We have previously heard that the right time to pray is in the morning at sunrise. However, to make it more convenient, the wise men have expanded this limit until the third hour hour of the day, until approximately nine o'clock. Wherever they have big congregations, as in Worms, Mainz, Frankfurt, Friedberg, Moravia, Bohemia, Poland, Russia etc., and have many synagogues and shuls (as they call their churches), they assemble at the correct time for prayer and say their prayers there according to their Machzórim [festival prayer books] and other prayer books. We have spent more time than planned in the previous chapter on the toilet of the Jews, so we will have to hurry to the following.
After they have done all their cleaning, inside and out in the morning, have washed themselves and donned their Zizis then they must not be lazy and tired, but fresh, and they hurry off to shul, as King David says (Ps. 55.15): We will go to God's house in a storm. They interpret this "with haste," as if somebody was hunting you. In Masseches Beráchos Rabbi Hona said: He who wants to go to shul should make his tread light. Therefore the prophet says Hosea 6.3: We would like to know and hunt to search for God. (This is the way it is rendered into Yiddish by the Jews.) [The New Oxford Bible renders: Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.] That is, we shall be as fast as in a hunt. It may be compared to a king who tells his advisors and courtiers to gather at a certain place or room early in the morning. Then the King gets up to find out which one of his people followed his order; the one who is there first he loves and addresses in a friendly manner. It is the same way with God. He wants the children of Israel to appear early in the morning before him, and they should bring all their needs in their prayers before him. And if he comes to shul and finds nobody, he becomes angry at his children and says Isaiah 50.2: Why did I come and find nobody present? I called, and nobody answered. It is good for the one who comes early, and talks to the Lord. The Lord loves the servant who is diligent, and comes early, and who does not want the Lord to sit alone. In Masséches Beráchos, Rabbi Abhin, son of Rabh Ada says in the name of Rabbi Isaac: God will ask for each one, who makes it a custom always to come, and on one occasion does not come. Therefore the prophet Jesajas said 50.10: Who among you fears the Lord, and listens to the voice of his servant, yet he wanders in darkness, and no light shines for him... This means that if he stays in bed, and does not come to shul, he remains wandering in the darkness.
In front of the synagogue or shul, they have a built-in piece of iron, on which each one has to wipe his shoes if they are dirty. As King Salomon says Ecclesiastes 4.17: Protect your feet whenever you walk to the house of the Lord. The one who has slippers should take them off if they are in bad shape, for fear of soiling the shul, as it is written Exodus 3.6: Take off your shoes from your feet, because the place on which you stand is holy.
You shall go in with great fear and trembling, as though to the palace of a mighty King, and you shall bow with fear, as King David said Psalm 29.2: Bow before the Lord behadras kodesch in the glory or ornamentation of holiness. Do not read "behadras", in the ornamentation, but "Becherdas," in trembling.
When they enter the door [of the synagogue,] they recite several sayings from the Psalms of David, which are good, and not to be despised, if they are said with the right meaning and understanding.
They should not pray as soon as they come in, but they should be still for a while, and meditate who it is they will talk to, who can see into their hearts, and hear their prayers. Then fear will overcome them, and they will be moved to great adoration. In Masseches Beráchos the Rabbis teach: When Rabbi Eliezer was sick, his pupils paid him a visit, and they asked and said: Rabbi, teach us the way to eternal life. He said to them: When you say your prayers, think first before whom you stand, and you will gain eternal life.
Each one should put at least one penny in the poor box, as it is written Psalms 17.15: With justice I shall see your face, that is, with alms, which imply justice.
In this devotion they bow and prostrate themselves towards the ark, or box, in which is the holy book of the law, and say Numbers 24.5: Oh, how good and fine are your huts, Jacob, and your dwellings Israel! I come into your house in the fullness of your goodness. Psalms 5.8 I will bow before your holy temple in fear. Lord, I love the dwelling of your house, and the place where your glory resides. Psalms 26.8 Then they say some more verses from the Psalms of David. After that, they start praying what is written in their prayerbooks. They read in unison. Those who cannot read nevertheless go to Shul, and listen carefully to the prayers of the others, and say Amen to all of them.
