||Collection of Lurianic kabbalistic prayers, particularly for tikkun hazot (midnight prayers) by R. Nathan Nata Hannover, (d. 1683). The title is from, “The Lord loves the gates of Zion (sha’arei Ziyyon) more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (Psalms 87:2). The title page states that it is with Hebrew taitsch, that is, below the Hebrew text is a Yiddish translation for some of the prayers. The title page describes R. Hannover as the kabbalist R. Nathan Nata ben the holy R. Moses, may God avenge his blood, Ashenazi, student of the R. Hayyim Vital, the foremost student of the Godly R. Isaac Luria, with additions. Incouded are Tikkun Seudah and Sefer Yezirah. Sha’arei Ziyyon is primarily a compilation of existing prayers assembled into one work. Prayers such as Ribbono shel Olam, recited prior to the removal of the Torah from the Ark and the Yehi Ratzon after the priestly blessing, are taken from Sha’arei Ziyyon. The popularity of Sha’arei Ziyyon is such that it has been described as, “one of the most widely read books in the Jewish world.”
R. Nathan Nata Hannover (d. 1683), preacher, kabbalist, lexicographer, and chronicler. During the Chmielnicki massacres which started at the end of 1648, he had to leave his birthplace in Volhynia and he wandered through Poland, Germany, and Holland for several years. His sermons, delivered during those years of wandering, were compiled into a book covering the entire Pentateuch. In 1653 he went to Italy. In the same year in Venice, he published Yeven Mezulah ("Miry Pit"), dealing with the Chmielnicki persecutions. He associated with the great kabbalists of the period: R. Samuel Aboab and R. Moses Zacuto of Italy; and those who had come from Erez Israel - R. Hayyim Cohen, Nathan Shapira, and Benjamin ha-Levi of Safed. He studied the Kabbalah doctrines of the school of R. Isaac Luria for a number of years and enjoyed the munificence of patrons in Leghorn in 1654 and in Venice in 1655–56.
In 1660 in Prague, R. Hannover published Safah Berurah ("Clear Language"), a Hebrew-German-Latin-Italian conversation lexicon, text, and guidebook for travelers, and in 1662, Sha'arei Ziyyon ("The Gates of Zion"), a collection of prayers for tikkun hazot ("midnight prayers"), and for other kabbalistic rituals of the Lurianic school. These two books were the result of his studies in Italy. In 1662, he was appointed president of the bet din and head of the yeshivah in Jassy, Walachia, which was then a Turkish province. He was still in Jassy in 1666, the "year of redemption," when the Messiah was due according to the beliefs of the Shabbatean movement. He is mentioned among those who wrote to Lithuania to announce the event. He spent about ten years in Jassy and, according to tradition, in Pascani too. He then moved to Ungarisch Brod, Moravia, on the Hungarian border, where he was preacher and religious judge. He was killed, while praying with the community, by Turkish soldiers who raided the town.
R. Hannover was a prolific writer, but most of his works, sermons and writings on the Kabbalah, were lost. Apart from the sermon Ta'amei Sukkah, printed in Amsterdam, 1652, and a kabbalistic writing on Purim, preserved in manuscript, only the three books published in his lifetime are extant. The subject matter and the style of these works are diverse, yet each had considerable influence for a long time. The prayer book, Sha'arei Ziyyon, was reprinted over 50 times, chiefly in Italy, Holland, and Central and Eastern Europe. The book served as a channel for introducing into the ordinary prayer book certain elements of the Lurianic Kabbalah, such as the Berikh Shemei prayer. Safah Berurah also had several editions, being published both under its own title and other titles in its original form and in a modified version. Up to the 19th century, it was used for the study of foreign languages in Central and Eastern Europe. It is still an important source for research into the Yiddish and the Hebrew used in the author's time.
The small book Yeven Mezulah, on the Chmielnicki pogroms of 1648–52, has relatively few personal experiences of the author. It is mainly based on eyewitness accounts of others and hearsay evidence (including information Hannover found in print). This was the manner of writing of chroniclers of the period. Hannover's broader vision, lucid language, and simple and graceful manner of relating events gave the book an appeal it still retains. Among the Ashkenazi Jews, it was reprinted in the original version and in Yiddish translation, in almost every generation (including Hebrew edition, 1945; Yiddish edition, 1938), It was translated into French (1855), German (1863), Russian (1878), Polish (1912), and English (Abyss of Despair, 1950). The book has also been a source of information on the massacres of the Chmielnicki period to modern writers and poets like S. Asch and Minsky. Some historians have followed the narrative uncritically, without submitting it to historical analysis.