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Prayer Skills: Mabit: Beginnings

The 23rd of Nisan is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Moshe (ben Yosef) MiTrani, the Mabit. From the time of Moses until the Great Assembly, the Divine Presence was revealed where sacrifice was offered, and prophecy still existed in Israel. The prayers and blessings of each individual were heard by God.


In my opinion, this is the reason why we did not gather morning, afternoon and evening, in a special place to pray during those times, but each one prayed alone, whereever he happened to be. It is for this reason that in the entire Bible we do not find any mention of congregational prayer. It was only after the destruction of the Temple that the Great Assembly composed the Eighteen Blessings, as well as sanctifications that require a minimum of 10 men.

Moses may have ordained that the Torah be read each Monday and Thursday, and this is among the things that required 10 men. Still, there was no standard order of prayer for all, and each one would pray in his own words. And therefore it appears that each individual would pray by himself in a place that he set aside, and his prayer was acceptable as that of a congregation. This was because the Divine Presence was revealed in the place of sacrifice.

It is possible that even from the time of Moses people would congregate in synagogues to hear the Torah reading. At such times, they may also have prayed to gather as a congregation, each in his own words. But there was no reader’s repetition, and no special form, since each individual knew exactly how to pray for what he needed. (Rabbi Moshe of Trani, Beit Elokim: Yesodot 38)

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