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What Was the Role of the Temple for Ancient Judaism?

25 Apr 2017Other Essays

There are two kinds of Judaism, one that existed Before Christ and the other was After Christ. The first which existed Before Christ was the Judaism practiced by Abraham, Moses, David and Isaiah. This was the ancient Judaism, which had altar, sacrifices, priests and temple. The After Christ Judaism on the other hand is the Judaism that is practiced today. They have synagogues, rabbis or teachers and they have no sacrifices, no altar, no priests and no temple.

Latter day Jews, reform and conservative, refer to their synagogue as temple. Traditional Jews, however take offense. They claim that historically, the Temple of Jerusalem is the only temple of Judaism. For them calling the synagogue as temple is very inaccurate. A synagogue, according to the Jews, is a house for meeting, which is both:
(1) a center for worship, study, and social work of a community, and (2) a place to gather.

In Jerusalem, The Temple was the center of worship, where sacrifices and religious ceremonies were done. This was since the time of Solomon until its partial destruction by the Romans during the Babylonian Exile. The Temple was rebuilt and became known as the Second Temple. The Wailing Wall, were remains of the original wall on the western side, so the Jews refer to it as the Western Wall or the Kotel to the Hebrews. The Temple is also where the

Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa, the Muslim’s shrine for pilgrims and house of prayer respectively. It is the belief of the traditional Jews that The Temple will be rebuilt on the Messiah’s (Moshiach’s) coming, which they hope and pray for with great anticipation.

The modern Jews are against The Temple’s rebuilding and practicing sacrifices again. For them the temples are their houses of prayer and those are sufficient for their worship, like the Temple in Jerusalem. This is a source of conflict between the traditional and modern Jews. For the modern Jews, temples are places of worship like their synagogues. For the traditional it is the center of worship, and there is only one Temple.

References:

  • Rich, Tracey R. (1995-2001). The Temple. Retrieved January 31, 2007, from http://www.jewfaq.org/shul.htm
  • Judaism 101: Synagogues, Shuls and Temples. 

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