To let you know in part what they pray, and how they do it, I will translate into German some of the morning prayers and explain them. The first prayer starts: Adon ólam áscher málach. It is in rhyme, like most of their prayers, and is sung and read standing and in a loud voice. It goes: Lord of the world, who reigned before all things were created, at a time when they were created according to his will, he was called King with his name. After everything is gone, he will still remain King, to whom respect and honor will be given. He was always, he is still, and he will be forever in his beauty. He is alone, there is no one that could be compared with him, or could be placed with him. (With this they deny the divine nature of Christ, and regard him as a bad, common man.) He is without beginning or end; with him is power and dominion. He is my God, and my savior who lives in truth. (Here they scorn our faith that we believe in a savior who died.) He is my rock in my grief, at the time of trouble, at the time of sorrow. He is my refuge, the gift of my share on the day when I call on him. Into your hands I commit my spirit, in my sleep, or while I wake, he is with me, and I will not fear.
After this they repeat a hundred Bráchos or prayers of praise, one after another. They are rather short, and they say them twice every day. The reason for this follows.
The first of these involves washing the hands as described above. If one forgot to say the prayers while washing the hands, it can be repeated now with the whole congregation. After this there follows a short thanksgiving about the miraculous creation of man; in particular that he has made him hollow and full of apertures. If one of these is opened or clogged up, he has to die. After that follows a creed about the resurrection of the dead, and right after that, they give thanks for all kinds of needs and say: Praise to you, O Lord, King of the world, who has given the cock understanding to know the difference between night and day, namely that he should wake up the Jews in them morning so that they can say their morning prayers.
Praise &c. that he has made me an Israelite or Jew, or, as some books say, he has not made me a heathen. (They mean the Christians by this, whom they consider to be faithless, godless people, cursed by God.) A woman has to say: Praise &c. that he made me a Jewess.
Praise &c. that he has not made me a slave. This is also directed against the Christians, whom they consider to be their slaves, who have to do the sowing and plowing and other work, while they sit behind the warm oven, bake pears, drink a cup of wine and say: Ma galus hi! What a prison is this! Namely they have to sit idle with a beaker of good wine in their hand, while the Christians must sweat over their work.
Praise &c. that he did not make me a woman. The women pray here: Praise &c. that he made me according to his will. Here the females are despised because they have no part in the bond of circumcision with which God marked his people, and therefore there is doubt if they belong to God's people along with their husbands.
Praise &c. who lifts up the lowly.
Praise &c. who makes the blind see. This is a thanksgiving they should say as soon as they open their eyes after their sleep.
Praise &c. who lifts up those who are bent down: when they want to get up and get dressed.
Praise &c. who gives clothes to the naked: when they get dressed.
Praise &c. who holds up those who are falling.
Praise &c. who frees the prisoners: these are two thanksgivings, [the literal meaning and also] that God may preserve their strength during their sleep, so that they can move again after they were held prisoners by sleep.
Praise &c. who spread dry land on the water: this he should say when he gets up from bed, and steps on the ground.
Praise &c. who prepares and looks after the steps of man: when he leaves his room.
Praise &c. who takes care of all my needs: when he ties his shoes and fastens his trousers.
Praise &c. who girds Israel with strength: when he puts on his belt, which each Jew has to wear, as stated previously.
Praise &c. who crowned Israel with beauty, when he puts on his hat. Without it he should not leave the room.
Praise &c. who gives strength to the weary. Praise to you God our Lord, King of the world, who takes away the sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyebrows.
