Ashrei: Lifting the Falling Shechinah

Ashrei: Lifting the Falling Shechinah

“Happy are they who dwell in Your house and praise You continually…” From this verse (of Psalm 85:5), the Talmudic sages found support for the proper preparation for prayer: first settle the minds and then pray. First dwell in the home then offer praise. (Tosefos, Berachos 32b)

This introduction is then followed by Psalm 145. According to the Talmud (in Tractate Berachos 4b), any individual who recites this Psalm three times daily is certain to experience the World to Come. For this reason it is included in the prayers three times, twice in the morning prayers,and once in the afternoon prayers.

By meditating on the meaning of its verses, we are assured of being strengthened in our belief and resolve, and because of that, we will inherit life in a future world.

This Psalm contains all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet except the letter nun, which is the first letter of nefilah, meaning “downfall” (as in the downfall of the nation of Israel) on a collective and individual level into the trap of worry, doubt, uncertainty.

Additionally, the nun refers to the mystery of the fallen Shechinah—the Presence of God, which is in exile now, as we read in the Book of Amos (9:11) “the canopy of David that is falling”—falling now. What we need to do is elevate the Shechinah, and bring about the unification between the higher spiritual world and the lower physical world.

This is why this Psalm opens with: “A Psalm of praise by David: I will elevate You,” meaning “I will elevate/lift up the Shechinah.” And this we do by offering praise to God.


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