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Selichot prayer leaf (c. 8th-9th century) discovered in the famous Mogao Caves of Dunhuang, Gansu province, China in 1908 by Paul Pelliot.

Selichot or slichot (Hebrew: סליחות‎) are Jewish penitential poems and prayers, especially those said in the period leading up to the High Holidays, and on Fast Days. God's Thirteen Attributes of Mercy are a central theme throughout these prayers.

Selichot of the High Holidays[edit]

In the Sephardic tradition, recital of Selichot in preparation for the High Holidays begins on the second day of the Hebrew month of Elul. In the Ashkenazic tradition, it begins on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah. If, however, the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Monday or Tuesday, Selichot are said beginning the Saturday night prior to ensure that Selichot are recited at least four times. This may be because originally the pious would fast for ten days during the season of repentance, and four days before Rosh Hashanah were added to compensate for the four of the Ten days of Repentance on which fasting is forbidden - the two days of Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat Shuvah, and the day preceding Yom Kippur - and, while the fasts have since been abandoned, the Selichot that accompanied them have been retained. Alternatively, the Rosh Hashanah liturgy includes the Biblical phrase, “you shall observe a burnt offering”, and like an offering which needs to be scrutinised for defects for four days, so too four days of self-searching are needed before the day of judgment.[1]

Selichot refers to both the poetic piyyutim that compose the service as well as to the service itself. Sephardic Selichot services are identical each day. In the Ashkenazic tradition, although the text and length of specific prayers varies from day to day, the overall format remains the same and is prefaced by Ashrei (Psalm 145) and the Half-Kaddish.

Selichot are usually recited between midnight and dawn. Some recite it at night after the 'Arvit service or in the morning before the Shacharit service due to the convenience of synagogue attendance at these times.

Arguably the most important and certainly most popular night of Selichot in the Ashkenazi tradition is the first night, when many women and girls as well as men and boys attend the late-night service on Saturday night. The hazzan wears a kittel and sings elaborate melodies. In some congregations, it is not unusual for a choir to participate in this first night's service. This night also has more Selichot than any other night prior to Rosh Hashanah eve. The other nights are more sparsely attended and those services are often led by a layperson, rather than a trained musician, and with melodies that are less elaborate than the first night.

Categories of Selichot[edit]

Categories of Selichot in the Ashkenazic tradition may include:

  • Selichah (סליחה) — Hebrew for "forgiveness." This is the default Selichah and comprises the vast majority of the Selichot service.
  • Pizmon (פזמון) — Hebrew for "chorus." These central Selichot vary according to the day and contain a chorus which is repeated after each stanza.
  • Akeidah (עקידה) — Hebrew for "binding", a word which specifically refers to the Binding of Isaac. This Selichah contains the theme of the Akeidah as a merit for God answering our prayers. It begins to appear on Rosh Hashanah eve and is placed immediately before the Pizmon.
  • Chatanu (חטאנו) — Hebrew for "we have sinned." Starting on the evening before Rosh Hashanah and continuing through Yom Kippur, this Selichah is said after the final recitation of the Thirteen Attributes and before the Vidui confessional. It contains as its refrain, "חטאנו צורנו סלח לנו יוצרנו", "We have sinned, our Rock, forgive us, our Creator". Perhaps the most famous Chatanu Selichah is the Eleh Ezkera Martyrology recited during Musaf on Yom Kippur, though the recitation of the aforementioned refrain is not always followed in this particular Chatanu.
  • Techinah (תחינה) — Hebrew for "petition." This Selichah begins to appear on the eve of Rosh Hashanah in the Tachanun section, at the very end of the Selichot service.

Selichot of Fast Days[edit]

On minor fast days (besides the Fast of Gedaliah, whose Selichot are preempted by the Selichot of the High Holidays), some communities recite Selichot after the conclusion of the Shacharit Amidah.[2][3] The content of these prayers is related to the specific fast day. Western Ashkenazic communities insert the recitation of the Selichot of minor fast days in the middle of the blessing for forgiveness (סלח לנו כי חטאנו) in the repetition of the Shacharit Amidah.

Selichot are not recited on the major fast day of Tisha B'Av.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rabbi Raymond Apple. "Soul Searching in the Selichot". oztorah.com. 
  2. ^ Rabbi Naftali Silberberg. "What are "Selichot" and when are they recited?". AskMoses.com. 
  3. ^ ""Selichot", Basic Questions & Answers". ou.org. 

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selichot — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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Sun Sentinel
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:14:41 -0700

To attract more people to its Selichot (pre-High Holy Day) service on Saturday, Sept. 20, B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton hosted a free, community-wide musical service similar to its noted Musical Concert Series events. Senior Cantor Udi ...
 
Arutz Sheva
Wed, 01 Oct 2014 02:00:49 -0700

Thousands of Jews from all walks of life across Israel flocked to the holy city of Hevron Tuesday night, to take part in selichot prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs (Me'arat Hamachpela). Selichot are special prayers of repentance recited by Jews in ...
 
Arutz Sheva
Thu, 02 Oct 2014 20:52:17 -0700

Three people were injured on Thursday night when their vehicle crashed into a tree as they were making their way to Selichot prayers at the Tomb of Rabbi Akiva. A 25-year-old man was seriously injured and was evacuated by helicopter to the Rambam ...
 
Cape Coral Daily Breeze
Thu, 25 Sep 2014 23:22:30 -0700

Last Saturday night, Sept. 20, the congregation of Temple Beth Shalom met for the traditional "Selichot" service. In preparation for the "High Holy Days" of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, special penitent prayers are recited as Jews around the world ...
 
Arutz Sheva
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:54:02 -0700

President Reuven Rivlin participated on Tuesday evening in a Selichot prayer service at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. “Public representatives and elected officials have a great responsibility for their actions. They must be careful in their ...
 
Al-Monitor
Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:53:11 -0700

Selichot is a collection of prayers and liturgical poems that are entreaties for forgiveness and absolution from the Creator for one's sins. It is customary for Jews to recite these repentance prayers from the month of Elul (the last month in the ...

i24news

i24news
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 02:45:28 -0700

On the eve of the Jewish New Year, 450 people got up in the middle of the night and joined the students of the renewed Homesh Yeshiva for the traditional Selichot prayers. Following this event, Minister Uri Ariel said: "I will continue working for the ...
 
TheBlaze.com
Tue, 07 Oct 2014 23:11:15 -0700

Thousands of Jews perform the Selichot prayer at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, backdropped by the Dome of the Rock mosque in the old city of Jerusalem late on September 23, 2014, in the lead up to Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Clashes ...
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