After that they say two other prayers, that God may keep them from sins, evil spirits and people, and all bad things. He humbles himself before God, and finds himself guilty, but relies on the mercy of God, and begins a short prayer: Ribbon col haolamim. [Lord of all the worlds…] Soon he comforts himself and reminds himself of the oath which God made when Abraham sacrificed his son and said: Abhal anachnu, But we are your people, the children of your covenant. Our portion is good, sweet is our lot, beautiful is our inheritance, it is good for us who say early and late, evening and morning, twice a day: Hear O Israel, God our Lord is a unity. Gather us, who hope for you, from the four ends of the world; then all the inhabitants of the world will realize and know that you are a single Lord. Our father in heaven, show mercy to us because of your name, which is called and confirmed over us as is written Zeph. 3.20: At that time, I will bring you back; and when I gather you, I shall make your name praised among all the other people of the earth, and I will dissolve your captivity before your eyes, says the Lord.
After that two little prayers follow concerning the laws which have been given to them, and they come from the law concerning the sacrifices. Because they cannot bring sacrifices, and have been driven out of their land, and their temple has been destroyed, now they bring all their sacrifices only with their mouth, and not as they should have done them in reality, and they comfort themselves, albeit unreasonably, with the saying of the prophet Hosea 14.3: we will offer the sacrifice with our lips. After that they give an historical account of the sacrifices, and a prayer Ribbi Ismahel concerning how the Law may be utilized, and in how many ways it can be interpreted. It is based and founded on the Talmud, but is so unclear and hard to understand, that among a hundred Jews there is hardly one who can understand it. But they read it as the nuns read the Psalter.
After that they continue in an undertone, so that nobody can hear what they are saying, a prayer for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem for which they are still waiting with these words: May it be your will, Lord our God, and Lord of our fathers, that the holy house of your temple will be rebuilt soon in our days, and give us our desire in your Law.
After that they get up and they sing another prayer of praise, with great joy, and in a loud voice, in the hope that God will soon start to build and lead them back into their land. Then they sit down and say a long prayer taken from David's psalms, then a piece of the thirtieth chapter of the first book of Chronicles, and finally the last words of the prophet Obadia which says v. 21: Helpers will climb Mount Zion, to judge the mountain of Esau, then there will be the Kingdom of God. These words they sing with great joy and very devoutly, and they hope that the helpers will come soon and climb the mountain of Zion, that is, to take care of the Jews and give them help to judge, that is to ruin and exterminate, the mountain of Esau, that is the Christians and their reign, whom they call the descendants of Esau and Edomites, and the Roman Empire, Malcus Edom. And they hope that they may be able to to go back in the land of milk and honey. I will report later why they call the Christians Edom and Esau. I just want to say this much here, that in their most secret books, on which the Christians do not get their hands, they write and teach that Esau's soul came back in Christ, and that he was just as godless as Esau, and we who believe in him are not any better, and therefore are called Edomites.
Then the singing goes on: And God will be King over the whole world and God will be one unity on that day, his name will be one, as it is written in his law: Hear, Israel, God our God is a single God. This is against the Christian faith, because we give God more than one name, namely the name of Christ.
After this follows a prayer which they call Krías schmáh, [the reading of the passage beginning "Hear!"] taken from the fifth book of Moses, which in Hebrew goes like this Deut. 6.4: Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is a single God. They sing the last word Echad, single, sometimes a half hour or even a whole hour, and they all look up to heaven, and at the last letter Dales, they turn their heads against all four corners and winds of the world, to indicate that God is the Lord and King over the whole world, because that letter represents the number four. The entire passage also contains two hundred and forty five words. Add three more words, namely Hael elohechem émes, God your Lord is true, that makes the number two hundred and forty eight and that is as many bones as there are in a human body, and if you count and say a prayer for each bone then the whole body is protected from evil. The one that says it three times is free from the devil, because it starts with the letter Schin, and ends with Dales, namely (the first verse Schma Iisraël, adonái elohénu adonái échad) which makes the two letters Sched, that is, devil. They consider it a precious and holy prayer through which great miracles happen. They pray it every evening and every morning with much superstition and unbelief. You can read in the Talmud that at a certain time it was prohibited for the Jews to have a school, or exercise their religion openly, or teach it. Rabbi Akibha openly read and studied in their synagogues, and he was imprisoned. He was led from there to be burned, but first they beat his entire body with an iron rod, injuring and torturing him and subjecting him to martyrdom. Nevertheless he remained constant, and kept on praying until the time of day arrived for reciting the Krías chmáh, and he started to say this prayer cheerfully. Finally his pupils said to him: "Dear Rabbi, you have prayed enough, give up now and die obediently." He answered: "All my days I relied on this saying Deut. 6.5: You shall love God with your whole heart and with your whole body. I understand it this way: if they are trying to take your body and heart away from you, you should still love him. Because God wants to demonstrate this on me, should I stop praying, and should I not finish God's prayer to the end?" He continued praying, and he sang the word Echad [one] in that prayer so long and so repeatedly that his soul left his body as he said it. Then a voice was heard from heaven which said: "It is good for you, Rabbi Akibha, that your nesháma, that is, your soul, went out with the word Echad. You are ready lecháje ólam hábba, for eternal life, and you will come into the light of Gan eden, Paradise. Amen, Selah.
Then there is a similar prayer Schmóne esre, "Eighteen," because it contains that many Gratias or praises and thanksgivings. They write a lengthy Tractatus about the sanctity, power and effectiveness of this, and the previously mentioned prayer. Well, I shall leave both of them in their power. The latter prayer is said each day three times, and the cantor in shul sings it aloud twice. [In the evening prayer it is recited silently by the congregation.] They put great faith in it, and hope to gain forgiveness of sin by means of it. They must recite it standing, with their feet together, after the example of the angel, it is written Ezek. 1.7: And their feet stood straight. This is further discussed in R. Alphes chapter 1, and in their German Minhágim and in other books. At a certain place in the prayer Schmóne esre,which they call Kedúscha, when they say the words "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Zebaoth, the whole world is full of his glory," they have to jump up three times, to make them resemble the angels who said this prayer of praise for the first time. Others say, since it is written in the prophet Isaiah 6.4: And the roof shook because of the sound of their voice, it is therefore only right and just for people that they should move and shake because of such angelic praise. The Chachamim and wise men write: Whoever speaks during Schmóne esre gets to eat glowing coals after his death, as it is written in Job 30.4. [RSV renders this obscure verse: they pick mallow and the leaves of bushes, and to warm themselves the roots of broom.] Rabbi Salomon interprets and translates this verse thus. Rabbi Tanchum says in the name of Rabbi Jehoschua: The Chachámim made the eighteen prayers because there are eighteen bones in man's back, all of which should move in the course of this prayer, therefore King David said Ps. 35.10: All my bones shall say, O Lord who is like you?
There follows [in this prayer] a wicked and vicious piece against the Jews who convert to the Christian faith and get baptized, also against the Christians in general and Christian authority. This is carried on orally, the way it was printed in some editions, also in some Polish books in which they print what they want without shyness and fear of the Christians. The ones to be exterminated (that is the baptized Jews and new Christians) should have no more hope, and all the unbelievers, namely the fallen-away Jews, and new Christians and in general all people, but especially the Christians who have a faith different from Jewish belief shall be lost in a moment, and all the enemies who hate you, Lord, shall be exterminated, and the proud and presumptuous kingdom shall be uprooted speedily, broken and finally ruined. This piece is from their new prayerbooks, which was previously omitted, either from fear of, or by command of, the Christian authority against which it was directed. They call such people Malcus Zadon, regnum superbiae ac arrogantiœ, [the kingdom of pride and arrogance] or Rescháhim, the Godless, as is printed in one of the copies belonging to me Anno [15?]64 printed in Venice. Make them servants speedily in our days. Praise to you God, who breaks the wanton, and makes servants of them. This piece they call Birchas hammínim, a prayer against the heretics, because there is a Kelálah or curse against the heretics in this prayer, as may be read in Rabbi Alphes.
By heretics they mean first of all the baptized Jews. They call such a one a Meschummad, one that is exterminated, and in numero plurali, [in the plural number] Meschumadim, the exterminated or damned, namely, if they fall away from the Jewish disbelief they are considered damned. And therefore the prayer starts, Velammeschumadim, that is, and the exterminated and damned fallen away Jews. Later, they substituted for it Velammalschinim, and the traitors. They understand here also the fallen away Jews, whom they call traitors, because they have betrayed the untrue and roguish ways of the Jews to the Christians.
They call the Christians also Minim, heretics, enemies and haters of God, and therefore when they beg God to punish their enemies they mean particularly the Christians.
That they also pray against the Christian authority we can see from Rabbi Bechai, who writes about this prayer: Vbirchas hamminim tikenu ósa laakór málcus harescháah, that is, they made and ordered this prayer against the heretics to extirpate the godless kingdom, that is, the Roman empire and all Christian authority which rules over the Jews. They call the Turkish Empire Malcus Jischmael, Regnum Ismaëlis, because it comes from Ismael. They call the Roman Empire Malcus Edom, Malcus Romi, Malcus Esau, Malcus Hareschaah, Malcus Zadon, the Edomite, the Roman, the Esauish, the godless, the proud, the presumptuous and wanton Kingdom. This is true and clear from their books, as true and clear as there is the sun that gives the light of day. And I will, if God will allow me, demonstrate later more about that. This is the more believable, since it was ordained long after the Schmone esre, the prayer with the eighteen Gratias or thanksgivings was made, and for strange, cunning and bad reasons it was inserted by Rabbi Samuel hakkaton, Rabbi Samuel the small or the short. This was not long after Christ's time - and all who adopted Christ's teaching were hated immensely by the Jews. This Rabbi died before the Second Temple was destroyed, and after the Sanhédrin, or high court, was transfered from Jerusalem to Jafna [=Jamnia, Jabneh], approximately forty years before the destruction. At this time this short Samuel made this curse-prayer in the town of Jafna against all the Jews who joined Christ, and against the Romans who had taken charge of the Jews. If you understand Hebrew, you can read about it in the Jewish chronicle called Sepher Juchasin, page 21, and in the Talmud printed in Venice, in the tractate of the Benedictions [Berakhot] chapter 4, and in tractate Sanhedrin chapter 1.
After this curse-prayer follows a benediction and devout prayer for the wise and pious people among them, and for those who were converted to the Jewish faith, so that other people may be converted to the Jewish faith. They pray also that God may rebuild their temple in their days, and let the branch of David grow and to raise its horn, that is, to send the Messiah and to establish the Kingdom of Israel again.
At the end of their morning prayers, they pray God to keep them in good tranquillity, and they step back three steps when they say these words: May he who makes peace in heaven, make peace over us and all Israel. Amen. If somebody is riding over the fields, then his horse or donkey has to take three steps backwards also. If there is a big crowd, they have to jump up three times in place. They bow down, bowing the head to the left side, then to the right, to indicate that God will give his peace. If he should meet a Christian wearing a cross or religious image, he should not bow, but bow to God in his heart. The three steps backwards are to honor the Lord, because if he takes leave of a noble lord, he steps a few steps backwards, and honors the lord by kissing his hands and inclining his own body. Therefore, when the Jews take leave of God, they step back and greet him face to face so that God may not say: My people have said a long prayer; now they are tired, and turn their backs on me. The wise and learned men say it is done in memory of a miracle which happened on Mount Sinai when God gave his people the commandments. In Masseches Berachos [tractate Berakhot of the Babylonian Talmud] the rabbis dispute over these words Exod 20.15: And all the people saw the thunder and lightning, and heard the sound of the trumpet, and they saw the mountain smoke, and they were afraid so that they trembled and stood far off. And they say that because of their great fright and fear, they were pushed back three miles from Mount Sinai in a moment. But the eminent commentator Rabbi Solomon Jarchi writes in his commentary on this text: They jumped back twelve miles, deriving it from what the prophet David said in his Psalm 68.13: The kings of hosts flee, they stumble. After that the Malache hasscheres, the dutiful good angels came and led the people back to the mountain.
When they are ready to leave the church, [synagogue] they say a secret prayer to themselves which starts: Alenu leschabbéach, It is proper to praise the Lord who is over everything, and to praise heartily the one who has made everything, that he has not made us like the other peoples of the countries, and has not made us like the races of the world, and their portion is not our portion, and our lot is not the lot of their swarm. Here some words are omitted in the new prayer books of the Jews, to comply with the authorities in Italy, where the books were very often printed, because they were offensive to Christians. You can find these words in older copies, like one that I have, printed in Augsburg by a Jewish printer called Chajim in the year of Christ 1534. Otherwise there is a Spatium, [whitespace] half a line left blank, so that children or other ignorant people may be reminded to ask what is missing, and they tell them verbally, or write it in the margin, as I have seen in many of their books. The words are: Schehem córehim umischtáchavim lehébhel várik, umispállelim leél lo joschiah, that is: "They kneel and bow towards vanity and nonsense, and pray to a god who cannot help them. (This refers to the Christians, they spit on the ground when they say this.) But we bow before a King who is the King above all other kings, to the holy and blessed God who has spread the heavens and built the earth; whose honor and kingly seat are in heaven, and whose strength is in the highest heaven. He alone is our God and no other." With this he [the worshipper] comes out of shul and says Psalm 5: Lord God, lead me through your justice, protect me from the one who lies in wait for me, make straight your way before me. Psalm 121.8 God protect my coming in and my going out from now until eternity.
You should walk backwards out of the door, so that you do not show your back towards the holy place in which the book of the law is situated, rather you should show your face towards it, to honor it. The rabbis teach in the Talmud about these words of the prophet Ezechiel 8.16: at the entrance of the temple of the Lord, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east, prostrating themselves to the sun toward the east. A great punishment overtook the priests, and those who left the temple with their backs turned towards it. Therefore you should leave with fear and respect, like a servant before his Lord, backwards and bowing. You should not run out, lest people think that you have tired yourself with prayer, and are glad to get away, but you should walk slowly, with short steps. Then God will number your steps, and repay you bountifully, as it is written Job 14.16: You number my steps and my paths.
If you meet a woman or girl, Jewish or Christian, you should close your eyes tight, or turn your face away from her, and not greet her, so that you have no reason to have a lengthy talk, because you might be tempted to evil thoughts and lust.
In general this is what they write about prayer with devotion: If you want to pray devoutly, you should cover head and heart, and divide the upper part of the body from the lower part with a belt, so that the heart will not see the shameful parts, and turn to evil thoughts and get distracted from prayer.
You should face the land of Canaan and the city of Jerusalem.
You should stand with your feet together, as mentioned before.
You should put your hands on your heart, the right hand on the left, and stand with head bowed humbly, as it is written Lam. 3.41: Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands; Psalm 119.109 I hold my soul in my hand continually.
You should not yawn, or burp, or spit while you pray. If you have to spit out, you should put it quietly in a handkerchief, or behind you, on the left side, but never in front, or on the right hand, because unseen angels are standing there, and you might hit them, which would be a great sin.
You should not touch lice or fleas while you pray.
You should not release gas from your body while praying. Should it happen accidentally, then you should wait until it is dispersed. If you are in great need, you should step aside four paces, release the gas and say: Ribbon haolamim, Lord of all the worlds! You created me, and made me full of apertures which I cannot close up. Our shame is known and open unto you. Our life is full of disgrace, and in our death we are nothing but maggots and worms. They are also accustomed to say: Hammitáttesch bithphilláso milmáttah, siman ráh ló, milmáalah síman jáphe ló, id est, Sternutans in precatione infernè, signum malum ipsi est: supernè autem signum bonum. [Sneezing below during prayer is a bad sign, however sneezing above is a good sign - Buxtorf finds this somewhat indelicate, so he writes it in Latin rather than German.]
