The sentences "Joyful are the inhabitants of Your House, constantly praising You. Joyful are the people for whom this is so" preface Ashrei. They aren't in the psalm that David wrote, 145, but a couple of siddurim mention they come from psalms "elsewhere". Anyone know?

Also wondering with all of the vigilance about referencing the Sages, why so loose in the liturgy about references to psalms? Neither of 2 Orthodox a conservative or a Sefardi siddur says exactly where those verses are from. Thanks.

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    Re: "the psalm that David wrote" - They are simply in a different psalm that David wrote. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by your second paragraph. What sidurim were you using and what "vigilance" are you referring to?
    – WAF
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 1:08
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    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 2:29
  • Thank you Isaac Moses. I think I did register today, even though I think I was also registered with Stack Exchange. It's a little confusing, but will keep trying til it 'takes.
    – Chana
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 15:23
  • The ArtScroll sidurim (and others) do cite these verses. The ArtScroll sidurim have a little footnote after each verse, which directs you to the bottom of the page, where the verse is cited.
    – msh210
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 17:34
  • Ofen they do, only not in this case. Minchah Ashrei is on page 356, and there are no footnotes on Ashrei in my Artscroll. Schakarit Ashrei is on page 246. no footnote. A number of liturgical texts are spoken about in Talmud, and given where they are from, but sometimes in the siddurim themselves and sometimes not it seems.
    – Chana
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 1:21

2 Answers 2


Those two lines, which begin with the same word, "ashrei", are excerpted thematically from two other chapters of T'hilim - 84 and 144 - as explained on Wikipedia.

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    What a stupid question then, except I don't believe Wikiipedia on things Jewish all the time, so I rarely even look.
    – Chana
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 15:39
  • (I upvoted your comment, @Chana. Don't be insulted: I was upvoting the "I don't believe... all the time", not the "What a stupid question"!)
    – msh210
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 16:25
  • Thanks for the upvote and not redirecting me to Wikipedia. I did use a search engine to try find the answer, then ignored the Wiki and non-Jewish sites to find this one instead.
    – Chana
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 1:52

"אַשְׁרֵי, יוֹשְׁבֵי בֵיתֶךָ-- עוֹד, יְהַלְלוּךָ סֶּלָה" -- Psalms 84:5

"אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם, שֶׁכָּכָה לּוֹ: אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם, שֱׁיְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו." -- Psalms 144:15

The Mishna (Berachot 30B) tells us that the "Early Pious Ones" would wait an hour before prayer in order to properly prepare to pray. The Talmud, (Berachot 32B) tells us the source for this is Tehillim 84:5, "Happy are they that dwell in Thy house, they are ever praising Thee. Selah". First they dwell in your house, and then they praise you (Rashi).

Tosafot (32B) says that this is why the Rabbis established that we say the verse "Ashrei Yoshvei" before starting Psalm 145, to exclude who say many verses that start with the word Ashrei. (In other words, the Rabbis said to say this verse, since it has a special connection to the beginning of prayer, more so than other verses that start with Ashrei)

The Tzelota D'Avraham points out that even in the time of the Talmud the prayer of Tefilla LeDavid was referred to as Ashrei. In Berachot 4B, R' Yochanan asks, if the prayer is alphabetical, why is there no Nun in Ashrei? From here we see that even in the time of the Talmud they were already referring to the prayer as Ashrei.

The Tzelota D'Avraham puts both these ideas together and says that at least as far back as the time of the Talmud, the custom was to say the last verse of Psalm 144 (verse 15) before reciting Psalm 145, since they are contiguous and also thematically similar. (Similarly to the way we make sure to add "Emet" at the end of Shema, because there is a verse that says "V'Hashem Elo-eichem Emet".)

"...happy is the people whose God is the LORD...I will extol Thee, my God, O King; and I will bless Thy name for ever and ever."

Later on (as Tosafot said), they added Psalm 84:5, because of the connection to the beginning of prayer.

The Tzelota L'Avraham later offers an additional answer. He says that they didn't want to start with Tehilla L'David, because it can be misinterpreted to mean "A Song of Praise to David" (instead of "By David"). So they decided to start from the previous verse. However, that previous verse doesn't make sense on it's own, because it says "Happy is the people that is in such a case.". What is the case? So they added another verse before it, "Happy are they that dwell in Thy house, they are ever praising Thee...".

Happy is the people that such is the case, that they are ever praising You.

There is one question we have left. Ashrei is not in the beginning of the prayers, so why would the Rabbis add a verse referring to pre-prayer preparations in the middle of prayer? To this, My Prayer answers that it was originally inserted in the beginning of the Afternoon service. Once they added it there they added it to all the rest of times the Ashrei prayer is mentioned as well.

As for why the prayer books you examined didn't have these sources, I don't know. The Siddur Tehillat Hashem from Kehot (a Chabad Siddur) is full of footnotes. For example, here's the page Ashrei is on.

  • Lots to think about and learn. The beginning of prayer is an interesting thought. It could be from what was in Tzelota D'Avraham as simple as they were always associated and said or sung together. Thank you, also for showing the page in the Chabad Siddur.
    – Chana
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 1:45
  • @Chana: right. according to both of the Tzelota D'Avraham answers, Psalm 144:15 was the main addition to Psalm 145 (which is said because the Talmud Berachot 4B says that whoever says Psalm 145 3 times a day is assured of a place in the world-to-come). After that they added Psalm 84:5 (according to one opinion after a while, according to the second right away).
    – Menachem
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 2:53
  • "Ashrei is not in the beginning of the prayers" This isn't obviously true. Hodu, Mizmor Shir, etc. are later additions and brachot were said at home. It could easily be that the original Pesukei Dizimra, which was the first thing said at shul, started with barukh sheamar and then ashrei.
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 17:35

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