Halacha for Tuesday 2 Elul 5781 August 10 2021

What is the Most Preferable Time to Recite Selichot?

The prevalent custom is to recite Selichot during the early morning hours, i.e. at the end of the nighttime hours, before Shacharit prayers. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that the reason for reciting Selichot during the early morning hours is based on the words of the holy Zohar which states that Heavenly kindness is aroused upon the world during the early morning hours, as the verse states, “During the day, Hashem commands His kindness.” However, from the time of Mincha until halachic midnight, the attribute of Heavenly judgment takes control upon the world. From halachic midnight on though, Heavenly kindness and the attribute of mercy are once again awakened and it is for this reason that King David writes, “I shall arise at midnight to thank You.” It is therefore improper to recite Selichot in the beginning of the night which is the time of increased Heavenly judgment. The Mekubalim discuss this matter at length and write that one may not recite Selichot during the first half of the night. It has therefore become the prevalent Jewish custom in all communities to recite Selichot during the early morning hours.

Nevertheless, Maran zt”l writes that those who, for whatever reason, cannot recite Selichot during the early morning hours before Shacharit may indeed recite Selichot before Mincha as well. Although the aforementioned Zohar states that the attribute of harsh Heavenly judgment takes control at the time of Mincha (besides for Shabbat when, on the contrary, the time of Mincha is a time of great Heavenly mercy), it nonetheless seems that Selichot may be recited before Mincha, for the primary hours of the Heavenly judgment’s control are during the actual nighttime hours, i.e. from nightfall until halachic midnight.

It is nevertheless preferable not to recite Selichot during the first half of the night at all, for the great Mekubalim write that one who does so causes great spiritual damage. It is therefore better to abstain from doing so.

Regarding those residing outside of Israel who wish to recite Selichot before halachic midnight in their location but at a time when halachic midnight in Israel has already passed, according to some opinions, they may indeed do so, for this issue is contingent upon the halachic midnight in Israel. Nevertheless, many authorities disagree with this opinion and rule that this matter is indeed contingent on the halachic midnight in one’s present location. This is indeed the final ruling of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (see Responsa Yechave Da’at, Volume 1, Chapter 46, Chazon Ovadia-Yamim Nora’im, page 4, and Torat Ha’Mo’adim-Yamim Nora’im, page 6). Nonetheless, the great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a writes (in his Yalkut Yosef-Yamim Nora’im, page 38) that there is room for leniency when a Minyan  in the United States recites Selichot along with other Jews in Israel via a live hook-up although the time of halachic midnight has not yet arrived in the United States.

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Mentioning “Mashiv Ha’Ruach”

We Begin Reciting “Mashiv Ha’Ruach” “Mashiv Ha’Ruach U’Morid Ha’Geshem” is a praise we recite to Hashem during the winter months within the “Mechayeh Ha’Metim” blessing of the Amidah as is printed in all Siddurim. We begin recitin......

Read Halacha

The Laws of One Who Forgets to Mention “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” in the “Blessing of the Years”

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed in a general manner that our Sages enacted that beginning from the Seventh of Marcheshvan (outside of Israel from the Fourth or Fifth of December), one begins reciting “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” (a request for dew and rain) in the “B......

Read Halacha

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

“The Blessing of the Years”

Beginning from last night, the Seventh of Marcheshvan, we have begun to request rain in the Amida prayer (only in the Land of Israel; the law for those outside of Israel will be discussed further). Let us therefore review some of these pertinent laws. The Enactment of the Sages to Request Rain O......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Shevi’it in a Cooperative Garden

This year (5782) is the Shemitta year. In previous Halachot, we have already explained the basic laws of Shemitta including the fact that one may not plant in or work (in any manner) any land within the Land of Israel unless the work is meant to protect the crops from harm that will befall them if t......

Read Halacha

When the Sanctity of Shevi’it Will Apply to Fruits and Vegetables and More on “Heter Mechira”

In the previous Halachot we have explained that any produce grown in Jewish-owned fields in the Land of Israel this year (5782) retain the sanctity of Shevi’it. We have likewise discussed the ramifications of this sanctity and the proper way to treat such produce. This sanctity rests even on f......

Read Halacha

Sprouting Avocado Pits During Shevi’it and the Blessing on Hydroponic Produce

Question: What is the blessing on vegetables that grow from the water (and not from the ground)? Likewise, is it permissible to plant such hydroponic produce during Shevi’it? Answer: The Blessing on Mushrooms and Truffles The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (40b) states: “On things whi......

Read Halacha

Forbidden and Permissible Forms of Work During Shevi’it

In this Halacha and the next, we shall discuss the basic laws of tending to a garden during Shevi’it. We shall not discuss all of the details of these laws, for these laws do not apply to those residing outside of Israel. Works Forbidden by Torah Law and Rabbinic Enactment Some works forbi......

Read Halacha