05 Sep THE TIME FOR SELICHOS
We all are familiar
with the custom of
from before Rosh
Hashanah until Erev
Yom Kippur (and
even from Rosh
The question arises
each year when the Selichos period is
upon us as to when selichos should
be recited. At this time, we try to fit
the selichos into our busy schedules.
Many places have a practice to say
selichos at 10:00 p.m., some at 1:00
a.m., and others before shacharis in
the morning. When is the opportune
time to recite selichos? Why do the
Ashkenazim start after chatzos on
The Best Time
The Rambam says that during the
Aseres Yemei teshuvah we get up “at
night” and say words of tachanunim.
The Shulchan Aruch mentions as well
that we awake in “ashmores haboker”
to say selichos, which is understood
to mean night. Many authorities
quote this and rule that one should
say selichos at night before alos
The reason for saying it at night is
because that time is a time of ratzon.
There are those who have the custom
to recite selichos at chatzos, since
that is also a time of ratzon.
There are those who have a minyan
for selichos and Yud-Gimmel13
middos before chatzos; however,
this practice is frowned upon by
the poskim. In fact, Harav Yaakov
Kamenetsky zt”l mentions that he is
not sure what the heter is for it.
Although we do recite selichos on
Yom Kippur night before chatzos,
this should not serve as any proof
that doing so is permitted, since Yom
Kippur is a day of mercy.
Some people might be
tempted to daven at the
10:00 p.m. minyan in
order to get up to go
to work in the morning
without waking up
earlier to say selichos.
In addition, some may
be scared to go out
early in the morning
and would rather do it
at night. Furthermore,
people are tired from
working all day, and
do not want to sacrifice
Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l dealt
with this question in Igros Moshe.He
maintains that since the Gemaraorah
never actually forbids saying selichos
before chatzos, we cannot prohibit
this practice. If the option is to recite
selichos before chatzos or not to
recite them at all in the morning, one
should recite them at night with the
early minyan. However, he adds that
this should not be done on a regular
basis, and cannot be done year
after year. Some suggest that the
source for saying selichos before
chatzos, usually about 10:00 p.m.,
is because in Eretz Yisroel it is after
chatzos. Therefore, it is permitted
even though it is before chatzos in
other parts of the world.
One who wishes may recite
selichos at minchah (although this
practice is not common), since
we recite viduiy (nusach Sephard)
Those who say sSelichos before
chatzos do not recite the Yud-
Gimmel thirteen middos, Ashrei,
Kaddish after Ashrei, and the
Ashkenazim begin reciting selichos
on Motza’ei Shabbos after chatzos.
On this day, they are particular to
recite selichos at night, since we
say in the portion of the selichos,
“B’motza’ei yom menuchah,”
which is referring to Shabbos.
Therefore, it cannot be said on
Some hold that one should change
to weekday clothing before reciting
selichos on Motza’ei Shabbos.
We all need as much mercy as
possible during these days, and we
should make sure to recite selichos in
the most opportune time frame, and
try not to rely on leniencies.
Selichos at Night or Early Morning
Whether one is saying selichos at
night or early in the morning, he
may say it loud even if he may
be a nuisance to some neighbors.
However, one should still try to
ensure that the windows are closed to
avoid disturbing the neighbors.
Sunrise and Selichos
We have mentioned above that the
opportune time for Selichos is at alos
hashachar. Even after sunrise, which
is the opportune time for Shacharis,
one should still recite Selichos first.
This is true despite the concept
that whatever is more common
comes first. It is possible that since
reciting Selichos is a custom, it takes
precedence over davening.
Why Selichos before Davening
On fast days, we say selichos during
davening. Why do we say them
before davening during Elul?
It is possible that we need the extra
merits, so we say selichos earlier
to add to our merits. On fast days,
the selichos are added as an extra
aspect to tefillah, so we say them
after Shemoneh Esrei. In addition,
selichos before davening can help us
prepare ourselves to daven with more
concentration, and be a merit for us
during the days of Elul.
If one comes to shul and they have
already started davening, he can
daven with them and then say selichos
later at another minyan.