MA'ARAVOT (Heb. מַעֲרָבוֹת, also ma'aravim, sing. מַעֲרָבִית ma'aravit), an arrangement of piyyutim that embellish the Ma'ariv (*Arvit) prayers for festivals and special Sabbaths. The piyyutim are topical and conclude with an allusion to all the blessings recited before the *Amidah. Originally these piyyutim were used in place of the regular prayers, but in the course of time the regular prayers were reinstated and the piyyutim were offered at the end of each prayer just before its blessing. Except for the lengthy piyyut recited before Mi Khamokha ("Who is like Thee"), the piyyutim are brief. This lengthy piyyut is composed in the form of a single or double alphabetical acrostic with the name of the author appearing at the end. Some communities customarily added a reshut ("prelude") to the Ma'ariv. On the eve of Shavuot, Tosefet Bikkur ("Addition of First Fruit") or simply Bikkur, a piyyut whose subject is the bringing of the first fruits, is recited. The ma'aravot are in current usage in most Ashkenazi communities, but there are no ma'aravot in the Sephardi rite.
Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 212; Idelsohn, Liturgy, 194, 330f.
[Abraham Meir Habermann]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.