Tuesday, September 2, 2008



The Ashkenazi custom is to begin reciting "Selichot" (prayers for forgiveness) on the Saturday night preceding Rosh haShanah, assuming that the calendar will thus allow for four nights of Selichot before Rosh haShanah. If it does not, then we move the start back one week. This year we start on Saturday night September 20th.

We always use a Saturday night as the starting day simply so that there will be a specific day for this purpose.

There are at least two reasons why we have a minimum of four days of S'lichot:
(a) Those who try to fast 10 days leading up to Yom Kippur always lose the two days of Rosh haShanah, one Shabbat and the day before Yom Kippur, and so they need to make up four days before Rosh haShanah - four days which they gain by fasting on these days of S'lichot.

(b) When there is a Beit haMikdash [Jerusalem Temple], we examine potential offerings for four days before using them. We also present ourselves as offerings to Gd on Rosh haShanah, and so we need four days of examination beforehand.

(Code of Jewish Law Orach Chaim 581:1; Mishneh Berurah 581:6)

Have a great day,

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