HaMaariv Aravim, or simply Maariv Aravim, is the first blessing before the Shema and generally the opening prayer during Maariv. It is considered to be the parallel prayer to Yotzer ohr, which is recited in the same place at Shacharit. Just like Yotzer Ohr speaks of the coming of light, HaMaariv Aravim speaks of the coming of darkness.
HaMaariv Aravim and Ahavat Olam being recited at the beginning of Maariv is seen as a preparation for the recitation of the Shema in the form of an affirmation of unity.
HaMaariv Aravim is a praise of God for bringing on the darkness, controlling the day and night, for ordering the stars in heaven, and for the seasons.
Time of recitation 
While it is preferable to recite Maariv after dusk, it is permissible to recite this blessing any time after sunset, even if dusk has not occurred yet.
- ^ Shema is for Real By Joel Lurie Grishaver, page 62
- ^ Teaching Tefilah: Insights and Activities on Prayer By Bruce Kadden, Barbara Binder Kadden, page 48
- ^ Śiaḥ śarfe ḳodesh By Richard N. Levy, Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, page 57
- ^ Teaching Tefilah: Insights and Activities on Prayer By Bruce Kadden, Barbara Binder Kadden, page 45
- ^ Rabbinic-lay relations in Jewish law By Walter Jacob, Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah, Central Conference of American Rabbis, page 124