As the month of Elul draws to a close, the mood of repentance becomes more urgent. Prayers for forgiveness called selichos are added to the daily cycle of religious services. Selichos are recited in the early morning, before the daily shacharis service. Selichos adds about 30 minutes to the regular daily service.

The first selichos prior to Rosh Hashana are recited around midnight on Motzaei Shabbos (the night after the sabbath ends; that is, after nightfall on Saturday). A fundamental part of the selichos service is the recitation of the “Thirteen Attributes,” a list of G-d’s thirteen attributes of mercy that were revealed to Moses after the sin of the golden calf (Ex 34:6-7). Selichos can and should be said at home even if one is not attending a minyan. However, the “Thirteen Attributes” should be omitted at home, as they may only be recited in the presence of a minyan.