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.