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The prayer we know as Ashrei contains primarily Psalm 145 which is written using the Aleph-Bet acrostic (missing the letter Nun). Psalm 145 starts with the words "Psalm to David". IIRC, Talmud Brachot 4b calls this just "Tehilla L'David", which seems to indicate that the term Ashrei was not known or used in the Talmud, and this must have been a much later addition.

Two verses were added before Psalm 145, both beginning with the word Ashrei - one from Psalm 84 and another from Psalm 144.

Why were these verses added? In your answer, you can include history, but I am mainly interested in the reasoning for these additions. If there are other versions (additions) that appeared at some point, you are welcome to mention these.

  • The last verse is also an addition. – Double AA Jul 2 '15 at 17:40
  • @DoubleAA Thanks. I know that. I didn't ask that b/c I already know the reason for that. Though, I may make that a separate future question. Happy Amer. Yom Ha'atzma'ut – DanF Jul 2 '15 at 17:46
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/10086 – msh210 Jul 3 '15 at 5:56
  • Maybe we should add in a "nun" verse too. King David seems to have forgotten it.. And yes we conclude with a verse from Hallel which I think is the last verse of psalm 115 – CashCow Sep 8 '15 at 15:37
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The Siddur Rav Amram Gaon includes the initial verse.

Abudirham (nefillas apaim, ashrei, una letzion) writes that the reason for the addition of this verse, is that this verse is the source in the Talmud (B'rachos 30b) for practice of waiting a certain amount of time before prayer for one's thoughts to settle.

ומה שמוסיפין בתחילת המזמור אשרי יושבי ביתך מפני שממנו אנו למדין בפ' אין עומדים שצריך אדם שישהה שעה א' קודם שיתפלל כדי שתתיישב דעתו עלין ויכוין את לבו

Tosafos in B'rachos (32b) write:

קודם תפלתו מנין שנא' אשרי יושבי ביתך. ולפיכך תקנו לומר זה הפסוק קודם תהלה לדוד לאפוקי מהנהו דאמרי אשרי הרבה


I assume that Abudirham's point is that p'sukkei d'zimra in general is a fulfillment of this, and we therefore quote this verse in p'sukkei d'zimra.

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