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The month of Elul is a month in which everyone has the opportunity to prepare himself for the day of Judgement and the new year. There are various practices that we do during this month in order to further that goal.
- 1 Selichot
- 2 LeDavid Hashem Ori
- 3 Blowing Shofar
- 4 Hatarat Nedarim
- 5 Other practices
- 6 Related Pages
- 7 Links
- 8 Sources
When to Start Reciting Selichot
- The Sephardic minhag is to begin reciting Selichot from the day after Rosh Chodesh Elul.
- The Ashkenazi custom is to start reciting Selichot from the Sunday before Rosh HaShana, unless Rosh HaShana falls out on Monday or Tuesday, in which case, Ashkenazim start from two Sundays before Rosh HaShana.
- There are no Selichot on Shabbat.
When Should Selichot be Said?
- Preferably, Selichot should be said at the end of the night before Olot HaShachar, but if one delayed one can say it after Olot HaShachar. However, it is permissible to recite Selichot earlier in the night as long as one is sure not to start before Chatzot (halachic midnight).
- Those congregations which aren't able to rise early to say Selichot, should nonetheless say Selichot, either in the morning before Shacharit or even in the afternoon before Mincha.
- On Erev Rosh HaShana one should make an extra effort to get up early to say Selichot before Olot HaShachar.
- Some communities, such as the Spanish-Portugese of London and Amsterdam, recited a condensed version of Selichot after Arvit before Kaddish Titkabal. This custom is frowned upon by Poskim like the Chida, who argue one who finds himself in a shul where Selichot are being recited before midnight should not recite the yud gimmel middot along with the congregation. Instead, he should remain silent or recite Tehillim.
- Although one shouldn't say the Yud Gimmel Middot before chatzot of the night, one is permitted to listen to them via a recording in order to practice the words and the tunes.
Order of Selichot
- According to Sephardim, one must say Brachot HaTorah before saying Selichot because there are a number of pesukim in Selichot.
- The Selichot should be said with proper intent (Kavanah), slowly, and with humility, especially when one is reciting the Yud Gimmel Middot HaRachamim.
- One should say the words "Vaya'avor Hashem Al Panav" together with the Shaliach Tzibbur quietly and then say the Yud Gimmel Middot HaRachamim aloud.
- One should be careful to pause in between the two names of Hashem in the Yud Gimmel Middot HaRachamim.
- One should bow slightly when saying "Hashem Hashem" in the Yud Gimmel Middot HaRachamim.
- One should pause between "Bshem" and "Hashem" in the Yud Middot.
- When saying the Yud Gimmel Middot HaRachamim one shouldn't count the Middot on one's fingers because there is a dispute as to which Middot are counted as the 13.
- Here's the text of Sephardi Selichot on daat.ac.il and text of Ashkenazic Selichot on wikisource.org.
Individuals Who Can't Wake Up for Selichot
- A Torah scholar (Talmid Chacham) who isn't able to wake up for Selichot because he is learning in the early hours of the morning and by going to Selichot it will ruin his schedule he should try to go to Selichot during the Aseret Yamei Teshuva (Ten days of Repentance) and some days of Elul. However, if he is up passed Chatzot it's preferable to say some paragraphs of Selichot and Tikkun Chatzot (which takes precedence over Selichot).
- Teachers who teach in the morning and getting up early for Selichot would prevent them from doing their job well should only get up for Selichot some days in Elul and during the Aseret Yimei Teshuva. The same is true for hired workers and officials (who would have their work impacted by rising early). Nonetheless, it's preferable to at least say Selichot to oneself before Shacharit or Mincha.
- One should make an effort to say Selichot with fervor and strength and not fall asleep during davening until the very end. This is especially the case for someone wearing Tefillin for whom it is forbidden to sleep. It's better not to wake up early for Selichot if it will end up ruining the prayers and and cause one to fall asleep with Tefillin.
- If one doesn't have sufficient time to say all of Selichot because the time for Tefillah has arrived, one should skip "Im Afes Rovah Haken", "Bezichrei Al Mishkavi", "Lemitvadeh Chatatav", and "Aylecha Hashem Naasati Aynay", according to the need.
Selichot Without a Minyan
- If one is praying without a minyan, he should not say the thirteen attributes as a prayer,  but one can read the Yud Gimmel middot (13 attributes) with the cantillation as if he is simply reading the torah.
- Without a minyan, one also cannot recite the paragraphs that are in Aramaic.
