Matzav Shmooze: My Unconventional Leil Selichos


Dear Matzav Shmooze,

For many Jews, last night was the first night of Selichos, a night where the first stirs of the Yomim Noraim begin to creep into the heart and soul as the Shliach Tzibbur sings the somber Kaddish announcing the arrival of the annual season of repentance.


Which person remains unmoved as the entire shul screams out “Va’Yavor Hashem?” Who doesn’t feel a sudden trepidation and awe as the Aron Kodesh is opened and we cry out to Hashem “Shma Koleinu?”


I will be the first to admit that when a friend dragged me to a Selichos night Kumzitz/Melave Malka I was more than skeptical. I was sure it would be a mockery of this holy  night.. Singing and dancing at Selichos? Who ever heard of such a thing? I was positive that this was just an excuse for people with no sense of the night’s seriousness to have a party.


I was wrong.


Instead of a roomful of spiritually empty people I found a crowd of people vying for hisorerus, ready to begin anew their annual quest for elevation in the month of Elul. When the speaker talked, the room was hushed, everyone leaning in to catch his words. The speaker was spectacular, his impassioned words leaving a mark on all.


During the singing, the intensity in the room was tangible. Jews of all different types joined together in one voice to welcome in the “Melech BaSadeh.” This was no merrymaking party, this was Avodas Hashem.


I, along with all the others who attended the Selichos event, left the night on a spiritual high. I made sure to thank my friend profusely for forcing me to come to this event.


Honestly, I preferred my usual Selichos that I go to every year and will probably return there next year. But had I not attended the event myself I would be one of the people shaking their head at low level our generation has sunk to. Instead I’ve learned that there are many  different ways to serving Hashem and that just because something is different than what I’m used to does not make it less valid.



  1. As the ohr chaim says mitzvos will be rewarded when they obtain the sanction of the chachmei hatorah! See beginning of parshas כי תבוא.

  2. You claim you left “on a spiritual high”. What does that mean? Does this spiritual high have anything to do with teshuva? The main purpose of the Slichos and the days leading up to the Yom Hadin is Teshuva. “Spiritual high’s” don’t last. Real teshuva does.
    As an aside, why are these singing & dancing “spiritual high’s” only on the first night of Slichos? What about all the reat of the days?

  3. For real let everyone just do whatever they want. Let’s all worry about OURSELVES!!!

    Obviously a practice which is not sanctioned by Gedolei Yisroel cannot be the proper way. Meanwhile I don’t think any Gedolim are commenting on the various Internet forums, so let’s work on ourselves.

  4. Thank you for so beautifully expressing exactly what I am feeling. I too went for the first time to a selichos with musical accompaniment. I am going through a difficult time and felt I could benefit from this experience. I too was pleasantly surprised by the spiritual energy in the room which also left me on a high. Although I still prefer my usual selichos, the experience definitely opened my eyes. Bh yiddishkeit has more than one derech and we can tap into what works for us. I’m grateful that this option was available to me when I needed it.

  5. There are other appropriate times for making a melave malka with singing & dancing. Leil slichos is not the right time for it. This is not how klal Yisroel has been doing it throughout history.

  6. Yes it is nice to hear hearing that it was uplifting etc.
    However this is something new for the last few years. Kumzits for Selichos?? C’mon.
    Yeh Yeh I know so many people thinkin “c’mon stop being such a right wing frummi”.
    As far as I know most Rabbonim do NOT endorse any such Selichos. There seems to to be a new phenomenon of people saying that I don’t “feel” anything by going to Selichos. So since u don’t understand and don’t “feel” it, maybe it’s better to try a new version and make a Kumzits out of it. if I remember correctly The Pele Yoetz writes on the letter Zayin/Zohar an amazing thing.
    He says that a person should read Zohar Hakadosh ( he was a Sefardi and I’m assuming this was meant for Sefardim, but the point is incredible regardless of who it’s for), even if he doesn’t understand it at all, and has no clue what it means, Because just like when a little child imitates their parents and for example makes Kiddush on Friday night, just like the Totty, and holds a Kiddush cup, and says words or babbles something, and the parents gets SO SO much Nachas from watching their child imitate them ( Even though the child has know what their doing), so too Hashem has Nachas from people when they say the words of the Zohar Hakadosh- even though the person doesn’t understand what he’s saying.
    Just coming to Shul and saying Selichos- even though you don’t “feel it” or “understand it” is still amazing. And yes it’s still trying and helping you do Teshuva. Now that doesn’t mean that your not allowed to buy a Sefer or a Book to help you understand more and put you in the right perspective. Of course you could and should. But kumzits?? Remember doing a Davening just like out holy ancestors did, is STILL HOLY and STILL helpful , EVEN if you don’t understand what your doing or you don’t ” feel” it like you should.
    That being said, if our Rabbi’s of THIS generation come out and say that this way with music is a proper way, then you Kol Hakovod. Our Rabbi’s our here to guide us. Yes the Rabbi’s of OUR generation are he to gives us Hadracha of what is proper and what is not.

  7. There’s a time and place for every feeling. There’s a time to be nisorerer from dvekus / singing and it could be the most beautiful feeling like you describe. Just dosen’t mean that time and place is during selichos.
    Additionally, playing around with minhag yisroel and making any changes to davening or the way klal yisroel has been doing things for thousands of years is playing with fire. Bringing in music and dancing might just fall into that category…

  8. I feel concerts are not the way to go.
    I do agree however, that some of the shaliach tzibbur’s shlep it out too long and it ruins the flow of the slichos. It’s the same thing for the Yamim Noraim teffilos. I am able to have much better kavana when the tzibbur moves at a normaleh pace. Where did this minhag to shlep each Teffila come from? I daven in a choshiva Shul with Bnei Torah every Shabbos. The Rav is gevaldig. The pace is great. But come Yomim Noraim, it slows down to an intolerable pace. How long can you take to say krias shema? 10-15 minutes is way too long. It makes no sense. It becomes torturous. It breaks the flow and is counterproductive. That’s just one example. The fake krechtzing by our young shaliach tzibbur is also counterproductive. I mean really. You’re a nice guy and all that but lemaaseh your not the Rav. Keep moving along. We’ll krechtz ourselves in our shtiller shemona esrai. I highly doubt Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita’s minyan shleps. Just my hunch. When I learnt in Torah Ohr years ago, Rav Scheinberg ZT”L was extremely makpid on tircha ditzibura. He made sure there was no wasting time during davening. You want to be super frum, do it on your own time, NOT ON THE TZIBBUR’S CHESHBON.

  9. I’m not sure how you can print this article without a name. I’m very glad this Daas Torah thinks that this is an appropriate style of davening but at least we should be told who paskened.

  10. To all those who are kvetching how “this is not the way we do things”. First of all, Sefardim have been doing it for way longer than us ashkenazim have been somber. Secondly, there is precedent in history when certain practices become meaningless we strive to innovate to maintain our connection with yahadus. (Ex. In the times of Ezra, when people didn’t understand Hebrew, Ezra instituted leining in Aramaic [gasp!]. 1500 years later when people no longer understood Aramaic they switched back to Hebrew.

  11. while R’ Zushe of Anipoli and the Shpoler Zaide may have approved
    lf someone has some sort tradition
    for music then nu nu,
    that any of those taking part did.
    Therefore it is little more than inappropriate escapism

    “people will do whatever it is, as long as it takes , as long as it is not what they are supposed to be doing”

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