The service will often begin 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/she recites the full Kaddish
is recited, and the mourners' Kaddish
ends the service. Other prayers occasionally added include the Counting of the Omer
) and Psalm 27
(between the first of Elul
and the end of Sukkot
The word Maariv
is the first significant word in the opening blessing of the evening service. It is derived from the Hebrew
, which translates to evening
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".
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, the Amidah
is not repeated by the leader, unlike by all other prayers.
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.
Generally, the time when Maariv
can first be recited is when the time for reciting 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 Maariv
is recited prior to this time, the Shema is repeated later in the evening.
Back-to-back 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.
The first main part of the service is focused on the Shema Yisrael.
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 Chabad-Lubavitch
and 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 blessing.
On Shabbat and holidays, some congregations recite relevant verses at this point.
This is followed by the Shemoneh Esreh
). Half Kaddish
is recited just before the Amidah
, in order to separate between the required Shema
and the (originally) optional Amidah
. The Amidah
is followed by the full Kaddish
Unlike in other prayers, the Amidah is not repeated aloud by the chazzan in Maariv.
(and, in Israel, most who follow Nusach Sefard
) then say Psalm 121
(or another topical Psalm
), say the Mourner's Kaddish and 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 repeat Barechu after 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
. 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 protection".
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 Psalm 90
, 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"
and 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 are concluded.
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
. On Purim
, the Book of Esther
is read, followed by V'Ata Kadosh
and on Tish'a Ba'av
the 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 congregations recite Psalm 24
. All of these additions take place between the Full Kaddish and Aleinu.
- ^ ben Maimon, Moses. "Prayer and the Priestly Blessing 1:6" תפילה וברכת כהנים א' ו' [Tefillah uVirkat Kohanim 1:6]. Mishneh Torah. Translated by Touger, Eliyahu.
- ^ Berakhot 26b
- ^ Donin 1991, pp. 340–341.
- ^ In strict law, one should recite Mincha between sunset and nightfall only if one recites Arvit after nightfall. Conversely one should recite Arvit between sunset and nightfall only if one recites Mincha before sunset. In other words, one should not combine both prayers in the period between sunset and nightfall. The prevailing practice is to convene for Mincha shortly before sunset, so that Arvit may be prayed after sunset. On yet another view, the disputed period is not that between sunset and nightfall but between Plag Hamincha and sunset, that is, last one and one-quarter seasonal hours before sunset.
- ^ 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 and must be repeated after nightfall.
- ^ Tikhlal
- ^ It is not clear whether this is meant to replace the latecomers' Amidah, or to give them additional time by prolonging the service.
Last edited on 28 March 2021, at 05:59
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