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According to the view that the 13 Divine Attributes ("Hashem, Hashem, Keil Rachum...") are considered a davar shebikedushah and therefore require a minyan for their recital, an individual doesn't recite them if he's praying alone (unless he says them as if reading from the Torah, i.e., with cantillation).

What happens if one is indeed praying as part of a minyan, but is a little behind? (And is there any difference in this regard between the various prayers in which the Attributes are recited - tachanun, selichos, etc.)?

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I added some clarification to my answer –  David Perlman May 27 '11 at 6:18
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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Sefer Ishei Yisrael (the counterpart to Shemirat Shabbat Kehalichata on tefila) on page 273 deals with this issue.

In the main text the instruction is that if one has already started the the vidui   or "El Erech Apayim" it is considered that he has started the yud gimmel midot and can continue as usual.

In the footnote however a machloket achronim is brought down with these three opinions:

  1. Skip to the yud gimmel midot.
  2. Skip to the yud gimmel midot, but then continue from where you left off (this is the opinion of Rav Eliyashiv shlita concerning slichot, I don't know if it is relevant to regular tachanun.)
  3. Continue at your own pace and say the yud gimmel midot without cantillation (even with slichot).

As you can see there is no opinion that you can say the yud gimmel midot without cantillation for merely being at a shul with a minyan.

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From an article by Dayan Raskin, in a footnote by Rav Yosef S. Ginsburg (the Rav of the town of Omer), Footnote 18:

העירוני, שהרבי הקפיד תמיד לומר י"ג מידות בעמידה מבלי להיסמך על איזה דבר. ולכן הצליחו לראות פעמים רבות (וכן נראה בווידיאו) שכאשר הש"ץ מיהר, ובאומרו י"ג מידות עמד הרבי עדיין ב"א-ל מלך", לא אמר הרבי י"ג מידות עם הציבור ממש, אלא אמרם לעצמו כאשר הגיע למקומן. ולכאורה נלמד מזה: א. שאין צריך לאומרן ביחד עם הציבור (וכמ"ש בתהלה לדוד סי' סו ס"ק ז שאין חיוב בדבר, וגם לאגרות משה או"ח ח"ג סי' פט שמצדיק זאת, אינו אלא "מנהג העולם"). ב. שכיוון שיש ציבור האומרן, גם אמירתו קצת לפניהם או לאחריהם נחשבת אמירה בציבור.

My translation

I was told that the [Lubavitcher] Rebbe was always particular to say the 13 Attributes standing, without leaning on anything. Therefore we merited to see many times (and it's on video as well) situations where the Chazan reached the 13 Attributes while the Rebbe was still at "E-l Melech", and the Rebbe did not say the 13 Attributes while the congregation was saying it, but rather said them to himself when he reached that part of the prayer.

We can seemingly learn 2 things from this:

  1. The 13 Attributes do not need to be said with the congregation (As is stated in Tehilla L'David 66:7 - That there is no obligation to do this, and Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 3:89 who justifies this practice and says [that saying it together with the congregation] is only a custom.)

  2. Since there is a congregation that is saying the 13 Attributes, saying them a little before or after the congregation is considered as saying it together with the congregation.

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Thanks! (Rabbi Ginzburg is the rav of the town of Omer, and writes a weekly halachah column for Sichas Hashavua.) –  Alex Nov 1 '11 at 20:37
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