Part 4: "Divine Service"
Ch. 5: "Prayer"
Unbeknownst to many, there'd once been an august and majestic sanctuary in
ancient Jerusalem that served as the epicenter of our religious life: the
Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple). From it shone the rich, munificent light of
G-d's presence; and the great and colossal drama of universal perfection
played itself out there.
But it was desecrated then destroyed through a series of unholy attacks
(in 70 C.E.), and our people were strewn about as a consequence without it
to inspire us. The gist of what we suffer *to this day*, both materially
and spiritually, is rooted in that gruesome series of events.
A lot could be said of course about all this, but that's beyond the scope
of our concerns here -- except on one level. For the destruction of the
Beit Hamikdash also affected our daily prayers in some very fundamental
ways, as we'll soon see.
Now, everything we've said to here about the most important of our formal
prayers, the Sh'mone Esrei (as well as about Sh'ma Yisroel), has touched
on what we can accomplish while reciting it and what we can draw from it.
We haven't yet discussed the role it plays in the context of our day-to-
day devotions. And, to go back to what we cited above, we also haven't
touched on how it reflects and *substitutes for* the daily service in the
Holy Temple. So we'll take the opportunity in the next chapter to delve
into all that as well as into a lot of other devotional mitzvot.