to elevate and vouch for one’s prayers as the verse states “Hein Kel Kabir Lo Yimas.” [Admur ibid; Taz 101:4] Meaning, that Hashem Himself accepts their prayer, without the medium of an angel. [M”A 101:6]

[67] Yearos Devash Derush 1; See Chayeh Adam 24:19; M”B 122:8; M”B 101:13; Biur Halacha ibid “Yachol Lihispalel”; Piskeiy Teshuvos 101 footnote 57

The reason: As Lashon Hakodesh has many Segulos, and with it the world was created. The words themselves help effect the blessing. [Biur Halacha ibid; See Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rashab 2:459]

[68] Reshimos Dvarim 1:326; Otzer Minhagei Chabad 4 [p.36]

[69] Birkeiy Yosef 581:4; Shaareiy Teshuvah 581:1; Kaf Hachaim 131:21 and 581:5; Zechor Leavraham 131:6; Beis Oved 131:2; Chesed Lealafim 131:9

[70] Ben Ish Chaiy Ki Sisa 4

[71] Pirkei Direbbe Eliezer 46; Piskeiy Teshuvos 131:9

[72] Ben Ish Chaiy ibid [doing so helps for concentration]

[73] Ben Ish Chaiy ibid

[74] M”A 565:5 in name of Darkei Moshe and Abudarham; Kaf Hachaim 131:20

[75] Kaf Hachaim 131:20; Shalmei Tzibur p. 149; Kaf Hachaim [Falagi] 131:13

[76] Michaber 565:5; Mateh Efraim 581:21; Kaf Hachaim 565:26 [this applies even during the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah].

[77] Birkeiy Yosef 131:7-8; Kitzur Shlah Miseches R”H “It is proper to stand while saying Selichos, and one who is unable to stand is at the very least to stand while reciting Keil Melech Rachamim and Vayavor and the 13 Middos”; Piskeiy Teshuvos 131:9

[78] Birkeiy Yosef in Shiyurei Bracha 131:19; Shalmei Tzibur p. 149; Beis Oved 131:3; Kaf Hachaim [Falagi] 131:13; Kaf Hachaim 131:19

[79] Sheivet Halevi 7:12; Igros Moshe 3:89; Yabia Omer 4:8; Piskeiy Teshuvos 131:9; See Sheivet Halevy 9:1; Kinyan Torah 4:9

[80] This matter is disputed in Poskim regarding whether the 13 Middos have the same status as any Davar Bekedusha or not. See Halef Lecha Shlomo 44; Tehila Ledavid 66:7; Igros Moshe ibid; Yabia Omer ibid. Practically the age-old custom is to treat it as a Davar Shebekidusha.

[81] Poskim ibid

[82] Sheivet Halevy 9:1; Kinyan Torah 4:9

[83] Sheivet Halevi 7:12; 9:24; Piskeiy Teshuvos 131:9; 581 footnote 78; However, see Torah Leshma 96 that he writes if the Yachid began viduiy together with the congregation then he may continue and start the 13 attributes even after they finish.

[84] As it is considered a Davar Shebekedusha and is similar to Kaddish and Kedusha which may only be recited with ten people at the same time. [See M”B 565:11]

[85] Ben Ish Chaiy Ki Sisa 4 as explained in his Sefer Mikavtzel; Torah Leshma 96; Kaf Hachaim 131:24

[86] As since one began saying the words with a Minyan, he may finish it off. [ibid]

[87] Piskeiy Teshuvos 131:9 [however the sources he provide are inaccurate] The Ben Ish Chaiy ibid only relates to a case that one began with the congregation. However, in Torah Leshma 96 he writes that if the Yachid began viduiy together with the congregation then he may continue and start the 13 attributes even after they finish.

[88] Michaber 565:5; Mateh Efraim 581:21; Kaf Hachaim 565:26 [this applies even during the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah].

[89] Michaber 565:5; Tur 565; M”A 565:5; Rashba in Teshuvah; Terumas Hadeshen 8; Seder Hayom [must finish the entire verse]; Machazik Bracha 131:6; Kesher Gudal 19:9; Ruach Chaim 131:1; Mateh Efraim 581:21 [however states that in such a case must omit the words Zechor Lanu Hayom Bris Shlosh Esrei]; Hisorerus Teshuvah 2:140; Minchas Elazar 4:22 [defends ruling of Mateh Efraim however in Darkei Chaim Veshalom 190 says not to say at all even in a way of Niggun. Vetzaruch Iyun.]; Grach Naah in Yagdil Torah Jerusalem 17 p. 26 [states that technically one is not even required to recite it with the tune]; Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 3:10; Kaf Hachaim 131:23 brings the dispute on this matter and rules it is only to be said with the Niggun by Tachanun and not by Selichos.

The reason: As there is no prohibition in reading it as a verse in scripture. The prohibition is only when reading it without a Minyan as a prayer and supplication

The tune: Rav Avraham Chaim Naah in Yagdil Torah ibid states that technically one is not even required to recite it with the tune, and it is only done to show that one does not mean to say it as a prayer. The Igros Moshe ibid similarly states that one may read the words in the usual tune he uses for reading words of Torah, even if it is not the actual Torah reading tunes [Taamim], so long as it does not sound like a supplication.

Finishing the verse: The Seder Hayom writes that one must finish the entire verse [until Vieal Riveim] and may not stop by the words Venakeh, as it is forbidden to end a verse in an area that Moshe did not end. [see Admur 494:11] However, some Poskim state it is not necessary to finish the verse. [Ben Ish Chaiy in Rav Poalim 1:11; Yechaveh Daas 1:47 based on Pesach Dvir 51] Practically, the Kaf Hachaim ibid negates the opinion of the Seder Hayom, and so rules Rav Avraham Chaim Naah in Yagdil Torah ibid; Igros Moshe ibid; Hisorerus Teshuvah 2:140; Piskeiy Teshuvos 565:5]

Reading in a Siddur: Some write that one must read the verse within a Sefer rather than from memory. [Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid in name of Peri Hasada 4:49]

[90] Beis Yosef 565; Taz 565:5; Birkeiy Yosef 488:5 in name of Maharam Zakusa in name of Arizal; Shalmei Tzibur p. 148; Zechor Leavraham 131:7; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 190 [However see Minchas Elazar 4:22 who defends ruling of Mateh Efraim ibid that it may be said so long as one skips the parts that mention the 13 Middos before and after reading it. Vetzaruch Iyun.]; Kaf Hachaim 131:23 rules that by Selichos one may not say it.

The reason: The reason is because since he is mentioning it at this time, seemingly his intent is as a request and not to read a verse in the Torah. [Taz ibid]

[91] Otzer Minhagei Chabad Elul 63; Hiskashrus 423 p. 18 footnote 17; Glosses of Rav Raskin on Siddur footnote 337; Heichal Menachem 3:265


Otzer Minhagei Chabad ibid records that an individual does not recite the 13 attributes even with the Torah reading tune. This is based on an answer of the Rebbe to this exact question of which the Rebbe answered that he has not heard of such a practice of reading it with the tune. In the first printings of the Siddur Tehillas Hashem it stated by Mincha that a Yachid does not recite the 13 attributes. It did not mention this by Shacharis or Selichos. The Rebbe was hence asked if there is a difference, to which the Rebbe replied in Igros Kodesh 3:138 that he never heard of such a differentiation as the ruling is clearly given in 565:5 without any difference regarding the type of prayer.

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