Ma'ariv minyan in a Jaffa Tel Aviv flea-market shop
Maariv at the Western Wall

Maariv, מעריב (also spelled Ma'ariv, known as Arvit) is a Jewish prayer service held in the evening.



The word 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 noun form of this word.[1]


Maariv was instituted by Jacob. 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.[2]

Time frame for recitation

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 shkia (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.[3]

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.[4] The Vilna Gaon discouraged this practice, and followers of his set of customs commonly wait until after nightfall to recite Ma'ariv (the name derives from the word "nightfall").[5]

On Shabbat

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 mitzvah 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.[6]

Prayers included

This service begins with the Barechu, the formal public call to prayer, and Shema Yisrael embraced by two benedictions before and two after. Ashkenazim outside of Israel (except Chabad-Lubavitch and followers of the Vilna Gaon) then add another blessing (Baruch Adonai le-Olam), which is made from a tapestry of biblical verses. (This prayer is also said by Baladi Temanim in and out of Israel.) This is followed by the Half-Kaddish, and the Shemoneh Esreh (Amidah), bracketed with the full Kaddish. Sephardim (and, in Israel, most who follow Nusach Sfard) 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 Barcheu after mourner's Kaddish).

The Maariv service consists of the following prayers:

  • Barechu (with a minyan)
  • Hamaariv Aravim
  • Ahavat Olam
  • Shema Yisrael
  • Emet Ve'Emunah
  • Hashkiveinu
  • Baruch Hashem L'Olam (weekdays only)
  • Veshamru (Shabbat only)
  • Half Kaddish
  • Amidah
  • Vaychulu (Shabbat only)
  • Seven-faceted blessing (Shabbat only)
  • Full Kaddish
  • Aleinu
  • Mourner's Kaddish

Unlike during Shacharit and Mincha, the Amidah is not repeated during Maariv. This is because of a Talmudic ruling that Maariv is considered optional. There were also no offerings in the temple at night, and the lack of a repetition serves as a reminder of this. Despite this ruling, observant Jews consider Maariv to be just as important as Shacharit and Mincha.[7]

Maariv after Shabbat

During the Maariv service following Shabbat, several additions are made.

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 (either self-recitation or by being yotzei on another).[8]

Two sections of prayers beginning with the verses "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 L'Cha" (whereas Sfardim and Nusach Sfard 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.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Living Jewish: values, practices and traditions By Berel Wein, page 88
  2. ^ Living Jewish: values, practices and traditions By Berel Wein, page 90
  3. ^ To pray as a Jew: a guide to the prayer book and the synagogue service By Hayim Halevy Donin, pages 340-41
  4. ^ 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 before sunset.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Concise Code of Jewish Law By Gersion Appel, page 60
  7. ^ To pray as a Jew: a guide to the prayer book and the synagogue service By Hayim Halevy Donin, page 72
  8. ^ e Code of Jewish Law By Gersion Appel, page 409
  9. ^ Concise Code of Jewish Law By Gersion Appel, page 410

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