Prescription: Take 3X DailyBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Psalm 145 is commonly known as “Ashrei,” even though the two verses that start with that word are actually from two other Psalms (84 and 144). This Psalm is an alphabetic acrostic missing the letter Nun, and the Talmud in Brachos (4b) says that one who recites it thrice daily is assured of a place in the Next World. (We will discuss both of these points at the conclusion of the synopsis.)
David says that he will praise G-d and bless His Name every day, forever. G-d is great beyond our comprehension and He is rightly praised for it. Each generation will tell the next of His mighty deeds and the wonders He has made. They will relate how He punishes the wicked and bestows kindness. G-d is merciful and slow to anger; He is good to all and has mercy on His creatures, who thank Him for it.
Those whom G-d has created will tell of His might and the glory of His kingdom. His kingdom is eternal and He rules throughout history. G-d supports those who have fallen and He straightens those who have been bent. Everyone and everything turns to G-d for sustenance, and He supplies it in the proper time. He opens His hand to feed every creature. G-d is righteous and kind in all His actions; He is close by for those who call Him with faith. He acts on behalf of those who are in awe of Him and saves them. He protects those who love Him and destroys the evil ones. David concludes by saying that he hopes to always be able to bless G-d and that eventually all mankind will be inspired to join him in doing so.
So, back to our two statements. The Psalm is an alphabetical acrostic, but it does not contain a verse beginning with the letter Nun, which represents falling, as in Amos 5:2, “Fallen is the maiden of Israel; she will not arise again.” That’s some bad mojo. But the missing letter is alluded to in the verse subsequent to where Nun would be: “Someich Hashem l’chal hanoflim” – “G-d supports all who have fallen.”
Finally, what’s so special about Psalm 145 that reciting it three times a day ensures one a place in the Next World? Two things: it is an alphabetical acrostic, which praises G-d “from A to Z,” and it contains the verse “You open Your hand and satisfy the needs of all living things.” Other Psalms may have one of these sentiments or the other, but only Psalm 145 has both.
Disclaimer: Merely reciting the Psalm thrice daily may not be enough to reserve your place! It is assumed that the constant repetition reinforces the sentiments in the Psalm and causes a person to act upon them. Don’t take Ashrei for granted!