In the 2005/5765 Kehot edition of סליחות על־פי מנהג חב״ד/Slichos appears part of a letter by the last Lubavitcher rebbe with no date on it. It reads, in part:

לא שמעתי הוראה בסדר סליחות ליום זה (וכן — אם לאמרם באשמורת הבוקר, או בתפלה בסדר התחנון)‏

In my own translation:

I haven't heard any direction about the order of s'lichos for today (Tzom G'dalya) (nor, indeed, whether to say them in the wee hours of the morning or during tachanun during the prayer service).

How does it happen that in two-hundred-odd years of Lubavitch custom there is no established custom regarding whether to say s'lichos in the early morning or during shacharis? Did the rebbe not see what his father-in-law (the previous rebbe) did? Is there no record of what the previous rebbes did? of what the community of chasidim did? How can this be?

1 Answer 1


As explained in אוצר מנהגי חב"ד, the practice in the main Shul in Lubavitch where the Rabbeim davened was not indicative of the official Chabad practice, but rather represented what the crowd chose to do. So whatever the practice was was not indicative of the actual position of the Rabbeim (i.e. what they would do in private). Often the Rabbeim would daven on weekdays in private, only coming out for Krias HaTorah or other special occasions, so there would be no clear public practice directly from them.

In 5711 (1951) when the question came up after the passing of the Previous Rebbe, the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that he didn't hear a clear directive of when to say the Slichos (before Shacharis like during Elul, or after Shacharis like on a fast day), so he left both possibilities open in his directive about how to say the Slichos. However, he himself said the Slichos as part of Shacharis, and thus that became the established Chabad practice.

In fact, as explained in the Otzer, the official Chabad practice as established by the Alter Rebbe is to never say Slichos or Avinu Malkeinu on the other fast days, but the most recent Lubavitcher Rebbe did so, so that has become the Chabad practice.

The siddurim retain the ambiguity of the original statement from 5711.

  • The question I have is, based on the above, why it was clear to the Rebbe in 5711 that the Chabad Minhag is to say Slichos at all on Tzom Gedaliah.
    – Yishai
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 13:35
  • If the chabad custom became to say slichot on all fast days, that would include Tzom gedalia. The rest if the world says slichot on Tzom gedalia, but as part of the slichot said during the whole asseret yemai teshuva. (Ie before shacharit). Chabad does not say selichot during asseret yemei teshuva. Now the Rebbe wants to know, if the slichot that we say on Tzom gedalia Is only fast day related, or asseret yemei teshuvah related
    – Menachem
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 16:40
  • @Menachem, but when did it become? If the Rebbe Rashab wasn't saying them, when did it become at all? (Although perhaps that letter from the Rebbe Rashab wasn't known in 5711).
    – Yishai
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 16:50

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