- An individual can say the paragraph of "Kel Melech" even though it says "Zechor Lanu Hayom..." in the plural.
- If there was no minyan when the tzibbur recited Ashrei, they should wait to have a minyan to recite Kaddish and when they get a minyan they first say three pesukim before reciting Kaddish.
- If there was a minyan in the beginning and then some people left, they can continue and even say Kaddish after Selichot.
- If one hears the Yud Gimmel Middot or Kaddish in a live via radio or video he can answer. If it is recorded, he cannot answer.
Shliach Tzibbur for Selichot
- Any Jew is fit for being a Shliach Tzibbur as long as the congregation accepts him.
- Preferably, the congregation should carefully choose a proper Shliach Tzibbur who is married, thirty years old, and the more he is learned and practices good deeds the better. However, someone who is learned and Yireh Shamayim is preferred over someone who lacks these qualities but fits the requirements of being married and thirty years old.
- The minhag has become to permit paying the shaliach tzibbur and the baal tokea for the yamim noraim since it is for a mitzvah.
Wearing Tallit for Selichot
- The Shliach Tzibbur should wear a Tallit during Selichot. However, he shouldn’t make a Bracha if he puts it on at night before Olot HaShachar and to remove himself from controversy he should borrow a Tallit from a friend (and not use a public Tallit) and have intent that one is not acquiring the Tallit it but only using for respect of the congregation.
- If one wear Tzitzit earlier than Olot HaShachar (for example, for Selichot) and then after Olot HaShachar (and preferably after MeSheyakir) puts on a Tallit, one should only make one Bracha on Tzitzit and Tallit even if one puts on Tzitzit a long time before the Tallit.
- A bachur who doesn’t wear a Tallit should be careful to make the Bracha on Tzitzit right after Olot HaShachar after feeling the Tzitzit. However, if someone who slept in the Tzitzit all night, one can not make a Bracha on that pair of tzitzit in the morning (nor should he remove the Tzitzit so as to make a hefsek in order to require a Bracha).
LeDavid Hashem Ori
- The Minhag Ashkenaz is to recite "LeDavid Hashem Ori" (Psalm 27) once in the morning and once in the evening from Rosh Chodesh Elul until and including Shemini Aseret (and in Israel until and including Hoshana Rabba). LeDavid Hashem Ori should be said after Shacharit (after Shir Shel Yom). On days when there’s Mussaf, LeDavid Hashem Ori is said before Ein Chamocha. On Rosh Chodesh, Barchi Nafshi is said before LeDavid Hashem Ori.
- Ashkenazim say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Mariv, however, some say it after mincha.
- For Sephardim it’s also proper to say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Shacharit.
- The Ashkenazic minhag is to blow the Shofar after Shacharit during Elul. Some have the practice to start on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, while others start on the second day of Rosh Chodesh.
- Many Sephardic communities have adopted this practice and blow every day of Elul during Kaddish at the conclusion of Selichot right before Titkabal, as well as during the recitation of the 13 Middot. Nevertheless, one must be careful not to miss reciting the 13 Middot because he is busy blowing the Shofar, and it shouldn't be done if it will wake up sleeping neighbors.
- One does not blow the Shofar during Elul if one is davening by oneself. The shofar is only blown with a minyan.
- If for some reason a minyan did not blow the Shofar after Shacharit they should blow it after Mincha.
- See the Hatarat Nedarim page.
- Some pious individuals have the minhag of checking their Tefillin and Mezuzot during Elul.
- There is no problem with making a wedding during Elul. However, it is preferable that a ben yeshiva should try to schedule it before elul so as not to disrupt the torah learning during elul when yeshivas usually re-open. But if he couldn't, there is no reason to push it off to after the yamim noraim 
- The custom is that during elul, one who writes a letter should write a blessing to the recipient that he should be inscribed in the book of life, such as "lishana tova tichatevu vitichatemu." The same is true of email's or the like.
