Halacha » Q&A: Selichot

Q&A: Selichot

Can a minyan say Selichot at night if they really don’t have time to do so in the day?

From nightfall until midnight, one must absolutely not say Selichot, since according to Kabala it’s a time that rises bad spiritual effects. Even if one is asked to complete a minyan and be the tenth one, it’s still not permitted and even if he happened to be in a shul with others saying them, he shouldn’t answer with them.[1]

If there are less than ten men in a shul, may they still say Selichot?

If there aren’t ten men saying Selichot, there is a dispute as to whether the Arameic parts should be omitted. According to Chacham Ovadia[2] one shouldn’t say them. The Or Letsion writes however, that even though one isn’t obligated to say them, if he wishes he may, as if it won’t benefit, it won’t hurt, and this seems to be the opinion of the Ben Ish Chai as well.[3] The י״ג מדות one may say having in mind that he is just reading verses and not pleading.[4]

When is the preferable time to say Selichot, midnight or early in the morning?

There is a machloket:[5] according to Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky the best time is before sunrise, and second best is midnight.

But Rav Elyashiv held that after sunrise is better than midnight. Rav Aurbach wasn’t pleased with saying it at midnight, seemingly because it’s late and people rush through the Selichot, saying them without the right intention.

One who woke up late, right before the last time for Keriat Shema, is it better for him to say Shema itself and say Selichot before praying, or pray with saying Shema on time and then say Selichot?

It is preferable to pray on time with saying Shema in the prayer and after Tefila, say Selichot.[6]

Is a Congregation that wants to say Selichot at night after midnight allowed to save time by first saying the parts that are permitted to say before midnight, and then say the י״ג מדות?

Although such a thing isn’t forbidden, but it is advisable not to change the order of Selichot.[7] However, a shul who’s waiting for the tenth person, doesn’t have to delay the set time for Selichot and are permitted to change the order in order to save time.

Is there a minhag for Sefaradim to blow the shofar in the month of Elul?

Sephardim don’t blow shofar after Tefila as Ashkenazim do, but some do blow at Selichot while saying the י״ג מדות. It should be avoided if there are neighbors who might wake up from the noise.[8]

[1] ברכ״י תקפא,א כה״ח ב-ג

[2] חזו״ע ימים נוראים עמוד יא

[3] אור״צ ח״ד עמוד יח

[4] ש״ע תקסא,ה

[5] אשי ישראל פרק מה, הערה יב

[6] מקור נאמן סי’ תקכא

[7] מקור נאמן סי’ תקכא

[8] חזון עובדיה כד