31 Aug KASHRUS QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK: SELICHOS & ROSH HASHANAH QUESTIONS
What is preferable? To wake up early and recite Selichos before dawn (a.k.a. alos hashachar, which is 72 minutes before sunrise), or to stay up late and recite Selichos after chatzos (midnight)? What about saying selichos after alos or after neitz hachama (sunrise)?
Rav Yitzchak Zylberstein (Chashukei Chemed, Yoma 22a) writes that the preferred time to recite Selichos is before dawn. This can be inferred from the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 3:4) who writes that it is customary to awake at night and recite Selichos until the morning. In addition, Mishnah Berurah (581:1) writes that the end of the night is an eis rotzon (a propitious time when G-d is receptive to prayer), implying that the early morning is the most appropriate time for Selichos. Finally, the She’arim Metzuyanim B’Halacah (Yoma 22a) notes that Selichos recited in the early morning is more effective, since it is recited through greater sacrifice; it is more difficult to wake up early than to stay up late.
May Selichos be recited after sunrise? Rav Chaim Kanievsky (Divrei Si’ach, vol. 134) holds that it is preferable to recite Selichos after Chatzos than to recite Selichos later in the day after sunrise. On the otherhand, Rav Elyashav and Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach take an opposite opinion and write that it is better to recite Selichos in the daytime (even after sunrise) than to say it after chatzos (quoted in MB Dirshu MB, 581:1). Similiary, the Aruch Hashulchan writes that it has been customary to say selichos in the morning after sunrise for many generations.
On the other hand, Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Igros Moshe OC, 2:102) writes that kabalistically, the period after chatzos is as much an eis ratzon as early dawn, and for this reason, for many generations, it has been customary to recite Selichos at night after chatzos. This is also the opinion of the Minchas Elazar (the previous Munkatcher Rebbi), as recorded in Divrei Torah (141:76).
Even those who recommend saying selichos in early morning before sunrise agree that on the first night of Selichos, on Motzei Shabbos, it is preferable to recite Selichos after Chatzos. This is because we wish to combine the merit of Shabbos together with the first Selichos. Therefore, we begin Selichos after Chatzos, and do not wait for the early morning (Chashukei Chemed, ibid.).
When is the proper time to recite Tashlich?
The Magen Avrohom (583:5) quotes the Kesavim of the Arizal that the ideal time to recite Tashlich on Rosh Hashanah is on the first day after Mincha, before shkia (sunset). This is cited by the Mishnah Berurah as well and many other poskim, though the Maharil (Minhagim – Rosh Hashanah 9), who was the first to record this custom, writes that Tashlich is recited after the meal (i.e., before mincha). Sefer Keser Shem Tov offers several reasons to recite Tashlich after Mincha:
We deliberately delay Tashlich until late in the afternoon since this is an auspicious time to have one’s prayers answered. We find that Eliyahu Hanavi’s prayers were answered at this time.
We want to connect Tashlich with Mincha, since Yitzchok Avinu instituted Mincha, and Tashlich is recited to elicit the remembrance of Akeidas Yitzchok
The Mateh Efraim (598:4,7) writes that if Tashlich was not said before shkia, it can be said after shkia. Although the custom is to recite Tashlich after Mincha, if one will not have time after Mincha, it can be said before Mincha. If it was not said on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, it should be said on the second day. Likutei Maharich writes that if it was not said on Rosh Hashanah, it can be said during Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.
Is one permitted to fast on Rosh Hashanah?
One is not permitted to fast on Rosh Hashanah because Rosh Hashanah is a Yom Tov. For this reason, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 597:1) rules that one must eat, drink and rejoice on Rosh Hashanah. Nonetheless, unlike other Yomim Tovim, one should not overindulge, lest the solemn nature of the day will be obscured. However, there were Rishonim who held that it is permissible to fast during the daytime because Rosh Hashanah is a day of teshuva. Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt”l said that his great-grandfather, the Beis HaLevi, would fast both days. In fact, there were those who would fast even on Shabbos Rosh Hashanah because they considered the importance of teshuva on this day to be on the level of pikuach nefesh (life threatening), which overrides the requirement to eat a Shabbos seuda. Although in practice we follow the Shulchan Aruch and do not fast on Rosh Hashanah, the Mishnah Berurah (584:5) makes a distinction between Rosh Hashanah which falls on Shabbos, and Rosh Hashanah which falls on a weekday, as follows: When Rosh Hashanah falls on a weekday, we are permitted to extend the davening into the afternoon, while if Rosh Hashanah is on Shabbos, we are required to finish davening before chatzos (halachic midday) so as not to fast past the morning.