Thursday, September 24, 2009

Without Understanding - Selichos

I understand very little of what I am saying with the Selichos that I recite each morning. As I am saying them, one part of me tells me that my time would be better spent if I recited the entire Sefer Tehillim that day instead. Yet, I know that saying Selichos during this time period is what I am supposed to do and that avoda that I am supposed to engage in.

Ultimately, it is not about what "I" want to do, rather what Hashem wants me to do that is important.


At September 24, 2009 at 9:17:00 AM EDT, Blogger Unknown said...

I can hear this.

Although we had a shatz from the kollel lead selichos this morning, whose pronunication is far more accuate that my own, he managed to keep up the phenomenal speed that is required and as barely managed to keep up and at the same time understand 50% perhaps of what I was saying, wondered similar things like just forget the whole selichos and daven shacharis like a mentsch instead with the extra time! Or less radically cut out some selichos if we cant do all of them at breakneck speed. (I wasnt contemplating getting up earlier being as exhausted as I was)

And why of several more things that my Yetzer was bothering me during selichos - why in my nusach is there no artscroll or even decent sefer with a decent peirush?

But more positively there's much more to selichos than the piyutim, the middos harachmaim, shema koleinu, aneinu and other we do understand are certainly a making roshem in the upper worlds which we should be zoche to see!

At September 24, 2009 at 10:07:00 AM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

I, too, hear this.
I have chosen for the second year in a role to attend Selichos at night, so that I will have more time to say them in Hebrew and then read the English. Alas, it is keeping me up later than usual, but I don't feel the pressure to finshing up quickly or shorten either my davening in the morning or Selichos.

I'm very fortunate that I'm in a communnity where I have an option.

At September 24, 2009 at 10:48:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Neil, at what time (Chicago time) does this group say selichos at night?

At September 24, 2009 at 11:58:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Ephraim Portnoy said...

There's of course the Emunah Peshutah that even just saying the words of Selichos have an effect, and Hashem takes much nachas from it.
In some ways, could be we are like the Baal Shem Tov's shepherds who came into shul during the yomim noraim and just recited aleph-beis.
Let's all remember, of course we should try our best, but rachmana liba bai.

At September 24, 2009 at 11:59:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Ephraim: This is 100% why I continue to keep saying them.

At September 25, 2009 at 6:00:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I as well have been doing Selichos for this time. But it is hard for me to understand them. Maybe they are not meant to be understood by anybody but to even say them in English, I feel, is better then saying them in Hebrew even if you understand Hebrew. If English is your first language then say them in English. HaShem understands all languages. Just keep in mind if this is what HaShem wants, because it probably is or we would not be saying them at all, then have complete faith, Emuna.

At September 25, 2009 at 6:14:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Litvak said...

Hashem wants you to say the selichos and understand them. He doesn't need people mumbling and racing through things they don't understand. Hashem wants the heart. If you are mumbling and racing, your heart is likely to wander and/or resent the whole thing.

In the beginning of Shulchan Oruch Orach Chaim, we are taught that a small amount with kavvonoh (proper understanding/intent) is better than much without kavvonoh.

I know a prominent Yeshiva in Brooklyn where they say an abbreviated version of selichos. We want quality, not a large quantity of mumbled lip service.

At September 26, 2009 at 6:17:00 PM EDT, Blogger TZ said...

I remember when I first started saying Selichos feeling the same way, I am lucky in that I speak Hebrew fluently so over time (It took almost a decade) I have reached the level where I understand 80-90% of the beautiful poetry in the selichos. I dream of the day when I hope Hashem will deem me worthy to publish an English translation of Selichos and Yoztros with chassidic insights, its on my long list of projects...I think its needed very badly. Or if someone else will do it...Halevai!

At September 29, 2009 at 12:17:00 PM EDT, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for your comments.

I think next year I will either work on looking through them the day before (although I really cant imagine right now how I'm going to priortise that over hisdodedus and learning which I generally have far too little time for)

The Nusach I use - Hungar - shares most selcihos with Litte, so I will no doubt have a look at the Artscroll.

The truth is when I did my original post on a Thursday which for some reason (liek Mondays) my shul starts the same time as non krias hatorah days , so to finish "on time" the shatz has to put the foot on the pedal even more than normal to make up another 10 minutes!

But now I have been reminded I will have a word with our gabbai to see if we can improve this next year

(although it does seem to me that most mispalleim in my shul seem prepared to finish each selicha half way through before jumping to "keil melech yoishev al kisei rachamim")

At September 29, 2009 at 12:33:00 PM EDT, Blogger redsneakz said...

I heard a story that the yetzer hara can be "holy" also - when you're supposed to be concentrating on your avodah, for example, your yetzer hara asks you to learn some Chasidus, or say some tehillim.

I still have a great deal of growing up to do, myself.

At October 7, 2009 at 5:52:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Deborah Shaya said...

1. It is Hashem, the King of the World, who directly provides for all of our needs. And it is to Hashem, that we pray, for our livelihood and sustenance and health. Whatever we receive in life - materially and spiritually - is given to us by Hashem.

The Malachim are the creations of Hashem.

We are not allowed to pray to ANY Malachim.

When Moshe Rabeinu prayed, he prayed to Hashem. He did not pray to any Malachim or any celestial beings. These are all the creations of Hashem.

With regard to the Selichot, and the Neilah prayer for Yom Kippur in the Ashkenazi tradition - they include direct Tefillot and requests to Malachim. Prayers to Malachim are completely forbidden, assur, and cause very great damage and harm. I emphasise that this is something very grave which needs to be rectified - speedily.

The Selichot and the Neilah Tefillah for Yom Kippur should be amended speedily, to remove all prayers and requests to Malachim.

2.There should be NO MEDIATOR between a person's tefillot and Hashem. Mediation in any form is assur and completely forbidden.

If people want to pray to anyone else, and make requests of any being other than Hakadosh Baruch Hu, they might as well join Christianity.

We pray to Hashem – at all times. If a person is insisting on praying to one of the creations of Hashem, instead of directly to the King Himself, Hashem will say to us, "You are meant to pray to ME!"

Remember that Hashem, our G-d, is a very "JEALOUS G-D" who demands "EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP." (2nd Commandment of the Asseret Hadibrot.)

Our very own tefillot, directly to Hashem are much more precious than anything else. Hashem likes to hear the prayers, tefillot, from our own mouths. Even if all we know is how to recite the first 3 letters of the Aleph Bet: Aleph, Bet, Gimmel....

At October 8, 2009 at 6:56:00 AM EDT, Anonymous TZ said...

First of all no one should make a decision solely based on an internet posting, ask your Rabbi that deals with issues of hashkafah. Second, these piutim, poems and liturgy are very ancient and recited by most Kehillos, in my tradition we do recite them and there are many poskim who rule that we can and should recite them. Yes there is an opinion that one should not recite them, but that question should be based on one's own Rebbe's advice and psak. Since many gedolim throughout the ages recited this. In fact there are many other times we ask of the Malachim such as the stanza in Shalom Aleichem that we recite friday night before Kiddush. In Chassidus we believe that the Tzadik is our intermediary and this is a Jewish belief found in many sources before Chassidus as well.
Bottom line ask your Rabbi and follow your tradition.


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