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Toward the end of mincha on Shabas, nusach S'farad and S'faradim say Psalms 36:7, 71:19, and 119:142, in that order. However, nusach Ashk'naz says the same verses in the reverse order: 119:142, 71:19, and 36:7. What's the reason for each order?

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Thank you for asking a question I never thought to ask but should have, and for reminding me to ask a similar question I've been forgetting to ask but have meant to. – Seth J Jul 30 '13 at 13:07
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Justifications for Minhag Sfard:

  1. The Tur (OC 292) brings both customs, and writes that the Nusach Sefard is the correct one, as the verses follow the same order which they appear in Tehillim.
  2. According to the Zohar (Parshas Terumah 156a), the three verses correspond to three Tzadikim who passed away on Shabbos afternoon - Yosef Hatzadik, Moshe Rabeiynu and Dovid Hamelech. Nusach Sefard recites the verses according to their respective birth order (Siddur Ha'arizal).
  3. The Sefer "Tanya", Abudraham and Sefer Hamanhig explain that the three verses are in ascending order of praise for of Hashem. We begin by saying that Hashem's charity is, "like the mighty mountains", then add that it in fact, "up to the heights", and finally conclude that even more so, it is "perpetual".
  4. The Sefer "Tanya" there adds that the order of the verses is alluded to in the verse "וה' אלוקים אמת"; we first mention the verse that contains the word "Hashem", next a verse with the word "Elokim" and finally a verse containing the word "Emes"

Justifications for Minhag Ashkenaz:

  1. The Levush (OC 292:2) explains that the idea of reciting these verses is considered "Tziduk Hadin", and each verse is considered a stronger form of "Tziduk Hadin" to the previous.

  2. The Likkutey Maharich (Seder Tefillas Mincha) brings an explanation that it is in order to conclude with the word "Hashem", and thus connect it to the Kadish we recite immediately thereafter.

  3. The Likkutey Maharich there quotes another explanation that the three verses are brought in the order of importance. The first is praise to Hashem for giving us the Torah, the second for the fact that He chose us over the angels, and the third for the respite he gives to those in Gehenom during Shabbos.

  4. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 292:6) suggests that the verse 119:142 corresponds to Moshe Rabbeynu (as it concludes "ותרתך אמת"), and was brought first in his honour.

(See 29-30 of this PDF for more.)

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