1(a) Elul:

On the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul one begins the daily reading of לדוד ה' אורי (Siddur, p. 81). [The reading continues every day, through Hoshana Rabbah. At Shacharis it is added after Shir shel Yom (the daily Psalm), before the Mourner’s Kaddish, and at Minchah it is inserted immediately before Aleinu.]

During the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul the Shofar is sounded for practice; the regular sounding of the Shofar after the [morning] prayers begins from the second day of Rosh Chodesh [and continues on all weekdays until the day before erev Rosh HaShanah].

The order of these blasts of the Shofar during Elul is 'תשר"ת, תש"ת, תר"ת — i.e., tekiah-shevarim-teruah-tekiah; tekiah-shevarim-tekiah; tekiah-teruah-tekiah.

When [the first day of] Rosh Chodesh Elul falls on Shabbos [Parshas Re’eh], the Haftorah read is the passage2 beginning כה אמר ה' השמים כסאי [i.e., Yeshayahu ch. 66, as for any Rosh Chodesh that falls on a Shabbos, and the regular Haftorah of Parshas Re’eh is thus displaced]. Then, on Shabbos Parshas Ki Seitzei, the regular Haftorah [רני עקרה, i.e., Yeshayahu 54:1-10] is followed by the Haftorah [of Parshas Re’eh: i.e., Yeshayahu 54:11-55:5, which begins] עני' סוערה.

When [the first day of] Rosh Chodesh Elul falls on Sunday [and Parshas Re’eh is thus read on erev Rosh Chodesh]: (a) one reads [its regular Haftorah, viz.,] עני' סוערה, and (b) adds the first and last verse of the Haftorah of מחר חדש [i.e., I Shmuel 20:18 and 20:42].

In the course of each day from the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul until [erev] Yom Kippur, one reads [in addition to the regular daily reading] three consecutive chapters of Tehillim,3 as follows: On the first of Elul, chs. 1-3; on the second of Elul, chs. 4-6; and so on. On Yom Kippur one reads [4 x 9 =] 36 chapters, viz., chs. 115-123 before Kol Nidrei; chs. 124-132 before retiring to bed; chs. 133-141 after Mussaf; and chs. 142-150 after Neilah [before Maariv].4

(b) Selichos:

The Selichos of the first day is begun soon after midnight [on Motzaei Shabbos],5 and on the other days at dawn.

For the order of Selichos, see subheading (e) in the above section (p. 103) on the Month of Elul.

In the passage beginning א-ל מלך יושב, the wording is ומתנהג בחסידות.6

In the course of the Selichos of any particular day, the confession that begins with the words אשמנו בגדנו is said only once.7

At Selichos one does not rest one’s forehead on the forearm (Nefilas Apayim).8

On the Shabbos before Rosh HaShanah, as on any other Shabbos before a Rosh Chodesh (i.e., Shabbos Mevarchim), the entire Book of Tehillim is recited before Shacharis.9 This is followed by the Mourner’s Kaddish. If one of those present is required to say Kaddish because he is observing a yahrzeit or is a mourner, he recites Kaddish at the conclusion of each of the Five Books of Tehillim.10

(c) Erev Rosh HaShanah:11

The annulment of vows (hataras nedarim) is performed on erev Rosh HaShanah [before midday], [preferably] in the presence of a quorum of ten.12

The annulment comprises four paragraphs, which begin as follows: שמעו נא רבותי, הכל יהיו מותרים לך, הרי אני מוסר מודעה, כולם יהיו מותרים לך.13 Seder Nezifah (“the formal reprimand”) is not practiced.

On erev Rosh HaShanah every [chassid present] hands a pidyon nefesh [often abbreviated to pidyon or to פ"נ], for himself and for his family, to the Rebbe Shlita, who thereupon offers each individual his blessing of Kesivah vachasimah tovah — that he be inscribed and sealed for a good year. (Those who are distant endeavor to send their pidyon nefesh in time to reach the Rebbe before Rosh HaShanah.)

Chassidim hand the Rebbe Shlita a pidyon nefesh for himself and his household, and for the entire House of Israel; this is known as the pidyon haklali (“the general pidyon nefesh”). When he receives it, it is the custom of the Rebbe Shlita to bless all our Jewish brethren wherever they may be with a Kesivah vachasimah tovah, and with the blessing of LeShanah tovah umesukah — “a good and sweet year.”

