Wednesday, September 21, 2005

When is the proper time to say selichos?

The shulchan aruch in siman 581 states that the minhag is to get up early in the morning before alos hashachar and say selichos. The acharonim quote another minhag of saying selichos right after Chatzos.

It is clear from the Shulchan Aruch and the acharonim that the above 2 options are the proper times to say selichos. What about other times?

The Mateh Efraim discusses saying selichos after Alos and says that b'dieved this is fine and that it is better to say selichos after Alos then not say them at all.

The Acahronim discuss one other time, the first half of the night. Most Acharonim are very much against this as the first half of the night is a time of din and in fact, R' Ovadya Yosef states that it is better not to say selcihos at all then say them in the first half of the night.

R' Willig told us that based on this, that instead of saying selichos at 10:00PM, amuch better choice is to daven mincha a little early and say them between mincha and maariv at the end of the day before sunset.

To sum up there are 4 possible times to say selichos
1. Early morning before Alos - best time to say selichos
2. Right after Chatzos - also l'chatchela
3. During the day - anytime after Alos until sunset, not l'chatchela but better to say selichos at this time then not say them
4. First half of the night - according to some Acharonim it is better not to say selichos at this time, according to others this is really b'dieved (if you absolutely have no other choice).

The above is only a general guideline, as always, ask your local Rav any specific questions.


Here are some specific references about the issue

Mishnah Berurah 565:12, selichos should not be recited before midnight.

Sha'arei Teshuvah 581:1 quoting Birkei Yosef, one who finds himself in a shul where selichos are being recited before midnight, should not recite the Thirteen Attributes along with the congregation.

Igros Moshe O.C. 2:105, R' Moshe is very against the practice of saying selichos before midnight.

Yechave Da'as 1:46, prohibits saying selichos before midnight, instead he advises reciting selichos before Minchah.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I can not fathom why selichos should not be said if they won't be said in their proper time. Whether or not Anyone is listening, or if it really is a "shas din", selichos are m'orer the sayer to do t'shuva. How can that be a bad thing? Do these achronim really think that it's going to be held against that person? This isn't something that's "mazkirin avonos shel adam", this is prayer!

It's just as ridiculous as saying one shouldn't pray at all if he's not wearing a hat and jacket. How in the world can that be held against him? It's nothing short of absurd.

bluke said...


Judaism is a rule based religion. The halacha states what and when you can do things. The time before midnight is simply not the proper time to say the 13 middos.

Anonymous said...


My question was based entirely on the idea that the recitation of selichos can act as a catalyst to do t'shuva. As such, it should never be prohibited, even if God isn't listening. The selichos are for us, not God. (I might add that I am not referring to the 13 middos- merely the selichos).

I'm not saying to shake a lulav on Yom Kippur. I'm saying, what's the worst that can happen?
1) As I mentioned above, this is not something that recalls a man's sins before God.
2) There is no rule that says it's forbidden to say selichos before chatzos-like it's forbidden to ask for things on Shabbos.
3) There is no problem of baal tosef here.


Why forbid- or even discourage- it? My point is, this is a made-up rule. So, yes, Judaism is a rule-based religion, but why make up absurd rules?

Anonymous said...


I thought you were going to discuss the inyan of when you begin saying selichos in terms of days (i.e. of RH is on a Wednesday this year you begin saying on the motzei shabbos before etc), and saying during aseres yomei teshuva etc (chabad doesn't for example). That could be an interesting follow up...

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Bluke: Are there *any* poskim that permit it BiDi'avad?

Read about the Shomronim here: (self serving link)

bluke said...

Not that I know of. R' Moshe is matir if you really have no other choice.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Bluke its hard enough getting up for the 5:40 AM minyan, and now slichot are at 5:15 - I can barely keep my eyes open when driving to work in J-lem. I could go to a later minyan (and not help my wife with the kids in the AM), or I could skip minyan altogether. Going to the 10 PM slichot means an extra 25 minutes of sleep in the morning. Is that a decent reason? Who knows...I'm zonked.

Anonymous said...

Whats the point of saying selichos. We all mumble through them. We have no kavana during the 13 medos. Its farce taken to its highest level. Here were are doing teshivah - in part for dovening without any kavana. And then we do that action of teshuva by saying selichos without kavanah. Standing before Hashem and asking for selicho while at the same time commiting an aveirah is utter chutspah.

In addition if one wants to understand what they mean you need more than a translation. Some are quite obtuse.

It would be better not to say them at all.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Doresh: my point is that saying them in the evening one *can* have more kavana -- if they are more awake then, than in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Why not say them in private in the afternoon (and if you wish, lain the 13 middot with ta'amei ha'mikra)? That's better than saying them at night with a minyan, it seems.


yitz said...

Doresh: Selichos are not a farce. If you can't keep up with the minyan you're in, try to find one that davens a bit more slowly. If that's impossible, say them at your OWN pace, whatever that is, and answer Amen at the appropriate time when the minyan needs a response [Kaddish, for example]. Some people find they have BETTER Kavanna by davening very quickly. Others find that mere "mumbling" as you mention, and need to daven at a slower pace. This applies to any and all parts of davening, all year long, not just Selichos in Elul and Tishrei.

I find that the growing phenomenon of Carlebach minyanim is one contribution to those who want to daven with more kavanna and get more out of their davening. Of course, everything can be distorted, and it shouldn't turn into a "concert" or performance. But it can be a very much RICHER form of davening. Everyone needs to find his own thing here.

Regarding the issue at hand, it's hard for me to believe that there isn't one Posek who allows Selichos before Chatzos, which is a growing phenomenon HERE IN ISRAEL. There are even Chassidic shuls that have such Selichos. While I am not a Posek, I have to agree with Jameel that perhaps we just aren't built for very early morning, or very late at night, Selichos and NEED to say them earlier at night or later in the morning. My perception is that is what MOST Jews do...

Awaiting more feedback on this, please!

Anonymous said...

Bluke responded to the 'blog author:
>> Igros Moshe O.C. 2:105, R' Moshe is very against the practice of saying selichos before midnight. <<
> R' Moshe is matir if you really have no other choice. <
and Yitz wrote:
> it's hard for me to believe that there isn't one Posek who allows Selichos before Chatzos <
RMF, for one, does allow saying them at the point where ashmorah #2 took over for ashmorah #1 -- ayin sham (and, as RMF noted, see OC 1:2). Rabbi DNeustadt summarizes the answers to the 'blogger's question -- re RMF, see footnote 3.