- Article from 5772 on Minhagim of Elul
- Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Rosh HaShanah and Yom HaKippurim (Hebrew, 5775)
- Laws of Elul and Selichot by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
- Halakhot of Elul by Rabbi Chaim Brovender
- The Rosh (Rosh Hashana 4:14) writes that a number of Geonim had the minhag of saying Selichot during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, while other places said them from Rosh Chodesh Elul because that is when Moshe was on Har Sinai receiving the second Luchot. Tur Orach Chaim 581 notes that there are three different traditions and adds that the Ashkenaz tradition is to begin on the Saturday Night prior to Rosh Hashanah when Rosh HaShanah begins on Thursday or Shabbat. If it begins on Monday or Tuesday, Selichot begin on the Sunday prior to that. While the Rambam (Teshuva 3:4) follows the minhag of the Geonim, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 581:1 writes that the Sephardic minhag is to begin reciting Selichot from Rosh Chodesh Elul. Mishna Brurah 581:1 explains that Shulchan Aruch means from Rosh Chodesh and not Rosh Chodesh itself. Maamar Mordechai (Rav Mordechai Eliyahu) 34:1, Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 9, Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 1 agree that such is the Sephardic minhag. This is also quoted by the Arizal in Shaar Hakavanot 89:4, Ravyah 542, Machzor Vitri 323, Kol Bo 65. Meiri Chibur Hateshuva Page 207 says this is what should be done, and adds that selichot is a partial fulfillment of learning the laws of each holidays 30 days prior. In Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 1 and Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 9 it is explained that the reason for this is that tradition says that rosh chodesh elul is the day Moshe went up to Sinai the second time for forty days which were days of prayer and begging for mercy for the Jewish people, ending on Yom Kippur which which was the day of atonement. see also Sefer HaManhig Hilchot Rosh Hashana 1:25
- See previous footnote. Rama Orach Chaim 581:1 writes that the minhag Ashekenaz is to start saying Selichot from the Sunday before Rosh HaShana unless Rosh HaShana falls out on Monday or Tuesday, in which case, Ashkenazim start from two Sundays before Rosh HaShana. Mishna Brurah 581:6 explains that the reason that the preparation is no less than four days is because some had the custom to fast for ten days prior to Yom Kippur, however, since one can’t fast on Rosh HaShana’s two days, Shabbat Shuvah, and Erev Yom Kippur, one had to begin fasting four days prior to Rosh HaShana (see there for other reasons).
- Maamar Mordechai (Rav Mordechai Eliyahu) 34:2 writes that there are no Selichot on Shabbat.
- Mishna Brurah (Introduction to 581), Maamar Mordechai (Rav Mordechai Eliyahu) 34:5 write that preferably, Selichot should be said at the end of the night before Olot HaShachar.
- Maamer Mordechai 34:5.
- The Magen Avraham 565:5 quotes the Arizal as saying that one should not say Selichot, particularly the 13 middot of rachamim, prior to Chatzot at night. Similarly, Rav Moshe Zachuto in Sht Ramaz 30 writes that it is important to only say selichot after chatzot. The Birkei Yosef 581:1, Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 9, Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 2 and Mishna Brurah 565:12 agree.
- Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe 2:105) writes that although prior to Chatzot is not the ideal time, there is no prohibition to say Selichot at such a time, and as a Hora’at Sha’ah, one may be lenient. His proof is Shulchan Aruch O.C. 1:2 who rules that praying at the end of the first third of the night is considered a time of mercy. However, Rav Ovadyah Yosef (Chazon Ovadyah Yamim Nora’im p. 3-6) argues that there is a prohibition based on Kabbalah. He concludes that if the congregation can’t wake up to say Selichot at night, it may say them during the day before Shacharit or Mincha. Kaf HaChaim 581:1,2, and Maamer Mordechai (Rav Mordechai Eliyahu) 34:4 hold that one should only say Selichot after Chatzot and if one had a minhag to say it earlier one should change the minhag. Chacham Ovadia Yosef in Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 2-3) as well as Yechave Daat 1:46 and his son in Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 9 agree that it forbidden to say Selichot before Chatzot, which he clearly spells out is 12 halachic hours after midday which is 6 halachic hours after sunrise. Shaare Teshuvah 581:1 quotes the Birkei Yosef 588:4 that if you find yourself in a minyan saying Selichot before chatzot, that you shouldn't answer to the 13 middot
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim beginning) brings two opinions without drawing a conclusion. In the English edition of Yalkut Yosef (vol 14 pg 49 in note 4), the author writes clearly in name of Rav Ovadyah that one may not rely on this leniency and each place must not say Selichot prior to chatzot in that locale. Rav Ovadyah in Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 4) writes clearly that this isn't an acceptable leniency.
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 6-7), Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 10, Yechave Daat 1:46. In Iggerot Moshe OC 2:105, Rav Moshe permits under extenuating circumstances to recite selichot after 1/3 of the night has passed. [http://www.torah.org/advanced/weekly-halacha/5757/nitzavim.html Rav Doniel Neustadt says this shouldn't be relied upon on a consistent basis.
