Leor Jacobi: Prayer of Nehunaya ben Haqanna without Psalm 55:24

The prayer of R. Nehunya ben HaQanna, recited upon entering the house of study as found in all versions of Bavli Brachoth 27b does not include the ending verse found in many prayerbooks and in the Hadaran recited at the conclusion of a Talmudic Tractate or Mishnaic Order: Psalms 55:24. שנאמר וְאַתָּה אֱלוהִים תּוֹרִדֵם לִבְאֵר שַׁחַת אַנְשֵׁי דָמִים וּמִרְמָה לֹא יֶחֱצוּ יְמֵיהֶם וַאֲנִי אֶבְטַח בָּךְ No medieval sources quote the verse in conjunction with the prayer. The inappropriate vitriolity of the verse in the context of this prayer has been pointed out by Torah giants such as Rav Kook (end of Ginzei Qedem, Vol. 1) and the Munkatch Rebbe (Divrei Torah, Mahadura 5, end of paragraph 60). The earliest known source for the inclusion of the verse is in printed versions of Hilchoth Alfasi (RIF). No manuscript versions contain the verse! However, one manuscript, Oxford Huntington 135 contains a reference to a different verse in a marginal note, the verse cited in the version of the prayer in Yershalmi Brachoth: Psalms 16:10 . It goes without saying that this verse is most appropriate in the context of the prayer. It seems likely that the printers of RIF, unfamiliar with the traditions of the Talmud Yerushalmi, substituted a more familiar verse, perhaps by habit ("ashagra D'Lishna") from Pirqei Avoth, chapter 5, describing Be'er Shahath, the destination of the students of the wicked Bila'am. Both locations share the common connecting words: שנאמר, באר שחת Thanks to Ezra Chwat, Moshe Bloi, and Shamma Friedman for their valuable assistance. gmb 015