Why was the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem such a pivotal point in Jewish history? How did Judaism adapt its worship and rituals to a time when it no longer has a temple or a priesthood? What innovations or new elements of Judaism were instituted in the post-Temple period and why?

The Second Temple in Jerusalem had been the center of Jewish worship. Its destruction left a void that had to be filled if Judaism were to continue. Like much of the ancient world, religion centered around sacrifice, and the Temple was the site of sacrificial worship. With its destruction, Judaism had to adapt its rituals. Ultimately, prayer developed to replace sacrifice. Judaism constructed prayer rituals to offer thanks to G-d, in much the same way that sacrifices had before.

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The destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem was a pivotal point in Jewish history because it not only started the diaspora as Romans forced Jews to leave Jerusalem, but the Temple had been the center of Jewish worship. Without the Temple and priests, Judaism had to adapt its systems...

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The destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem was a pivotal point in Jewish history because it not only started the diaspora as Romans forced Jews to leave Jerusalem, but the Temple had been the center of Jewish worship. Without the Temple and priests, Judaism had to adapt its systems of rituals. The biggest adaptation was replacing sacrifice, which was central to Jewish worship at the time, as it was throughout most of the ancient world in that part of the world. A key difference, however, between Judaism and other religions in the Ancient World was that sacrifices were conducted only at the Temple in Judaism, while other religions generally had multiple sacrificial sites.

The Temple was therefore the center of worship and focus. Each year, Jews were required to make pilgrimage to the Temple on the holiest holidays and bring with them items to sacrifice. The sacrifice was required to reflect the financial capability or wealth of the person making the pilgrimage and offering sacrifice. For instance, a wealthy landowner was required to bring an animal that was valuable, perhaps a cow as an example, but a poor person who could not afford to part with a cow could bring wheat to the Temple and the priests would offer up the wheat in sacrifice. Following the sacrifice, the pilgrims and the priests would partake in the sacrificial offering.

Without the Temple to conduct sacrifices, Judaism had to find a foundational way to maintain worship and to replace the system and ritual that had accompanied the act of sacrifice. What developed over time was a system of prayer. Following the destruction of the Temple, commemorated each year on the Jewish calendar, Judaism constructed prayer rituals to offer thanks to G-d, in much the same way that sacrifices had before. Prayer ritual also includes supplication to and praise of G-d.

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