Order of Reading the Law. cli
guilty]). The worshipper in prayer rests his whole heart on God's mercy, and, indeed, the instinct to put out of sight the thought of retribution is a natural one. Nor is there any limit to God's forgiveness. There are no bounds to his loving-kindness, for though, in the words of Ps. cxlv. 20, the wicked are subject to the divine displeasure, yet as the ninth verse of the same Psalm assures us: The Lord is good unto all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Lord of the Universe, fulfil the wishes of my heart for good. This prayer appears for the first time in the work above named, the Shaare Zion of Nathan Hannover, the first edition of which was printed in Prag in 1662. But the prayer, it has been urged, originated in a French-speaking country (Berliner, 'Randbcmerkungen, i. p. 65). For towards the close occurs (P.B. p. 145) the petition: Guard us... from evil hours (מִשְּׁעוֺת רָעוֺת) that visit and afflict this world. This phrase, evil hour, it has been suggested, is the translation of the French malheure which, literally meaning evil hour, came to express the idea of unhappiness or misfortune. This phrase is also found in the prayer on P.B. p. 67 (also repeated on p. 146) a prayer which is a good deal older than the seventeenth century (see note on P.B. p. 67). The phrase evil hours is in fact derived from the Palestinian Talmud (Ber. v.§I) where it occurs in a prayer of Abahu. Nevertheless the prayer before us first appears in the work of Nathan (Nata) ben Moses Hannover. He was a sufferer from the Cossack raids under Chmielnicki in 1648 that terrible experience which left so dark a mark on Jewish life, and the history of which Nathan wrote (Yeven Mesulah, Venice, 1653). This work "certainly places Hannover among the best historians of the seventeenth century." After his escape from Russia, he settled for a time in Venice where he studied the Kabbala. His work Shaare Zion is a " collection of mystical prayers, religious customs, and ascetic reflections; it was chiefly taken from Kabbalistic works, and was very popular among the Eastern Jews " (M. Seligsohn,