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    We all are familiar
    with the custom of
    reciting Selichos
    from before Rosh
    Hashanah until Erev
    Yom Kippur (and
    some communities
    even from Rosh
    Chodesh Elul).).
    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
    mMotza’ei Shabbos?
    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.
    Before Chatzos
    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
    their sleep.
    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)
    during mMinchah.
    Those who say sSelichos before

    chatzos do not recite the Yud-
    Gimmel thirteen middos, Ashrei,

    Kaddish after Ashrei, and the
    lLecha Hashem…
    Motza’ei Shabbos
    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.