Those who are near enough to do so are accustomed to visit the holy resting place of the Previous Rebbe, [and to read there the supplicatory prayers assembled in the booklet entitled Maaneh Lashon].14

“Every year, before Rosh HaShanah, it was the custom of my revered father [the Rebbe Rashab] to undertake a new hiddur, [embellishing the performance of a particular mitzvah with an added touch of finesse].”15

(d) Rosh HaShanah:

The blessings for candle-lighting on the eve of Rosh HaShanah conclude with the following words: (a) להדליק נר של יום הזכרון; (b) שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה.16

“Throughout both days of Rosh HaShanah, from an hour before Minchah on the eve of Rosh HaShanah until Maariv at its conclusion, every one of you, the students [of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah] — and this of course also applies to everyone — should be diligent in the reading of Tehillim night and day, for during these two days one ought to vigilantly abstain from secular conversation to the utmost. One ought to sleep less than usual, intensify one’s devotion in prayer and supplication from the depths of one’s heart, and recite Tehillim at every available moment.

“Whilst I am speaking I would like to point out that people who do smoke throughout the year, including on the festivals, abstain from doing so on Rosh HaShanah. It would be proper for Torah scholars to adhere to this restriction and to influence their acquaintances likewise.”17

Before Maariv one reads Tehillim.

The congregant who leads the service at Maariv and Minchah does not wear a tallis.18

The white gown known in Yiddish as a kittel is worn only on Yom Kippur.

Throughout the Ten Days of Penitence, the word לעילא is not repeated in Kaddish except at Neilah.

[After Shemoneh Esreh at Maariv on Rosh HaShanah,] Psalm 24 (beginning לדוד מזמור...הארץ ומלואה) is said before Kaddish Tiskabel; likewise [at Maariv] on the eve of Yom Kippur.

The verbs in the greeting of לשנה טובה (“May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!”) are always in the singular — תכתב ותחתם.

When [the first night of] Rosh HaShanah falls on Friday evening, the following passages are read in an undertone: שלום עליכם, אשת חיל, מזמור לדוד ה' רועי, דא היא סעודתא.

On the first night of Rosh HaShanah the apple is eaten at the beginning of the meal.19 On the second night the new fruit should be eaten [immediately after Kiddush and] before the washing of hands for the meal.

The brief prayer beginning יהי רצון is said after the blessing over the apple and before it is eaten.20

One eats pomegranate and a ram’s head, but no יהי רצון is said over these.

With regard to the blessing of בורא פרי העץ which is said over the apple dipped in honey on the first night, there is a difference of opinion as to whether this blessing includes fruit eaten at the end of the meal as dessert. When reciting this first blessing, therefore, the Previous Rebbe would make a point of not intending to include the latter fruit, and would then recite a separate blessing over it.21

My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, would instruct the baal toke’a to study — [before Shacharis] on both mornings of Rosh HaShanah — the maamar which begins להבין ענין תקיאת שופר (and which appears in the Siddur im Dach, p. 488).22

When the Sefer Torah is taken out for the public reading, the passage that enumerates the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (and that begins ה' ה') is recited even when [the first day of] Rosh HaShanah falls on Shabbos. The same applies when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos.23

[The person who, in order to avert confusion, shows the baal toke’a step by step which blasts of the Shofar are to be sounded is called the מקריא, lit., “the one who calls (the names of the various notes).” Nevertheless, according to our custom,] the makri does not utter a word, instead merely pointing one by one to the names of the notes as listed in the Siddur.24

The person who intones the verses which are read before the sounding of the Shofar also intones the three verses that are said thereafter. The congregation then begins אשרי יושבי ביתך in unison.25

When it comes to prostrating oneself [during the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh of Mussaf],26 our halachic tradition does not require that a sheet or the like be spread on a wooden floor.

With regard to a floor of stone or of similar material, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, end of sec. 131.