- Maamer Mordechai 34:5
- Shaare Teshuva 581:1 quoting Birkei Yosef, Orach Chaim 581:1. See Keter Shem Tov vol. 5 page 13 who notes how the custom has no source in early Poskim and seems to just be a means of keeping the custom of Selichot alive for those whose inability to attend early in the morning will result in the obliteration of the custom. At the same time, Rav Gaguine notes, the communities in London and Amsterdam have no hand in Kabbalah, which is the source of the insistence not to recite Selichot before chatzot, in the first place. Therefore, there is no reason for them to change their practice due to other Poskim's Kabbalistic concerns. In those locales, it is anyway too cold to get up early in the morning, unlike Spain, so they also do Selichot at 7:00AM. Magen Avot (Orach Chaim fn. 437) refers to Darchei David who finds additional room for leniency to uphold the Spanish-Portuguese custom to do Selichot at night after Arvit. See footnotes above for the full discussion.
- Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 20. See also page 21 where he writes that if one hears the 13 middot or kaddish via a live feed, he should answer, but if it isn't live then he doesn't answer.
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 5) based on Shulchan Aruch 46:9 and Rambam in Sh"t Peor Hador 104, Birkei Yosef 46:14, Mishna Brurah 46:27. Aruch Hashulchan 46:14 says this isn't necessary based on the Rama in 46:9 that allows saying pesukim that are said as supplication to be said without reciting birkot hatorah first. Nitai Gavriel (Rosh Hashana ch. 10, fnt. 1) advises saying birchos hatorah before selichos unless one is in a rush in which case one can rely on those who say you don’t need to say it before selichos. See []
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 20)
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 32)
- Kaf Hachaim 131:20, Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, p. 32), Yalkut Yosef (Moadim p. 14, 5748 edition)
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 32)
- Magen Avraham 565:5, Eliya Rabba 581:9, Mishna Brurah 581:4
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, p. 33), Yalkut Yosef tefilla volume 2 page 399.
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 8-10), Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 11, Sh"t Yechave Daat 3:44. (see also Sh"t Yabia Omer OC 2:28:8-9, Sh"t Yabia Omer YD 4:19, for a similar discussion) Sefer Seder Hayom page 57 warns that a person shouldn't neglect to recite selichot with the argument that his time is better spent learning rather than praying. Mateh Ephraim 581:11 also stresses a similar idea. The Rama in Darkei Moshe 581:2 quotes the Haghot Ashri saying that any talmid chacham should make sure to recite selichot
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 10), Yabia Omer OC 2:28:8
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 10-11), Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 12, Chida in Moreh Bietzbah 245
- Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, p. 33)
- Rashba Teshuva 1:211 writes that the 13 middot of Rachamim can't be said without a minyan since they are a dvar shebekedusha. This is codified by the Shulchan Aruch O.C. 565:5, Mishna Brurah 581:4, and Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim, pg 11).
- Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 565:5, Yechave Daat 1:47, Yalkut Yosef Tefilla 2: page 131, Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim 27, [Halacha Yomit], Sh"t Rashba 1:211, Chida in Machazik Beracha 131:6, Ben Ish Chai (Shanah Aleph, Parashat Ki Tisa Halacha 9). Iggerot Moshe YD 3:21 allows them to be recited without a minyan as long you use any melody other than the one used for prayer and doesn't require that it be the same cantilations as the torah.
- Mateh Efraim 581:21, Yabia Omer 10:footnotes to Rav Pealim OC 3:41. Rav Mordechai Lebhar writes (Magen Avot, Orach Chaim 581:1) in Morocco and Djerba the Aramaic portions were not skipped; however, Amen was said instead of "Bedil Vayaavor."
- Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 13, Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 30
- Mishna Brurah 581:4 quoting the Eliyah Rabba
- Mishna Brurah 581:4. Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 23 says not to say the kaddish titkabal at the conclusion of selichot if you no longer have ten people.
- Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 21
- Rama 581:1
- Rama 581:1
- Mishna Brurah 581:13
- Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 19, Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 39
- Maharil Hilchot Yamim Noraim 4 says there is a custom that the shliach tzibbur should wear a Tallit even at night for selichot since the gemara in rosh hashana 17 says that Hashem wrapped himself in tzitzit like a shliach tzibbur to recite the yud gimmel middot. Mishna Brurah 581:6 writes that the Levush says that the Shliach Tzibbur should wear a Tallit during Selichot but not make a Bracha since there’s a dispute if one can fulfill Tzitzit at night. However, the Taz 581:2 argues that one shouldn’t enter himself into a dispute (whether to make a Bracha) and so one should rather borrow a Tallit from a friend and have Kavana not to acquire it but to use it for respect. see Mikraei Kodesh by Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank Yamim Noraim Siman 1 for the discussion of why the Taz suggests borrowing a friend's Tallit rather than the shuls.
