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Why does the chazzan for slichot a week before rosh hashana wear a talis? Isn't it clearly night time?

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In many communities, this is not the only time a shatz (leader) wears a talis at night. IME, in some, he does so every maariv; in others, for maariv certain nights (Friday nights, or Friday nights and motzae Shabasos). –  msh210 Sep 25 '11 at 5:10
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I may be mistaken but I thought that mariv could sometimes be said early. and on Friday nights, the chazzan may already be wearing a talis because he may have also been chazzan for Mincha. Regardless if this is the only time chazzans wore a a talis at night, why is it done? Is it just traditional? –  wizlog Sep 25 '11 at 5:20

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I think the source of this minhag is in the Talmud (TB Rosh Hashana 17b):

ויעבור ה' על פניו ויקרא א"ר יוחנן אלמלא מקרא כתוב אי אפשר לאומרו מלמד שנתעטף הקב"ה כשליח צבור והראה לו למשה סדר תפלה אמר לו כל זמן שישראל חוטאין יעשו לפני כסדר הזה ואני מוחל להם

(Roughly: "Hashem passed before him, and He called" (Shmot 34:6): Said R' Yochanan: if this scripture were not written, it would be forbidden to say it. It teaches that the Holy one, blessed be He, wrapped himself up as a prayer leader, and showed Moshe the order of the prayer. He said to him, whenever Israel sins, they should do this order before Me, and I will forgive them.)

In short, when the 13 attributes are invoked, the chazzan should wear a tallis. Matteh Efrayim 581:14 mentions the minhag, but doesn't give a source.

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