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Why do we recite the Ashrei three times a day?

by Rabbi Shalom Hazan

  

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The Talmud1 states that Ashrei is the primary chapter of Pesukei DeZimrah (this section of the prayer), because the initials of its verses follow the order of the Hebrew alphabet, from aleph to tav. This symbolizes that our praise and service of G-d are complete. But, the Talmud asks, why was Ashrei chosen when two other Psalms also contain complete alphabetic acrostics? The Talmud responds that Ashrei includes the verse "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing."

The three Ashrei's correspond to the three daily prayers.

According to Kabbalah, Psalms are not recited during nighttime hours. Therefore, we don't say Ashrei during the evening services, and instead we recite two Ashrei's during the morning prayers.

Footnotes

  • 1. Tractate Berachot 4b

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Prayer » Laws and Customs

Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
Psalms
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.