- Mishna Brurah 8:24 writes that for sure one should make the Bracha of Tallit and cover the Tzitzit rather than make a Bracha on Tzitzit and then on Tallit. Even if there will be a long time between putting on the Tzitzit and wearing the Tallit, one should still say only one Bracha on the Tallit because there are many concerns about making the Bracha on the Tzitzit (it may not be split on the sides a majority, it may not fit the proper Shuir, or one may have slept in the Tzitzit). [this is also brought in Yalkut Yosef (Tzitzit pg 294, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 16:2).]
- Minchat Shlomo 4:1:3 writes that regarding Selichot a bachur who doesn’t wear a Tallit should be careful to make the Bracha on Tzitzit right after Olot after feeling the Tzitzit. This is based on the Rama 18:3 who writes that if one put on a Tallit Katan before Olot HaShachar, then, at Olot one should feel the strings of the Tzitzit and make a Bracha.
- Mishna Brurah 8:42
- Mishna Brurah 581:2 says that the Minhag Ashkenaz is to say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Shacharit from Rosh Chodesh Elul until and including Shemini Aseret. LeDavid Hashem Ori should be said after Shir Shel Yom. On days when there’s Mussaf, LeDavid Hashem Ori is said before Ein Chamocha. On Rosh Chodesh, Barchei Nafsei is said before LeDavid Hashem Ori. Sh”t Shevet HaLevi 10:67 and Chazon Ovadyah (pg 24) writes that in Israel the minhag is to say it until and including Hoshana Rabba.
- Mateh Efraim 551:6 writes that LeDavid Hashem Ori in the evening should be said after Mincha. This is also the opinion of Mishna Brurah 581:2. However, Elef HaMagen 581:10 holds that LeDavid Hashem Ori should be said after Mariv. Shalmei Moed (pg 21) in name of Rav Shlomo Zalman writes that one should follow the minhag of the Tzibbur one is praying with. Shalmei Moed (pg 21) says that the minhag Ashkenaz is to say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Mariv (such is how the Artscroll Siddur has it).
- Chazon Ovadyah pg 24 writes that even for sephardim it’s proper to say LeDavid Hashem after Shacharit.
- The Rosh (Rosh Hashana 4:14) quotes Pirkei D’Rabi Eliezer, which says that Chazal established a practice of blowing the shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul because a shofar was blown when Moshe ascended Har Sinai on Rosh Chodesh Elul. It continues that the shofar is blown in order to motivate Bnei Yisrael to do teshuva and to confuse the Satan. The Rosh adds that this is the basis for the Ashkenazic minhag of blowing shofar during Elul. The Rama Orach Chaim 581:1 writes that the minhag is to blow the shofar during Elul after Shacharit, and some do so also after Maariv. Mishna Brurah 581:3 writes that some start on the first day of Rosh Chodesh and some start from the second day of Rosh Chodesh.
- Kaf HaChaim 581:13, Mekor Chaim 209:1, Chazon Ovadia (Yamim Noraim, page 24), Yalkut Yosef (Yamim Noraim, page 46), Magen Avot ad loc, Laws of Holidays by R' Yonatan Nacson page 367. See Pninei Halacha.
- Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 12:48
- Sh"t Iggerot Moshe 4:21, Aruch Hashulchan 581:12
- Mateh Efraim 581:10 writes that as part of being introspective during Elul, some pious individuals check their Tefillin and Mezuzot during Elul. He concludes that it is a good minhag. This is quoted by the Kitzur S”A 128:3, Chazon Ovadyah (p. 26), and Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 18. Also see Yechave Daat 1:49. It is noteworthy that S”A 39:10 rules that Tefillin that were established as being kosher do not have to be checked if they are used frequently. Additionally, S”A Y.D. 291:1 rules that Mezuzot should be checked twice every seven years. see also Daily Halacha by Rabbi Eli Mansour
- Sh"t Yechave Daat 1:48, Sdei Chemed Maarechet Chatan Vikalla Siman 23
- Sh"t Yechave Daat 1:48
- Mateh Efraim 581:9, Chazon Ovadia Yamim Noraim page 26. Rabbi Eli Mansour's Daily Halacha adds that one should includes this in emails as well.
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