Prayer in Temple Times

Real questions, submitted by actual OU Torah followers, with their real answers. NOTE: For questions of practical halacha, please consult your own rabbi for guidance.

Q. How did the Jews daven while the Beis HaMikdash stood? Clearly not everyone brought korbanos every day.

A. Thanks for your question. Prayer has always existed. Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses all brought sacrifices but they also prayed. So, yes, our daily prayer services serve as replacements for the absent sacrifices but there were also prayers when sacrifices were offered. (It might interest you to know that there was a synagogue on the Temple Mount as part of the Beit HaMikdash complex.) 

Some prayers, like Shema, are in the Torah and were recited since the Torah was given. The obligation to bentch is in the Torah and the text we use was written in stages, parts by Moshe, Yehoshua, Dovid and Shlomo.

Originally, people composed their own prayers. The Shemoneh Esrei was composed by the Men of the Great Assembly at the end of the Biblical period – again, while the Temple was standing – and standardized about 400 years later. So prayer and sacrifices definitely co-existed.

I hope this clarifies things for you!

Rabbi Jack's latest book, Ask Rabbi Jack, is now available from Kodesh Press and on