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EDITED for clarity/Specificity.

It is my understanding that the halakhic basis for p'sukei d'zimra is primarily from the following sources:

  1. Shabbat 118b in which Rabbi Yosei says "let my portion be among those who recite hallel everyday"

  2. The Mishna in Berakhot 5:1 (also quoted in Berakhot 32b) "The Chasidim Rishonim would tarry one hour and then pray"

  3. Berakhot 32a "One should always order praise of HKBH and the pray"

Given that numbers 2 and 3 suggest that one must praise before any t'filah or amidah, why is there no p'sukei d'zimra for Mincha and Maariv? Does the Ashrei at the beginning of mincha serve this purpose? (since ashrei is the halakhic heart of P'sukei D'Zimrah). If this is so, why is there no ashrei at maariv then?

I'm mostly interested in being pointed to sources that might address this question either directly or indirectly.

  • 1
    We do precede Mincha and Arvit with verses (Psalm 145 before Mincha, and Shema before Arvit). It's true that the Mincha verses don't have dedicated blessings around them, though even the blessings around Pesukei Dizimra in the morning are relatively late. Are you confused about the blessings? About the number of verses? Please edit to clarify. – Double AA May 1 '17 at 15:59
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    Insightful question! I think that there is an allusion to the concept that King David would arise at midnight and play his harp and sing Psalms. That may be the source of why we recite primarily Psalms in the morning. – DanF May 1 '17 at 16:19
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This will be a partial answer to your insightful question.

This article cites Talmud Brachot 32b that lists the general reason for Psukei Dezimra. In short, it states that one must prepare himself by reciting the praises of G-d prior to making requests from him. While not explained in this article, this concept would explain the reason for the 1st 3 brachot in our Amidah, which focus on G-d's praises, and not our requests from him.

A view beginning at about the middle of page 6 of the article reveals the Ba'al Hatnya's reading which explains that the term tefillah when used in the Talmud generally means the Amidah. However, Ba'al Hatnay states that here, it refers to Kri'at SHema, since the Shema is a mitzvah from the Torah and, according to most opinions, Amidah is Rabbinical. Thus. he says that in order to say the AMidah, one must reach a personal "high point", which is the result of reciting Shema. Yet, one must work his way up to that personal his level by first reciting Psukei Dezimra before Shema to reach that high point gradually.

Well, this would explain why we don't have Psukei Dezimra at mincha as there is no Shema. OTOH, as stated in comments, the recital of Ashrei may be sufficient to accomplish that same "high point" that's mentioned. See the article and the Talmud about the reason for reciting Ashrei in mincha.

Shema is in Ma'ariv, and based on the Baa'al Hatnya's answer, it seems that one should require Psukei Dezimra for Ma'ariv as well. I have to research this a bit more, if I can find something. Offhand, I'm surmising that since there is an opinion that Ma'ariv is Reshut ("optional"), it may not require the same "build up". Or, perhaps the various Birkot Shema themselves accomplish the job.

  • Note the Shema part of Maariv is not Reshut according to anyone. – Double AA May 1 '17 at 19:34
  • @DoubleAA That's a good point, yes. That certainly "complicates" Ba'al Hatanya's reasoning, in a sense. – DanF May 1 '17 at 19:38
  • Perhaps for Ma'ariv, the recitation of והוא רחום וברכו fulfils the Ba'al haTanya's requirements, either that or the קדיש between שיר המעלות (included after tzeit) and והוא רחום – Noach MiFrankfurt May 2 '17 at 0:43
  • @ElianaMastrangelo I recommend that you browse through the Beurei Hatefila's site. He covers numerous angles of prayer citing some obscure sources that few people know about. Iyun Tefillah (study of prayer) is an important mitzvah that is overlooked, unfortunately. Considering that so much of our day is spent praying, why not enhance it by understanding something about what your saying - even if you learn one or two things per week? Many of the articles on the site are translated to English. – DanF May 5 '17 at 13:44

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