Having studied the Book of Leveticus – the first few chapters teach that the way to God is by sacrifice. They set forth the sacrificial system as the foundation of holy fellowship between God and His people. My question for you is – does animal sacrifice still play a role in worship today, as it did in Biblical times. If not, when was the sacrificial system abolished? What has taken it’s place? Thank you in advance.
The Talmud teaches that after the sacrifices were abolished, in the time of the destruction of the second Temple (70 AD), prayer took its place. The three prayers of Judaism correspond to three different parts of the sacrificial order, the morning sacrifice, the afternoon offering, and the service of the night.
The fellowship between God and His nation was manifest in the sacrifices, as you rightly note, but it remained extant even when the service was discontinued, and prayer, which is an act of relationship between man and God, gives expression to the unique and profound connection. In the times of the Temple, the connection would be revealed by the miracles of the Temple, and by the revealed Presence therein. Today, that revelation remains abesnt — may it speedily return — but the essential relationship remains, and our prayers give it expression.
Prayer, in this light, means far more than merely expressing our needs and wishes (which God knows about in any case). It is the manifestation of the connection between Hashem and His people, the expression that all we have is from God, and that we are entirely dependant on Him and on the unique connection between Him and His nation.