Maariv or Ma'ariv (Hebrew: מַעֲרִיב, [maʔăˈʁiv]), also
known as Arvit (Hebrew: עַרְבִית, [aʁˈvit]), is a Jewish
prayer service held in the evening or night. It consists primarily of
Shema and Amidah.
The service usually begins with two verses from Psalms, followed by
the communal recitation of Barechu. The three paragraphs of the Shema
are then said, both preceded and followed by two blessings, although
sometimes a fifth blessing is added at the end. The hazzan (leader)
then recites half-Kaddish. The
Amidah is said quietly by everyone,
and, unlike at the other services, is not repeated by the hazzan. He
recites the full Kaddish,
Aleinu is recited, and the mourners' Kaddish
ends the service. Other prayers occasionally added include the
Counting of the Omer
Counting of the Omer (between
Passover and Shavuot) and
(between the first of
Elul and the end of Sukkot).
Maariv is generally recited after sunset. However, it may be recited
as early as one and a quarter seasonal hours before sunset. This is
common only on Friday nights, in order to begin
Shabbat earlier. At
the conclusion of
Shabbat and holidays, the service is usually delayed
until nightfall. While
Maariv should be prayed before midnight, it may
be recited until daybreak or even sunrise.
Mincha and Maariv
3.2 On Shabbat
4 Prayers included
4.1 Introductory prayers
4.4 Concluding prayers
5.1 Friday night
5.2 After Shabbat
5.3 Counting of the Omer
5.4 Other additions
6 See also
Maariv is the first significant word in the opening blessing
of the evening service. It is derived from the
Hebrew word erev, which
translates to evening.
Maariv is a conversion of this word into a
verb, which means "bringing on night." Arvit is the adjective form of
this word, roughly translated as "of the evening".
Maariv is said to correspond to the evening observances in the Holy
Temple. Although there were no sacrifices brought at night, any animal
parts which were not burned during the day could be offered at night.
Since this was not always necessary, the evening prayer was declared
to be optional as well. However, the Jews long ago accepted it as an
obligation, so it is now considered to be mandatory. However, there
remain some vestiges of its original voluntary status; for example,
Amidah is not repeated by the leader, unlike by all other
Another explanation is that as the third prayer,
Maariv corresponds to
Jacob, the third patriarch. Support is brought from Genesis 28:11,
which says that when
Jacob left his hometown of
Beersheva to go to
Haran, he "met at the place for the sun had set." The Talmud
understands this to mean that
Jacob prayed at night, and hence
instituted Maariv. Some suggest that he first started reciting the
prayer after he fled from his homeland, and as a result, the prayer
service has become associated with trust in God.
Further information: Zmanim
Generally, the time when
Maariv can first be recited is when the time
Mincha ends. But there are varying opinions on this.
Maariv should not begin before 1¼ hours before sunset. Others delay
Maariv until after sunset or after dusk. This is so the
Shema can be
recited in its proper time. To satisfy this requirement, if
recited prior to this time, the
Shema is repeated later in the
Mincha and Maariv
In many congregations, the afternoon and evening prayers are recited
back-to-back, to save people having to attend synagogue twice. The
Vilna Gaon discouraged this practice, and followers of his set of
customs commonly wait until after nightfall to recite Ma'ariv, since
the name derives from the word "nightfall".
On the eve of Shabbat, some have the custom to recite the Maariv
prayer earlier than usually, generally during Pelag Hamincha (1¼
hours before sunset). This is in order to fulfill the precept of
adding from the weekday to the holiness of Shabbat. However, this is
too early for the recitation of Shema, so
Shema should be repeated
later under these circumstances.
On weekdays, the service begins with two verses from Psalms: 78:38 and
The first main part of the service is focused on the
In a congregation, Barechu, the formal public call to prayer, is
recited. Then come two benedictions, one praising God for creating the
cycle of day and night, and one thanking God for the Torah.
The three passages of the
Shema are then recited.
Two more benedictions are recited. The first praises God for taking
the Jews out of Egypt, and the second prays for protection during the
night. Ashkenazim outside of Israel (except
followers of the Vilna Gaon) then add another blessing (Baruch Adonai
L'Olam), which is made mostly from a tapestry of biblical verses.
However, this is omitted on
Shabbat and holidays, and by some at the
conclusion of those days and on Chol HaMoed. (This prayer is also said
by Baladi Temanim in and out of Israel, albeit combined with the last
Shabbat and holidays, some congregations recite relevant verses at
This is followed by the Shemoneh Esreh (Amidah). Just beforehand is
Half Kaddish, to separate between the required
Shema and the
(originally) optional Amidah. The
Amidah is followed by the full
Sephardim (and, in Israel, most who follow Nusach Sefard) then say
Psalm 121 (or another topical Psalm), say the Mourner's
repeat Barechu, before concluding with the Aleinu. Ashkenazim, in the
diaspora, neither say
Psalm 121 nor repeat Barechu, but conclude with
Aleinu followed by the Mourner's
Kaddish (in Israel, Ashkenazim do
Barechu after mourner's Kaddish).
