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Sometimes spelled "Piyyut", this term refers to a lyrical composition intended to embellish an obligatory prayer or any other Jewish religious ceremony, communal or private. In a wider sense, piyut is the totality of compositions composed in various genres of Hebrew liturgical poetry from the 1st century CE to the late 18th century.

In ancient times, the piyutim (pl. from piyut) were intended to replace most of the set versions of prayer and to serve as substitutes. They ensured a veriety of obligatory prayers, mainly on Sabbaths and festivals. In a later period, when the prayers became fixed, sections of piyut were interspersed in certain places within the set patterns of the prayers. Obligatory prayers were also embellished by special sets of piyutim for private occasions, such as weddings, circumcisions, and mourning.

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