After Mussaf and the daily reading of Tehillim, thirty notes of the Shofar (ל' קולות) are sounded.27

In the daytime Kiddush on both days of Rosh HaShanah, [the blessing over the wine is preceded by] the following two verses: תקעו גו' and כי חוק גו'. The following readings are not said: אלה מועדי גו' and אתקינו כו'.28

After Tashlich one shakes the hem of one’s tallis katan.29

On the second day of Rosh HaShanah, the hymn that begins לא-ל אורך דין is said at Mussaf.30

Before nightfall on the second day of Rosh HaShanah, it is the custom of the Rebbe Shlita to wash his hands for a meal, in the course of which he delivers a maamar. This is followed by the Grace After Meals, Maariv, Havdalah, and the distribution of wine to all those present from kos shel berachah, the cup over which the blessings of the Grace were recited. When Shabbos follows immediately after Rosh HaShanah, the wine is distributed instead after Kiddush the following day, in order to avoid delaying the congregants on the eve of Shabbos.31

When the second day of Rosh HaShanah falls on the eve of Shabbos (and this applies to every festival), and the meal (or farbrengen) which had begun during daytime extends into the night of Shabbos, a cloth is spread over the challos and Kiddush is recited. However, there is no need to say the blessing that concludes with the words בורא פרי הגפן if one had said it earlier in the meal.32

“My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, once related the following: ‘On the second day of Rosh HaShanah, my father (the Rebbe Rashab) would continue delivering his maamar until it was night. The reason: He wanted to draw down into the material and workaday world all [the influx of spiritual light] that had been brought down during the forty-eight hours of Rosh HaShanah — so that the light of Chassidus should illuminate the world in all its aspects, and be perceptible within it.’

“And I for my part would like to suggest that each and every individual should do likewise, fusing the hours of Rosh HaShanah with the following weekday hours33 through the study of Chassidus. Then, by virtue of — and through — the path that our Rebbeim have paved for us,34 the light of Chassidus will be drawn down for us, too, all the way down into the most material of our activities.”35

When the conclusion of Rosh HaShanah falls on the eve of Shabbos, the evening service begins with מזמור לדוד instead of לכו נרננה. The same applies to any festival whose conclusion coincides with the inauguration of Shabbos [and likewise to any festival or Chol HaMoed that coincides with the eve of Shabbos].36

Appendix to (d) Rosh HaShanah:

Chaf-tes Elul is the birthday of [the third of the Rebbeim of Chabad], Rabbi Menachem Mendel, known as the Tzemach Tzedek. He was born on erev Rosh HaShanah, the twenty-ninth of Elul, in 5549 (תקמ"ט; 1789).37

The Rebbe Shlita reads Tehillim extensively during both days (and nights) of Rosh HaShanah.

Throughout these days the Rebbe Shlita speaks exceedingly little (except, of course, for divrei Torah and the like).

The maamar which he delivers on the second day “extends into the night after Yom-Tov.”38

(e) The Ten Days of Penitence:

During the Ten Days of Penitence (Aseres Yemei Teshuvah), Selichos are said only on the Fast of Gedaliah.39

On the eve of Shabbos Teshuvah [or: Shabbos Shuvah], which is the Shabbos before Yom Kippur, it is customary in the Rebbe’s household to kindle [a twenty-four-hour candle which is known as] a teshuvah light,” and on the eve of Yom Kippur to kindle a “living light” in addition to the memorial light [known as a ner neshamah].40

The Haftorah reading for Shabbos Shuvah is Hoshea 14:2-10 (from שובה ישראל until יכלו בם) followed by Yoel 7:18-20 (from מי א-ל כמוך until מימי קדם).

(f) Erev Yom Kippur:

In [the expiation ceremony known as] kapparos,41 one reads the passage from בני אדם until ולשלום three times, each time circling the chicken [above one’s head] three times, [as one says זה חליפתי, זה תמורתי, זה כפרתי] for a total of nine rotations.

On the [morning of the] eve of Yom Kippur each person asks another for a piece of lekach [Yiddish for ‘cake’, traditionally honey cake], and eats it.

On erev Yom Kippur it is the custom of the Rebbe Shlita to hand a slice of lekach to each of the people [who file past the door of his study], and to bless each individual with the words, לשנה טובה ומתוקה (“a good and sweet year”). At this time the Rebbe Shlita wears his Shabbos silk coat and a gartl.42

[The nominal flogging called malkos43 precedes both immersion in the mikveh and Minchah.] Accompanying the thirty-nine stripes of malkos on erev Yom Kippur, the verse44 beginning והוא רחום is said three times by both the one administering the lashes and the one receiving them.

