Jul 16, 1997 - 09:32 -
I have a question:
Thanks for your interesting question.
In Hebrew poetry, acrostic messages are common. Acrostics of the alphabet often connote completion, totality, or wholeness (usually with respect to the quality of our divine service or God's providential care). Even in English, the expression "from A to Z" is used to connote this.
The absence of the Nun in Ashrei expresses our sense of loss and incompleteness resulting from the lack of the Temple. Nun is chosen because it is associated with n'fi-lah, Israel's downfall. (Notice that the nun verse should have occurred at the head of the the verse that speaks of God supporting the fallen: Someiech HaShem l'chawl ha-NO-F'LIM).
It is interesting to note that the copy of Ashrei recently found in the Dead Sea Scrolls includes the nun verse! Presumably that edition pre-dated the destruction.
I hope this information is helpful.