On Motzei Shabbos we start saying selichos. Part of the selichos is the י”ג מדות which must be said together בציבור. The ציץ אליעזר rules that when one is in a place with many minyanim and he hears another minyan saying the י”ג מדות, he does not have to say it together with them.
Reb Moshe Feinstein zt”l (או”ח ח”ג סימן פ”ט)discusses about one who already recited selichos and he is in shul learning. Should he interrupt his learning to say the י”ג מדות? At first he says he doesn’t see why there should be an obligation to do so. There are two times when there is an obligation to say something together with the tzibbur – קדושה and קריאת שמע. The reason for both is, how can one separate himself from the tzibbur at a time when they are being מקדש שם שמים and accepting upon themselves עול מלכות שמים? Another reason that applies to קדושה is that there is no limit how many times a person can be מקדש שם שמים during the day, therefore every time is like the very first. By קריאת שמע however the mitzvah is only once in the morning and once in the evening, therefore he is not fulfilling any mitzvah by saying it more times. None of these reasons apply to the י”ג מדות which are only a בקשת רחמים that Hashem should have mercy on us with His י”ג מדות של רחמים. Therefore only those who are actually davening and asking for רחמים should say it.
However, Reb Moshe says that theמנהג העולם is to say the י”ג מדות together with the tzibbur even though they themselves have already davened. The reason for this may be to do a טובה for those who are davening now. When there are more people saying the י”ג מדות it awakens רחמים on the tzibbur who are davening. For this, one should interrupt even in the middle of his learning. However if one is learning ברבים, logic would say not to interrupt. When joining in the י”ג מדות, one does not have to say קל מלך יושב. The same is true for one who is at home near a shul and hears the י”ג מדות, he should say it together with them. Some poskim say that someone who is not careful to be מפסיק in middle of his learning, especially one who answers his phone in the middle of learning, should definitely interrupt his learning to say the י”ג מדות.
Reb Shlomo Zalman zt”l says that in regard to אשרי and עלינו לשבח, the main reason it is said together with the tzibbur is because of דרך ארץ. Therefore if one is learning he does not have to say it together with the tzibbur, as long as it is not recognizable that he is not saying it. So by אשרי, when everyone is sitting he may continue to learn sitting. By עלינו when everyone is standing he should also stand and say it together with them. For some reason people are not careful about this.
There is a machlokes if one may interrupt in the middle of פסוקי דזמרה. One may not interrupt in middle of קריאת שמע וברכותיה. Reb Chaim Kaneivsky shlit”a says, that during שמונה עשרה in the middle of שמע קולינו, one can beמהרהר the י”ג מדות together with the tzibbur. In between the first יהיו לרצון and אלקי נצור some are of the opinion that the י”ג מדות can be said. Others hold that it should only be done with הרהור. The י”ג מדות can be said after the second יהיו לרצון even before one is עוקר רגליו and takes three steps back. Even though it is prohibited to learn then, any תפילות ותחנונים may be recited.
If one hears a brocha in middle of saying the י”ג מדות he may interrupt to answer amen. There is a discussion amongst the poskim if one may say the י”ג מדות together with the tzibbur if he hears it only through a microphone or live hook up. If one heard the י”ג מדות before he recited ברכת התורה, there is room to be lenient and say it together with the tzibbur.1
Prepared by R’ Avrohom Yehoshua Ziskind
1Sources:האלולים קודש לה’