May Selichos be recited in English or other language?

May Selichos be recited in English or other language?[1]

When saying Selichos in private: One is to be particular to say Selichos in Lashon Hakodesh if he [is fluent in the language and] understands what he is saying.[2] If, however, he does not understand Lashon Hakodesh, he is to say Selichos in whatever language he understands.[3] [Furthermore, if he can express himself better in his native language than in Lashon Hakodesh he is to do so, as the main thing is that the prayer should come from the bottom of one’s heart.[4] Accordingly, many women were accustomed to recite Selichos in Yiddish.]

When saying Selichos with a Minyan:[5] Whenever one is saying Selichos with a Minyan he may say Selichos in whatever language he understands, even if he also understands Lashon Hakodesh.[6] [Nevertheless, it is best in all cases to say Selichos in Lashon Hakodesh even when one is with the congregation, if he is fluent in the language.[7]]


[1] Admur 101:5

[2] 1st opinion in Admur 101:5 and Michaber 101:4 that one is to be particular to Daven in Lashon Hakodesh; Rif Brachos 2:7; Rabbanei Tzarfat; Yearos Devash Derush 1; Chayeh Adam 24:19; M”B 122:8; Shulchan Hatahor 118 footnote 5 all conclude like this opinions

The reason: One is to always say Daven in Lashon Hakodesh as the angels [Malachei Hashareis] don’t understand other languages, [1st explanation in Admur ibid; Taz 101:4 and M”A 101:6] and a prayer needs the angels to elevate and vouch for his prayer’s acceptance. [Admur ibid; Rif Brachos 2:7]

Other opinions in Admur: Some Poskim rule that the angels understand all languages, even thoughts, other than Aramaic, and therefore one may Daven in any language he desires except for Aramaic. [2nd explanation in Admur ibid; 2nd opinion in Michaber 101:4 as explained in Taz 101:5 and M”A 101:7; Rosh Brachos 2:2; Tosafus Shabbos 12b, brought in Taz ibid]

[3] Admur ibid; M”A 101:5 in name of Asara Mamaros Mamar Eim Kol Chaiy 1:31 and Sefer Chassidim 588 and 788; Chayeh Adama and M”B ibid

The reason: As a prayer without intent is worthless. [Admur ibid]

[4] See Chayeh Adam and M”B ibid; Beis Baruch 22:6; Piskeiy Teshuvos 101:7; This follows the second opinion mentioned in

[5] Admur ibid; Michaber 101:4; Mishneh Sotah 32a

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one may only Daven in another language if there are 10 people Davening in that language. If however the Minyan is Davening in Lashon Hakodesh then an individual may not Daven in another language. [Yifei Laleiv 101:10; Kaf Hachaim 101:18] It is clear from the wording of Admur and Poskim ibid unlike this approach, and so writes Piskeiy Teshuvos 101 footnote 41, and so rules Chasam Sofer O.C. 84 and on Shabbos 12b and Makor Chaim 101:4

[6] The reason: As when Davening together with the congregation one does not need angels to elevate and vouch for one’s prayers as the verse states “Hein Kel Kabir Lo Yimas.” [Admur ibid; Taz 101:4] Meaning, that Hashem Himself accepts their prayer, without the medium of an angel. [M”A 101:6]

[7] Yearos Devash Derush 1; See Chayeh Adam 24:19; M”B 122:8; M”B 101:13; Biur Halacha ibid “Yachol Lihispalel”; Piskeiy Teshuvos 101 footnote 57

The reason: As Lashon Hakodesh has many Segulos, and with it the world was created. The words themselves help effect the blessing. [Biur Halacha ibid; See Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rashab 2:459]

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