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Is talking allowed during Selichos? Of course, I'd assume it's a very serious moment and people should just joke around, but what if someone had to tell his friend something?

I really have 2 questions; Can you talk during the Selichos that start in Elul and go until Erev Yom Kippur?

Can you talk during the Selichos on fast days?

  • Just throwing it out there, the Rambam holds one's not allowed to talk in a Beis Midrash/Beis Knesses even when davening and learning are not in session. (To be fair, the Aruch HaShulchan says most of our Shuls are built on condition people can talk on them, but he still agrees me'ikar hadin.) – DonielF Aug 28 '16 at 12:53
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Part one: First of all, if you were focusing on what you're saying, the question wouldn't even start regarding Selichos of Elul. You're praying for your life "like a slave pleads to his master." Would you really be talking to your friend in the middle of an impassioned plea to live another year, when your very life hangs in the balance?

Part two: As for Selichos of fast days: note that, unlike those of Elul, these are said between Shemoneh Esrei and Tachanun. The Gemara (Bava Metzia 59b) records a story that shows the power of not interrupting between these tefillos. In combining that with the pain he felt deep down from being excommunicated by Rabban Gamliel (long story), R' Elazar ultimately ended up killing the Nasi with his tefillos, albeit unintentionally. Recognizing these two powers, R' Elazar's wife (R' Gamliel's sister) kept distracting him between the two tefillos in order to prevent this from happening, but one time she slipped up, and R' Gamliel died as a result.

From here we see the power of not interrupting between Shemoneh Esrei and Tachanun. Selichos are of the same theme as Tachanun and thus aren't really an interruption (similar to saying Kaddish before Shemoneh Esrei of Maariv), but talking during that time certainly would be.

  • I note that in neither part of this answer I have a hard source, or even a logical deduction, that one can't talk during Selichos, nor do I know of a source that says one way or another. But this should tell you that it's certainly not a good idea If you don't know the answer to the question, but feel that you nevertheless have valuable info to contribute, consider commenting. – mevaqesh Aug 28 '16 at 14:12
  • What Gemara is the story of Rabbi Elazar and his wife from? You just said 59b... – M. Broder Aug 28 '16 at 14:23
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    @M.Broder Whoops. Added that in. Thanks for catching that. – DonielF Aug 28 '16 at 15:07

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