parasha Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26) 5783
“The L-RD called unto Moses, and spoke unto him out of the tent of meeting, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When any man of you bringeth an offering unto the L-RD.”
– Leviticus 1:2 , JPS 1917 Tanach
Maimonides explains that the institution of the korbanot (offerings) was necessary, because the Israelites were used to the mode of worship of the times. The difference between the offerings of the nations, and those of Israel, was that Israel’s offerings were to be made only to the One True G-d. Even so, the korbanot (offerings) were meant to be a transitional step towards the ultimate mode of avodah (worship) – prayer.
For, “it is, namely, impossible to go suddenly from one extreme to the other: it is therefore according to the nature of man impossible for him suddenly to discontinue everything to which he has been accustomed” (Maimonides, guide for the Perplexed, Part 3, Ch. 32, wikipedia.com). To have gone directly to the avodah (service) of the heart, in other words, “heartfelt prayer,” after leaving Egypt would have been an impossibility.