English Basic Explanation - Chapter 145
Psalm 145 is recited as part of our prayer service three times each day, twice during Shaharit and once during Minha. It is commonly referred to as "Ashre," because we introduce this chapter with two other verses from Tehillim, both of which begin with the word "Ashre."
This chapter follows the sequence of the Hebrew alphabet, which each verse beginning with the subsequent letter of the alphabet. The Talmud (Berachot 4b) notes that David here skips the letter "Nun," and explains that he wished to avoid the negative association of this letter that emerges from a verse in the Book of Amos (5:2), "Nafela Lo Tosif Kum Betulat Yisrael" ("You have fallen, you shall never again stand, O maiden of Israel!"). Rather than include a verse for the letter "Nun," David instead skipped straight to the letter "Samech," declaring, "Somech Hashem Le'chol Ha'nofelim" – "God supports all who fall" (verse 14). In direct contrast to the frightening implication of the verse in Amos, that the Jewish people may at some point "fall" and will be unable to "rise," David emphasizes that God supports all those who fall, and thus no matter how dire a situation we may find ourselves in, God will ensure our continued survival and success.
The importance of this chapter is expressed in a famous Talmudic passage (Berachot 4b) which states that a person who recites this Psalm three times each day is guaranteed a share in the next world. The reason for this chapter's unique importance, the Gemara explains, relates to the fundamental message conveyed in verse 16: "You open Your hand and satisfy the wants of all living beings." Ibn Ezra comments on this verse that whereas mortal kings are supported by taxes they impose upon their constituents, our King, the Almighty, supports us. He provides all our needs, and every creature on earth owes his existence to God. It appears from the Gemara that this realization, that everything we receive from the earth comes to us as a gift from the Almighty, is what enables a person to earn his share in the world to come. Once a person understands his stature as but a humble servant of God, he will conduct himself with the loyal subservience necessary to merit eternal life in the next world.
One unique feature of this song of praise is the frequent repetition of the word "Kol" – "every" – which underscores the endlessness of God's benevolence. David emphasizes the Almighty's unlimited kindness, His compassion and care for all creatures at all times. This endless generosity requires us to praise and extol Him endlessly; no matter how much we express our gratitude and appreciation, we have yet to fulfill our obligation. As God's benevolence knows no limits, so are there no limits to the praise He deserves. We thus remind ourselves three times each of our endless debt of gratitude to God, who graciously provides us with our needs, at all times and under all circumstances.