You should not interrupt your prayers. Even if a King of Israel greets you, you should not answer him, or if a snake bites you in your heel, you should continue, but you may avoid an angry ox, and stop until it is gone.
You should not touch your naked body, apart from the hands or the neck. If you need to scratch yourself, you should do it with your shirt or clothes on. You should move your whole body back and forth, as it is written Psalm 35.10: All my bones shall say: Lord, who is like unto you?
In some holy prayers the cantor in shul must stand in a low place and pray or read the prayer as high up as he can see. I have seen that the cantor kneel down on the stone floor in front of the reading desk, because there was no lower spot and he recited the prayer as high as he could see from the pulpit.
They say these prayers out of a distressed heart, asking for forgiveness of sin as David said Psalm 130.1: De profundis clamavi ad te Domine, Out of the depths I call to you, Lord.
Most of all, each one should say Amen with all his heart after all the prayers. Therefore it says in the book Tanchuma: Rabbi Jehuda said: everyone who says Amen in this world is worthy to say Amen in the other world. Therefore King David said Psalm 41.14: Praise to the Lord, God of Israel, Amen, Amen: namely Amen once for this world, and once for the other world. The most wise write: Whoever says Amen with great Cavvánah [intention] and devotion brings our redemption closer. Yes, if you say Amen the right way and often, God will shake his head and say: Woe to the children who are driven off from their father's table! But how good the father feels when those children praise him, and with this thought God will save his children. Although God has driven them into misery because of their sins, he still feels sorry for them, and the sorrow of his children is his sorrow. In connection with this, Rabbi Juda brings a parable and says: Just as a mother punishes her disobedient and immoral daughter, who became pregnant by some person, by pushing her away from her and keeps her in great disfavor, yet she feels sorry for her misery, and weeps with her; just so has God cast us into misery because of our sins, but he still feels sorry for us, and he will save us if we entreat him diligently.
It is declared that every day they must recite one hundred Beráchos, Benschen, Benedicite, Gratias benedictions or prayers of thanksgiving. They prove this from the Kabbalah in a clever and subtle manner.
First, from the words of Moses Deut. 10.12: Now Israel, Mah schoel, what does the Lord your God demand of you? Here the most wise ones say: You should not read Mah, what, but Meah, one hundred. So it is as if Moses said: God requires one hundred Benschen from you every day. From where did these clever Kabbalists get such a correction? Answer: Moses himself gave a hint of it, because he put exactly one hundred letters, in this verse in the Hebrew language.
Second, through the Secretum kabalœ, [secret of the Kabbalah] which switches the letters around; namely that the last letter in the alphabet is taken for the first and the next for the last, which is called by the Kabbalists Atbasch, namely Tav and Aleph, Bes and Schin [etc.] are exchanged. Therefore, through this Secretum, instead of the letters Mem and He, which constitute the Hebrew word Mah are two different letters Tzade and Jod, which make the number one hundred also.
Third, you read in the Talmud that the prophet David ordered these Benschen or thanksgivings at a time when a hundred people died every day in Israel,and in remembrance of them these prayers are said. This is demonstrated in good kabbalistic manner through the words written in the second book of Samuel 23.1. It speaks of the man who is hukam Al, highly exalted. In plain German hukam means especially exalted, and Al means high. But according to the kabbalists, and the art of numbering letters, this word, which is written with an Ajin [=70] and a Lamed [=30] represents one hundred, and it refers to the man who has been elevated by one hundred Benschen or prayers of praise. This is taken from the art gallery of Jewish theology into which they do not admit any Goy. More of these artistic pieces will turn up later, so I shall not go further into it, but I shall go on to report how the Jews comport themselves at home after the morning prayers.
God says through the prophet Isaiah 1.15: When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers,I will not hear you. In another place (59.2) the prophet says: Your iniquities divide you and your God from one another, and your sins make him turn his face from you, so that he does not hear.