KEROVAH (Heb. קרובא), name for various types of *piyyutim in the *Amidah prayer. The reader who chanted the prayer was called karova (Aram. קרובא; in Hebrew it would be karov קרוב). The kerovah intended for the Amidah in which *Kedushah was recited, i.e., for the Shaḥarit Amidah, according to the early usage of Ereẓ Israel, was designated kedushta while that for the *Musaf Amidah, where it was not customary to recite a Kedushah, was called shivata or shivah. The subject matter of the kedushta is fixed, being pertinent to the day on which it is recited, i.e., the weekly portion of the Torah, the haftarah, or the theme of a festival. But the shivata allowed for varied topics open to the choice and discretion of the paytan. The kedushta contains piyyutim for the first three blessings of the Amidah, those for the third blessing being numerous. The shivata contains seven equal sections corresponding to the number of blessings in the Amidah, except on festivals when the fourth blessing containing "the sanctity of the day" is made longer.
The following are the sections of the early kedushta: (1) Magen, generally speaking a piyyut with an acrostic from alef to lamed, ending with an allusion to the first blessing of the Amidah, Magen Avraham (Shield of Abraham); (2) Meḥayyeh, a continuation of the previous acrostic with the conclusion alluding to the second blessing, Meḥayyeh ha-metim ("Who revives the dead"); (3) a piyyut with an acrostic of the author's name; (4) a piyyut without an acrostic that ends with the word kadosh (holy); (5) a piyyut whose acrostic is from alef to yod, which in early manuscripts was called asiriyyah (group of ten); (6) an alphabetical acrostic based on the theme or subject of the day, its parts being connected with one another by the pertinent scriptural verses; (7) various piyyutim of an unfixed nature; (8) silluk, a long piyyut without an acrostic, containing a description of the importance of the subject matter of the day according to the midrashim. Just as it concluded the arrangement of the day's piyyutim, so it also served as a kind of preliminary to the Kedushah; (9) Kedushah, which is a hymn to God.
Among the sections of the kerovah were intertwined, as has been mentioned, scriptural verses appropriate to the topic; but beginning in the 16th century the verses no longer appeared in the prayer books. The kerovot for the Amidah of 18 blessings are similar in structure to the shivata, but their piyyutim are in general shorter and they are interwoven in all the blessings. Many of the kerovot also have reshut (prelude) which leads into the kerovah itself. In the course of time, slight changes were introduced into the early kerovah, but its essence was preserved. The kerovot for Rosh Ha-Shanah and the Day of Atonement received various additions, such as the teki'ot and the *Avodah. In the kerovot, there is no scope for individuality of composition, although there are kerovot for bridegrooms, for the death of important men, and for various events. The earliest known author of piyyutim to write kerovot was *Yannai, followed by Eleazar *Kallir, *Joshua, and *Phinehas b. Jacob ha-Kohen (Kafra). These paytanim, who lived and worked in Ereẓ Israel, influenced the writers of Babylon, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany.
Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 212ff., 309; M. Zulay, Piyyutei Yannai; (1938), 13–16; A.D. Goldschmidt, Mavo le-Maḥzor Rosh Ha-Shanah (1970), 32–42.
[Abraham Meir Habermann]