In Berakhot 32b, Tosafot (s.v. קודם תפילתו) provide a reason as to why we start Ashrei with Psalm 84:5. In their words, it's "לאפוקי מנהו דאמרי אשרי הרבה", which either means to exclude or to exempt those who recite Ashrei many times (or those who recite many ashreis). Excluding somebody can denote marginalising them; exempting somebody can also denote allowing them to carry out a practice - like יצא in Hebrew.

What are they referring to? To put this into historical context, the tosafot recorded in this tractate are those produced in the school of Evreux, which Wikipedia tells me flourished at the beginning of the 13th century. Do we know of any customs around the recitation of Ashrei from this time? People who said it repeatedly, or who said many different varieties? And what do Tosafot think of this practice? Are they for it or against?


1 Answer 1


Tosfot is disapproving of the practice of including extra verses beginning with Ashrei before Psalm 145. In the roughly contemporary Machzor Vitri (89), we find Psalm 145 introduced with Psalms 119:1, 119:2, 84:6, 112:1, 89:16, 84:5 (and possibly 144:15):

אשרי תמימי דרך ההלכים בתרת יי: אשרי נוצרי עדותיו בכל לב ידרושוהו: אשרי אדם עוז לו מסילות בלבבם: אשרי איש ירא יי במצותיו חפץ מאד: אשרי העם יודעי תרועה יי באור פניך יהלכון: אשרי יושבי ביתיך עוד יהללוך סלה וכו'.‏

In this Romaniote Machzor (pg. 11) we find just Psalms 119:1 before the familiar 84:5 and 144:15. In this Machzor from Aleppo (pg. 26) we find Psalms 119:1, 119:2, Proverbs 8:34, then Psalms 84:5 and 144:15. Interestingly in light of the Gemara Tosfot commented on, in this Siddur from Persia we find 140:14 sandwiched between 84:5 and 144:15.

Maharsha to that Tosfot justifies the common practice of including 144:15, even though Tosfot seems to limit to just 84:5, because 144:15 is adjacent to Psalm 145. (I'm not sure I really understand that argument; Tosfot seems clear there is nothing between 84:5 and תהלה לדוד.) The Bach (OC 51) just accepts that the practice doesn't match Tosfot's.

As for why Tosfot disapproves, it's not entirely clear. The Rokeiach (27) decries the "French" custom of adding Psalm 119:1 for various numerological reasons. (Note the Rokeiach lived in Germany and the Machzor Vitri is from France. Évreux is also in France.)


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .