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Thursday
Sep192019

Can I Say Selichos in English?

A collection of relevant halachos regarding Selichos in connection to the month of Elul, from AskTheRav.com & Halacha2Go.com.

By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Mara D’asra and member of the Crown Heights Beis Din

Selichos and Machzor in English

Q. Being that it is difficult to understand Selichos in its original form, would it be better to read all or part of it in English or in a language which is easier understood? Would there be any difference between fast days and the Selichos before Rosh Hashana?

A. Selichos (both of before Rosh Hashana and of a Taanis) is like any other part of Davening which one should understand what he is saying.

It is preferred that one should learn the meaning of the words of Selichos so he would understand it when he Davens in Loshon Hakodesh.

Alternatively, he can use a Selichos with translation on the side and pause before each paragraph and read with his eyes and then read the paragraph in Loshon Hakodesh after.

On the other hand, if for whatever reason one does not have an understanding of the words of Selichos, he should say the sections that he does not understand in English or any other language that he understands until he learns the meaning of the words, as Davening without Kavana is of little value.

It was the common custom for women who did not understand the words of Selichos to say it in the language that they understand, as when they say it in their own language it brings more concentration and feeling.

But men should say it in Loshon Hakodesh.

Selichos Before Chatzos

Q. There is a local Chabad house in my area where I frequently go to be Chazzan and Baal Koreh. The members enjoy me very much. The Shliach does Selichos (on Motzai Shabbos) prior to Chatzos, and he asked me to be Chazzan. For the sake of Mivtzoim etc. should I do Selichos before Chatzos?

A. Although one should wait until at least Chatzos to say Selichos, in a Shaas Hadchak – which needs to be ascertained locally – it is OK to start from the 10th Halachic hour. One should omit Vidui and Tachanun.

Hataras Nedarim

Q. I  learned that you must understand the text of Hataras Nedarim. If I familiarize myself beforehand with Hataras Nedarim in the language I understand, [but don’t undestand every word of the nusach] can I say it in Lashon Hakodesh?

A. If you familiarize yourself with its concept and its meaning then you can say it in Lashon Hakodesh.

Q. My son is becoming Bar Mitzvah in Aseres Yemei Teshuva. Does he have to do Hataras Nedarim, and if yes, when? Does he need 10 people there or is 3 enough?

A. The Minhag is that boys under Bar Mitzvah do not say Hataras Nedarim, even if they will become Bar Mitzvah within the year. Nonetheless, since his Bar Mitzvah is before Yom Kippur, it is a good idea to do so before Yom Kippur.

According to the strict law, this must be done in the presence of three men. The custom, however, is to do it with a Minyan. If this is difficult, it can be done in the presence of three people, especially in this case.*

Speech during Chazaras Hashatz

Q. On Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur when Chazoras Hashatz is really long, some shluchim tell the Chazzan to read it quietly while they give a speech, and the Chazzan just says the end of the Brachah aloud. It that acceptable?

A. In Chazoras Hashatz of (Shacharis and Mussaf of) Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur there are two parts, the Tefilah and the Piyutim/Selichos.

During the Tefilah, the Chazzan must say it out aloud and the Tzibbur must listen. However, during the Piyutim/Slichos etc. the Tzibbur is supposed to be saying along, and do not listen to the Chazzan (especially since usually the Chazzan says them quietly [regardless]).

During the time of the Tefilah, it is inappropriate to talk, and the Chazzan should Daven in a loud voice. But during the Piyutim, when it is too difficult for the Tzibur to say all of it, (although not preferred) the Rabbi may speak to the Tzibur (about the Piyutim or Tefilah).*

Lemons

Q. Can I use lemon in my food if it’s not strong tasting?

A. One can use lemon if it is mixed with other flavors and its taste is not strong.*

Pecans

Q. Is eating pecans on Rosh Hashanah included in Egozim which aren’t to be eaten?

The Poskim mention not to eat nuts because they increase saliva and disturb our Davening, or because אגוז is the numerical value of חטא. Pecans are considered nuts and they too increase saliva.

Q. Does it make a difference if it’s after Davening so there’s no concern of îøáä ëéçä åðéòä?

Poskim do not distinguish between before or after Davening. Certainly, according to the reason associated with the numerical value there wouldn’t be a difference.

Does it make a difference if they’re mixed in salad and/or coated in something else?

They shouldn’t be eaten in salad or otherwise. There is room for leniency with ground pecans in a cake if they are unnoticeable. *

Vinegar in a Dressing

Q. Can I use a drop of rice vinegar on Rosh Hashana in a recipe, if it’s taste will not be detected? It will be mixed in with other sweet foods and the food itself containing the vinegar will be sweet.

A. It is OK to add some vinegar to a dressing if its taste won’t be detectable. *

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