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Kashruth Questions of the Week

What is preferable, to wake up early and recite Selichos before dawn, or to stay up late and recite Selichos after Chatzos (midnight)?

Rav Yitzchak Zylberstein (Chashukei Chemed, Yoma 22a) writes that the preferred time to recite Selichos is before dawn. This can be inferred from the words of the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 3:4) who writes that the custom is to awake at night and recite Selichos until the morning. Mishnah Berurah (581:1) as well writes that the end of the night is a time that especially appropriate for prayer. The She’arim Metzuyanim B’Halachah (Yoma 22a) points out that it is more difficult to wake up early to pray than it is to stay up late. Therefore, a prayer offered early in the morning has more value, since it is recited through greater sacrifice. Although in general it is preferable to wake up early to say Selichos, on the first night of Selichos, on Motzei Shabbos, it is preferable to recite Selichos after Chatzos. We attempt to combine the merit of Shabbos together with the first Selichos. Therefore, we try to connect them to Shabbos as early as possible (Chashukei Chemed, ibid.). Mishnah Berurah (581:6) writes that we always begin Selichos on a Motzei Shabbos so there should be a uniform starting date for Selichos.

Which parts of Selichos must be omitted if a minyan is not present?

Shulchan Aruch (OC 565:5) writes that the “Yud Gimmel Midos Harachamim” (thirteen attributes of mercy, Shemos 34:6-7) may not be recited unless there is a minyan. When these pesukim are recited in the context of prayer, they have the elevated status of a “davar she’bikedusha,” like Kadish or Kedusha, that may only be said in the presence of a minyan. The Mishnah Berurah (581:4) writes that Selichos that mention the Yud Gimmel Midos may be said, provided that those lines are skipped. Mishnah Berurah also adds that any Selichos that are written in Aramaic should be skipped. The basis for this is the Gemara (Sotah 33a), in which Rebbi Yochanan states that angels do not deliver prayers that were recited in Aramaic, but when praying with a minyan one does not need the assistance of angels. Hashem’s presence is in their midst and there is no need for angels.

The Mishnah Berurah concludes, if there is no minyan at the beginning of Selichos, Kaddish is not said after Ashrei. Instead, the group should begin reciting Selichos. When the tenth man arrives, the congregation should recite three pesukim together, recite Kaddish and then continue from where they were up to.

It is preferable that the candle used for havdalah motzei Shabbos should have two wicks, so that it is similar to a torch which has significant light (O.C. 298:1). Does the same preference apply to the havdalah candle used motzei Yom Kippur?

The Eishel Avraham (624:5) as well as Rav Sraya Devlitzky (Kitzur Hilchos Hamoadim Dinei Motzei Yom Kippur Siman 10) write that an avukah, torch, is preferred on motzei Yom Kippur just as motzei Shabbos (Dirshu M.B. Hilchos Yom HaKippurim, Miluim p.61, 624:11). However, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l (Shulchan Shlomo, 298:3:1) writes that a braided candle is unnecessary for motzei Yom Kippur. He reasons that on motzei Shabbos, we use a bright- burning braided wick to celebrate the creation of fire by Adam Harishon. In contrast on motzei Yom Kippur, we are acknowledging the prohibition of using fire during the day and a single wick candle is adequate.