The minhag I've seen in Ashkenazi synagogues is to say L’Dovid (Tehillim 27) morning and evening, from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Shemini Atzeres. The earliest source I can find for this is the Mishnah Berurah (581:2), which isn’t particularly that early of a source. Further, he doesn’t give a reason for this minhag.

What is the Mishnah Berurah’s source? What is the earliest source that discusses this minhag? What is the reason (reasons?) for it?

  • 1
    he.wikisource.org/wiki/מטה_אפרים_אורח_חיים_תקפא 581:6 puts it back about 75 years to 1834. This isn't a particularly time honored Minhag. There's some kabbalistic stuff a bit earlier than that but I don't pretend to understand it. In particular one of the earliest sources is the notorious judaism.stackexchange.com/a/86707/759
    – Double AA
    Aug 15, 2018 at 0:18
  • 2
    The Shelah's Siddur in 1717 known for its extra kabbalistic petitions bit.ly/2P6FXi2 doesn't have it. Here's R Yaakov Emden's Siddurin 1745 without it bit.ly/2vGV7T0 and then here's the 1880 reprint where the printer stuck it in bit.ly/2MMNEIJ . Siddur Vayetar Yitzchak 1785 without it bit.ly/2Md9wkp The Vilna Gaon (d. 1797) actively opposed saying it. The famous "Yekke" Roddelheim "Safah Berurah" in 1832 omits it bit.ly/2MMRy4x . The famous Derekh HaChayim Siddur in 1840 finally includes it bit.ly/2MpI2Y8 This "Minhag" is barely 200 years old!
    – Double AA
    Aug 15, 2018 at 0:50
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    @DoubleAA Partial answer?
    – DonielF
    Aug 15, 2018 at 1:08
  • I don't see how it answers any of your three questions. It just provides context for people who think this is a central part of the traditional Yamim Noraim experience, instead of just another late Segulah that somehow caught on recently. Honestly, you'd probably be much better off catching up on Korbanot or Pesukei Dizimra during that time. If you manage to say Korbanot fully every day then maybe you're at a level to care about advanced tricks like this. Perhaps your grandfather said this in Elul, but his grandfather probably didn't.
    – Double AA
    Aug 15, 2018 at 1:11
  • 1
    @DoubleAA It answers the second question
    – DonielF
    Aug 15, 2018 at 1:12

4 Answers 4


This article quotes:

...the Siddur Alyiyat Eliyahu and the Machzor by the same editor, Mikrai Kodesh, in both these siddurim the editor offers the following as the source for l'Dovid: "Sha'arei Tefilah which attributes this custom to R. Hayyim Kohen, a student of the AriZa"L, Shem Tov Koton."

As to why it is connected see this article which suggests:

The Mateh Ephraim (19th century, which predates the Mishna Brura) instructs one to follow this custom and the Elef L’mateh, commenting on the Mateh Ephraim, provides an explanation for the relationship of this psalm to this period of time which is based upon the Midrash Shocher Tov, a Midrash on Tehilim. The explanation provided is that ori refers to Rosh Hashana and yish’i refers to Yom Kippur, therefore it is appropriate to recite it during this period. There is also a further allusion in the psalm to Succos and therefore the Mateh Ephraim adds that it is his custom to recite this psalm until Shemini Atzeres (however the allusion to Succos is not found in the midrash).

  • Thanks! Can you include dates for the various sources in the first block quote?
    – DonielF
    Aug 15, 2018 at 1:10
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    @DonielF you really have to read the article inside. That quote is not representative of the author's conclusion and is pretty outright misleading. He actually shows why that quote from a late 19th century siddur is mistaken and the manuscript of R H Kohen's writings includes no mention of Ledavid, while the Shem Tov Kattan actually says to say Ledavid on Mondays and Thursdays after Shmoneh Esrei, not morning and evening like you've seen
    – Double AA
    Aug 15, 2018 at 2:37
  • Why is it said during all of Ellul?
    – DanF
    Aug 15, 2018 at 14:14
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    @DanF For those who I’ve heard quote this line of reasoning they say that the same way the three Yamim Tovim are alluded to in the passage, they shoehorn Elul into the end, where it says לולא האמנתי, where לולא is אלול backwards. So basically this is a minhag that doesn’t go back so far and has a really flimsy reason behind it.
    – DonielF
    Aug 15, 2018 at 19:59
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    @DoubleAA A comment to the original article at the Seforim Blog points out that the author of the article was wrong - the previous page in Shem Tov Katan indeed says to say it every day.
    – Meir
    Sep 3, 2019 at 16:07

Likkutei Mahariach vol III quotes from Siddur R. Shabtai (R. Shabtai of Rașcov) that this psalm contains allusions to the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, as evidenced by the thirteen mentions of the Tetragrammaton which it contains. It is thus appropriate for this time of year.

(According to Wikipedia this siddur existed in manuscript and was used as a source for a siddur published in Korets in 1794. R. Shabtai is reported to have passed away in 1745, although there is some debate in the matter.)


The Chida, in his Kuntress Sansan LeYair (perek 3:36; at the end).

יאמר מזמור לדוד ה׳ אורי וישעי כלו אחר כל תפלה מהשמ״ע מר״ח אלול עד מוצאי יוה״כ וכן בהושענא רבא וכן הוא מנהג בעה״ק חברון שהש״ץ אומר אותו אחר עלינו לשבח וכו׳ בקול רם ומה טוב לאומרו כל השנה אחר שמ״ע ולפחות כל יום האומרו בכונה אחר תפלת שחרית ימצא חיים

He cites the minhag of reciting L’Dovid after every prayer from Rosh Chodesh Elul till Motzei Yom Kippur and also on Hoshana Rabbah, and that it would be best to say it all year, at least after Shacharis.


https://www.yutorah.org/lectures/736949/Reciting-L'Dovid-Hashem-Ori,-A-Secret-History Best source I have ever seen as to why it is said

  • Please summarize it just in case the link stops working…
    – Shmuel
    Aug 21, 2023 at 15:07

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