From the beginning of
Hoshanah Rabbah (and outside of
Shemini Atzeret as well),
Nusach Ashkenaz recites
which contains many allusions to the
Days of Awe
Days of Awe and Sukkot. This is
again followed by the mourner's Kaddish.
At the beginning of
Shabbat on Friday night, the
Amidah is immediately
followed by the recitation of Genesis 1-3 which discusses God's
"resting" on the seventh day of creation. Although these verses were
already said during the
Amidah (and will be recited yet again during
Kiddush at home) they are repeated. This is because when Shabbat
coincides with a holiday, the
Amidah does not include the passage.
The three verses are followed by the Seven-Faceted Blessing. This is a
single blessing designed to summarize the seven blessings of the
Amidah, for those who came late. While originally this was said
only by the leader, it is now customary for the congregation to recite
the middle part before the leader does so. This blessing is omitted on
the first night of Passover, because that is considered a "time of
Further information: Motza'ei Shabbat
Maariv service following Shabbat, several additions are
A paragraph called "Ata Chonantanu" is inserted into the fourth
blessing of the Amidah. The recitation of this paragraph officially
ends Shabbat. One who forgets to recite this paragraph may also end
Shabbat through Havdalah or by saying the words "Blessed is He Who
differentiates between the holy and the secular."
Two sections of prayers, "Vihi Noam" (the last verse from
followed by the full
Psalm 91) and V'Ata Kadosh (all but the first two
verses of Uva Letzion), are added to the service.
Nusach Ashkenaz also
adds "Veyiten Lecha" (whereas
Nusach Sefard say this at
home after Havdala). These prayers are recited out of mercy for the
wicked. The wicked are given a reprieve from
Gehinnom during Shabbat,
and the reprieve continues until all evening prayers following Shabbat
Counting of the Omer
Main article: Counting of the Omer
During the seven weeks from the second night of
Passover until (but
not including) Shavuot, the day is counted. This is usually done
during Maariv, just before Aleinu. Others postpone the counting until
the end of the service. If it is not yet nightfall, many
congregations leave the counting to the individual.
In general, relatively few prayers are added onto Maariv, even on
holidays, although there are exceptions. On Simchat Torah, the Torah
is read during Maariv. On Purim, the
Book of Esther
Book of Esther is read, followed
by V'Ata Kadosh, and on
Tish'a Ba'av the
Book of Lamentations
Book of Lamentations and
some kinnot are recited, also followed by V'Ata Kadosh. On Yom Kippur,
an extended order of
Selichot is recited, followed by Avinu Malkeinu
(except on the Sabbath). On both
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, many
Psalm 24. All of these additions take place
between the Full
Kaddish and Aleinu.
^ Wein 2002, p. 88.
^ Donin 1991, p. 72.
^ Berakhot 26b
^ Wein 2002, p. 90.
^ Donin 1991, pp. 340–341.
^ In strict law, one should only recite
Mincha between sunset and
nightfall if one recites Arvit after nightfall; conversely one should
only recite Arvit between sunset and nightfall if one recites Mincha
before sunset; in other words one should not take advantage of both
flexibilities at once so as to combine the prayers. The prevailing
practice, of doing exactly that, is regarded as an emergency measure.
On yet another view, the disputed period is not that between sunset
and nightfall but the last seasonally adjusted hour and a quarter
^ One reason for this is that, while the prevailing practice may
satisfy the law concerning the timing of Arvit in the sense of the
evening Amidah, it means that the evening
Shema is recited too early.
^ Appel 1978, p. 60.
^ It is not clear whether this is meant to replace the latecomers'
Amidah, or to give them additional time by prolonging the service.
^ Appel 1978, p. 409.
^ Appel 1978, p. 410.
^ Donin 1991, p. 278.
^ Karo, 693:1.
Karo, Yosef. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim.
Appel, Gersion (1978). The Concise Code of Jewish Law. New York: Ktav
Publishing House. ISBN 978-0-88125-314-6.
Donin, Hayim H. (1991). To Pray As A Jew: A Guide To The Prayer Book
And The Synagogue Service. New York: Basic Books.
Wein, Berel (2002). Living Jewish: Values, Practices and Traditions.
New York: Mesorah Publications. ISBN 978-1-57819-753-8.
List of Jewish prayers and blessings
Mizmor Shir (
Songs of thanksgiving
Baruch Adonai L'Olam
Atah Hu Adonai L'Vadecha
Torah reading1, 2, 3
Shir shel yom
Torah reading1, 5
Baruch Adonai L'Olam
Shabbat / Holiday additions
Pesukei dezimra (
Al Netilat Yadayim
El Malei Rachamim
1 On Shabbat
2 On holidays
3 On Mondays and Thursdays
4 Only on
Shabbat and holidays, according to
Nusach Ashkenaz in
5 On fast days