It is customary on erev Yom Kippur to eat krepchen [or: kreplach; Yiddish name for a kind of cooked pastry pocket filled with ground chicken].45

After Minchah on the eve of Yom Kippur the Rebbe Shlita blesses all the Jewish people wherever they are with the blessing of חתימה וגמר חתימה טובה (“May your inscription for a good year be sealed and confirmed”), and with a blessing that Jews around the world be aroused in true penitence.445

After the seudah mafsekes, the last meal before the fast, one blesses one’s sons and daughters.

Before Kol Nidrei the Rebbe Shlita gives his blessing to the current students of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah in the words of Bamidbar 6:22-27: וידבר ... יברכך ... אברכם.445

(g) Yom Kippur:

A bridegroom who wore a kittel at his wedding does not wear one on the first Yom Kippur thereafter.46

Before Kol Nidrei one reads nine chapters of Tehillim (chs. 115-123).47

On the additional readings of [four brackets of nine chapters of] Tehillim, see the final paragraph of the above section48 headed (a) Elul.

The evening service of Yom Kippur begins with Tehillim ch. 97: ה' מלך תגל גו'. Verse 11 (beginning אור זרוע) is said once, aloud.49

The statement beginning על דעת המקום is said three times, in an undertone.452

When Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbos, the Prayer for Welcoming the Shabbos (Kabbalas Shabbos) opens with Tehillim ch. 2950 (which begins מזמור לדוד), as on any Yom-Tov that coincides with Shabbos.

Kerias Shema, the prayer before retiring at night, follows the same order as on Shabbos and Yom-Tov.51

Before retiring at night one reads nine chapters of Tehillim (chs. 124-132).52

At netilas yadayim in the morning, one pours water only over the fingers.53

The passage54 beginning אבינו מלכנו זכור רחמיך is said at each of the [four] daytime prayer services of Yom Kippur, and not only at Mussaf.

During the first year of bereavement mourners do not leave the shul while the congregation says Yizkor, [the Prayer for the Souls of the Departed,]55 though they should not say it. (This applies likewise to other occasions when Yizkor is said.)

The daily reading of Tehillim56 follows Mussaf.

This reading is followed by the nine additional chapters, chs. 133-141.57

Between Mussaf and Minchah there should be an interval of at least three-quarters of an hour, if possible.

At Minchah, the Haftorah58 [which begins with the Book of Yonah] concludes with Michah 7:18-20 (from מי א-ל כמוך until מימי קדם). Minchah closes with Tehillim ch. 27 (which begins לדוד ה' אורי).59

At Neilah, the Ark is opened at אשרי60 and remains open until the conclusion of Neilah. In the Kaddish61 one says לעילא ולעילא מכל ברכתא.

The sentence beginning היום יפנה62 is said even after dark.

The Priestly Blessing is not said at Neilah even before sunset.

Before the chazzan intones the sentence beginning תתקבל in the closing Kaddish of Neilah,63 the entire congregation sings the [triumphant marching song known as Napoleon’s] March.64 This is followed by a blast of the Shofar.

Neilah closes with [the bracket of passages which include] אין כאלקינו,466 followed by [the two paragraphs which begin with] עלינו.

After Neilah [the final] nine chapters of Tehillim are read (chs. 142-150).65

One says Maariv and Havdalah while still wearing the kittel and tallis, but also with a hat (and not only a yarmulka), and with the tallis draped over the shoulders.66

Before Havdalah one pours water over each hand three times alternately, as at netilasyadayim [on a regular] morning, but without reciting the blessing.

After Havdalah one reads Kiddush Levanah from a Siddur [or Machzor], while wearing a gartl.67

The blessing that concludes שעשה לי כל צרכי is not recited until the next morning.68

The greeting used at night, after the conclusion of Yom Kippur, is Gut Yom-Tov (“A happy festival to you!”).

That same night one does something about — or at least talks about — building a sukkah.

The day after Yom Kippur is called בשם השם (“G‑d’s Name”).69