Hello. What do rishonim and even Chazal say about the halachic matter of kapara without the activity of the Kohen Gadol in the Beis Hamikdash on Yom Kippur? I am aware of the general concept of prayers replacing sacrifices, but specifically, what is the effect of not having the kapara through the avoda of the Kohen Gadol? Do we have anything in the Oral Law that indicates the alternative (as we do in the matter of the calendar through cheshbon instead of testimony)? Thank you.
You are asking an interesting and important question. The gemora Brachos 26b says that the tefillos are instead of the korbanos, and many halachos in Shulchan Aruch revolve around this concept, such as washing our hands before praying, similar to the kohanim washing thier hands before doing avoda. The sanctity of the Bais Hakneses, which is considered a Mikdash Me’at (a mini Bais Hamikdash). The actual prayers, shacharis and mincha for the two daily sacrifices, and Mussaf on Shabbos and Yom Tov, whenever there was a Korban Mussaf brought in the Bais Hamikdash etc.
Regarding the actual difference between the two, aside from the fact that if the level of kapara is less, then we are subject to the negative effects of the aveiros that were done. When we daven nowadays there is definitely a level of kapara, but it isn’t on the same level as it was in the Bais Hamikdash. When we had the Bais Hamikdash, and when one came there he could feel the sense of kedusha that it had. He saw the miracles that happened daily, the pillar of smoke that didn’t move in the wind, and the other nine miracles that happened daily, the awe striking appearance of being in the presence of the Bais Hamikdash, seeing the devout kohanim, the Kohen gadol, the Sanhedrin, all contributed to the tremendous feeling of devotion. Therefore when he brought his korban, he had a feeling that he is really the one that should be sacrificed on the alter. When he did shechita, he felt that this is what really should have happened to him, and the same with each avoda that was done. This made a tremendously close feeling to H-shem while the korban was brought, and it brought a high level of kapara. Unfortunately nowadays we try our best to daven and concentrate, but the level of connection and devotion is not comparable. This is why the teffilos of Yom Kippur (during Mussaf) are full of lamenting over the loss of the Bais Hamikdash. On the other hand, as of right now teffiloh is the alternative to the Korbanos and other avodas that were done, then and we pray that we should be able to attain the old, lost level of attachment, closeness and devotion that we once had.
Have a gmar chasima tova, and a meaningful Yom Kippur