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Chapter 128:6
The Month of Elul

6. The chazan leading the Selichos should wrap himself in a tallis before beginning with the recitation of the Ashrei prayer. There is a question as to whether or not a person is required to recite a blessing if he dons his tallis while it is still dark (1). Therefore, he should not use his own tallis or that of the congregation (2), but rather borrow a tallis from a colleague. (3) If there is no tallis available, it is permissible to recite the Selichos, including the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, without a tallis.

In certain communities, it is customary that the chazan who leads the Selichos also leads the evening service of the previous day and the subsequent morning and afternoon services. [In the communities where this custom is observed,] this person is given precedence to lead the service, over a mourner, a mohel ( one who performs the circumcision), and a person commemorating a yahrzeit (anniversary of a death).

It is proper to stand while reciting Selichos (4). A person who has difficulty standing should stand at least during the recitation of the passage "Keil Melech Yoshev," and during the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. The laws governing the confessional prayer ("Vidui") are discussed in Chapter 131, Law 9.


(1) Because according to one view, one is exempt from wearing tzitzis at night (Mishna Berura 581:6)

(2) Which is considered like one's own, because it was purchased by the congregation as a whole, with the intent that whoever wears it, will be considered like its owner (Ibid).

(3) In such an instance, one is not obligated to recite a blessing, because one is obligated to recite a blessing only on one's own tallis. When borrowing the tallis, one should have in mind that he is taking it only for the sake of honor (that is appropriate for one leading the Selichos), and not to acquire it as a temporary gift which will be returned (Ibid.). If one's own tallis is the only one available, one should put it on for Selichos without a blessing, and then, when it gets light, one should hold the tzitzis in one's hand, and recite the blessing (Sha'ar Ha'Tziyun 581:5).

(4) The Mishna Berura doesn't mention this halacha.

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