The Month of Elul
8. A mourner who is still within the twelve month mourning period for his
father or mother, should not lead the prayer services on Rosh Hashana and
Yom Kippur, nor should he blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana (1), unless there
is no one else as suitable ("hogun") for the job. If he is within the first
thirty days of mourning for any of the other close relatives [that he is
obligated to mourn for] (2), and he has been leading the High Holiday
services or blowing the shofar for a number of years (that is, he has a
"chazakah"), it is permitted [for him to perform those duties], because
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur cancel the thirty day mourning period (3).
However, if he has not performed these duties for a number of years, and
there is another who is just as suitable, he should be stringent, [and
allow the other person to perform the duties].
It is permitted for any mourner to lead the services for Selichos, even on
Erev Rosh Hashana (4), but not during the "Shiva" (the first seven days of
(1) The Mishna Berura 581:7, does not mention that a mourner should not
blow the shofar.
(2) A wife, son, daughter, sister or brother.
(3) The Mishna Berura (Ibid.) rules that a mourner (both within 12 months
for parents or 30 days for the other relatives), may not lead the services
on Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur, unless there is no one else capable of doing so.
(4) He may also lead the Selichos services between Rosh Hashana and Yom