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Maariv – Evening Prayer

Maariv – Evening Prayer

Even in the Evening

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The third of the three daily prayers, called the maariv (or arvit) prayer, is recited after dark (the first two are recited in the morning and afternoon). This prayer was instituted by our Patriarch Jacob.

Actually, when considering that the Jewish calendar date begins with the preceding nightfall, maariv – the evening prayer – is actually seen as the first of the day's prayers. The words of prayer involve the body in the service of G‑d, uplifting and refining the body so that it is more attuned to the spirit. In the initial stage of this process the body is still in spiritual darkness, so maariv is the first of the day's prayers.

When?

From tzeit hakochavim (the appearance of three medium stars in the night sky) until dawn. For the exact times of tzeit hakochavim and dawn in your location, click here.

The words of prayer involve the body in the service of G‑d, uplifting and refining the body so that it is more attuned to the spirit(It is also permitted to pray maariv early, up to 1¼ [halachic] hours before sunsetprovided that the afternoon prayers were recited before this cutoff time. This time is known as plag haminchah. If one is praying before nightfall, the Shema should be repeated after tzeit hakochavim. For more on this topic, click here.)

Where?

As with all prayers, preferred location is the synagogue, together with a congregation. Can't make it there? Face Jerusalem from wherever you are, and make it a private call.

How?

Wash your hands and open your prayer book.

Maariv opens with the recitation of the Shema and the "blessings of Shema," – two before and two after – followed by the nineteen-blessing Amidah (silent prayer) recited standing while facing Jerusalem. It concludes with the Aleinu hymn. The entire prayer lasts approximately ten minutes. If praying with a congregation, the prayer starts with the leader saying the kaddish and Barchu, and kaddish again before and after the Amidah.

For special days (e.g. Shabbat, holidays, fast days), there are special variations.

Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
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David S. Burleson, TX November 23, 2017

Thank you for sharing this article. Did not know that I could pray 1.25 hours before sunset.

Your "Siddur" app really helps alot. It's worth the few $$. Everything is right there and I can adjust the size of the letters for easier reading. Plus it gives the correct times for your location Reply

jim dallas October 10, 2016

full interesting and reminding. Reply

Erene Schwarz South Africa September 11, 2016

time of prayers Shalom....I don't understand why the prayers must be rushed...I am learning the prayers in Hebrew after praying them in English and I like to say them with meaning and not in a rush. Am I doing something Wrong? Toda. Reply

Yisroel Meir Baltimore, MD April 27, 2017
in response to Erene Schwarz:

Praying with a Tzibbur/Congregation Absolutely not. If you are praying slowly at home there is no problem. Praying in synagogue has two "pluses:"
(1), Just being together with a Tzibbur/Congregation, properly praying to HaShem, which includes the ability to hear and respond to the Leader's "Borchu," Kaddish, and Amens, and

(2), Praying with the Tzibbur. The main prayer is the "Amidah/standing/Shmoneh Esrei/the18+1 Blessings," that are said quietly yet together, if possible. The preference is that those that are praying, at least ten, should start the Amidah together. In order to do it would be best to start a few minutes early, so that you start the Amidah together. Be cognizant to stop at the end of a verse or phrase to answer (1)the Borchu (2)the "Amen, yehei Shmei Rabba mevorach lolam u'lol'mei ol'mai'ah" & (3) the "Amen" only after "da'ameeran b'olma v'imru ..." with the Tzibbur.
If you cannot start early, if you start your Amidah before they complete the Tzibbur's Amidah, that's ok. I do this often; I can't keep up! Reply

Erene Schwarz May 1, 2017
in response to Yisroel Meir:

Shalom , and thanks so much. Blessings for this new month. Reply

Joseph Solomon Renwick June 24, 2017
in response to Erene Schwarz:

Thank you very much, Shalom and Blessings Reply

Anonymous Greensboro, NC May 15, 2016

Josef Feisel,

Shortly thereafter, I figured out what I was doing incorrectly. Now, I'm regularly davening three times a day and I'm acquainted quite well with the halachic time schedule! Thank you for your advice. I plan on doing so when I am able to move to a more ideal location.

Blessings Reply

Josef Feisel Burlington Vermont February 24, 2016

Lasts 10minutes Why you are taking so long Mr. Anonymous, is because you need 1.- A Tehillat Hashem Siddur( The blue one) 2.- If you can find a Minyan you will learn how to do it right, for example the Kabbalah Shabbat and Mariv on Shabbat Eve is different if you do the regular Maariv, if Minyan you will Kaddish and Yom Tov is different and Rosh Chodesh. I Advise you to move near to a Synagogue so you can practice, practice, practice, and practice so you will take less than 10 minutes(in English) practice makes you Pray faster and connects you with G-d. Concentration in prayer is very important you speak with The King Of the Universe. Time actually does not matter, take your time one step at a time.

SHALOM Reply

Anonymous October 28, 2015

Lasts Ten Minutes I'm converting to Judaism and I'm still in the earliest of the stages. But, I have begun by at least trying to pray the Bedtime Sh'ma, say the Modeh Ani, do the Amidah three times a day and say the sh'ma. It's my conviction. My only issue is that you say it takes ten minutes to do the Maariv while it takes me much longer even if I read it in English. I must be messing up. Could you explain? Reply

Yisroel Cotlar Cary, BC August 13, 2012

Re: In Hashem's Torah, our manual for life, we are instructed that these are the times we are to connect to G-d with prayer. And Hashem awaits our prayers three times a day.

Jewish Mysticism explains that each of these times has its unique spiritual significance. For more insights on this topic please search 'prayer'. Reply

Camille Los Angeles, CA/USA August 7, 2012

Evening Prayer Precious words, reminding and encocuraging of the importance and power of the evening prayer and the Amidah blessings -- particularly helpful to me personally as I ponder events occurring in my life and ask Hashem;s intercession foro those I love. Reply

June K Milwaukee, WI August 7, 2012

repeats of prayers If one prays with all one's heart, why is it necessary to repeat prayers? I know so many Jews with OCD. Could all the repeats and threepetes be because our ancestors who set up the system were incredibly OCD? Reply

Yisroel Meir Baltimore April 27, 2017
in response to June K:

First, the Shma is to be recited twice per day morn & evening, by Biblical command.. As for Amidah (Standing Prayer) three times: See above response by Yisroel Cotlar, Cary, BC.
In addition, Rabbi Samson Refoel Hirzch, 1808-1888, a very prominent intellectual, leader of Frankfurt Jewry for 27 years, writes in his commentary, "The Pentateuch," that a major reason for the Amidah is not that we pray for the 18+1 things but that we learn what to pray for. That HaShem is our forefathers' G-d, and that we can connect with him, make a relationship with Him, that he is All-Powerful, Holy, can help us with Knowledge, Repentance, Forgiveness, Redemption, Healing, Livelihood, Etc.

The Rabbis determined that some things need repetition three times a day:
(A)To impress us with that "information " as we go off to work,
(B) towards the middle of our busy day (Mincha) &
(C) as we retire (Ma'ariv).
This way, we're constantly in sync. When during our busy day we need to, we can say our own quick prayer for any of the 18+1 Reply

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