Thanks to Chet Lockett for helping establish contact with Clyde Lott. We publish Chet's brief review of Rabbi Chiam Richman's book titled "The Mysteries of The Red Heifer" subtitled the divine promise of purity. Chet says "Why the scarlet color...? Very simply the color is to remind us "of the blood of Messiah Yeshua." And that by the shedding of Yeshua's blood only there is forgiveness of sin. There is no magical symbolism here. Magic is of HaSatan and demonic. The mysticism (the Spiritual) of Scripture represented by the Parah Adumah is Kodesh (holy) and therefore of Adonai - G-d."
It was an error to report that Clyde Lott had shipped the first of possibly 150 red heifers, with the best American genetic engineering, to be red tip of nose to tip of tail, born in Israel, began turning 3 years old in September of 1996. I have now been able to speak to Clyde Lott directly. Although that story had been widely reported by many credible sources, it is not true. According to Clyde Lott the most accurate red heifer story published was the May 26, 1997, Jerusalem Post, Feature article by Jeremy Shere, titled "A Very Holy Cow." I would recommend this story to anyone desiring to know the facts about red heifers in Israel.
Rabbi Chiam Richman, of the Temple Institute, in Israel, has written an excellent book on the significance of the red heifers in particular, and the temple and purification in general. There is a one hour Real Audio of Rabbi Richman which may be found at http://www.templemount.org/audio/richman.ram . The veil of confusion remains over the Jewish people regarding the Messiah. Rabbi Richman tells us that the Jews are looking for someone who is a descendent of David, facilitates the regathering of Jews to their land, helps in the rebuilding of the temple, and is a master teacher of new revelation and leads into new awareness. We know the prince antichrist, can do these things. He has the genealogy proving him to be a son of David of the tribe of Judah, and that he has been the man behind the scenes of the 7 year peace and safety agreement. As one of the world's leading occultists who will be indwelt by Satan to counterfeit the resurrection of the true messiah, he would be the master teacher of the new age.
Rabbi Richman explains that the building of the temple is one of the 613 commandments. The commandment to build the temple is derived from Exo 15:17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. The return of the Jews to Israel is causing many to seriously consider this command to rebuild the temple. The exact location of the altar must be known. That is why measurements are made. The altar must be operational before any stones may be placed in the foundation of the Temple (see Ezra 3:6). Most of the obstacles to building the temple are political. The Temple Institute is preparing the required temple vessels. This is the first part of the temple building process, according to Rabbi Richman.
Those who know Messiah, Yeshua, should understand the "red heifer" scriptures in Numbers 19, represented a "type" of Messiah. For the sacrifice of the "red heifer" was a forerunner to the ultimate sacrifice of Messiah which could do so much more than "purify the flesh". Remember that the red heifer was to be "without spot" (Num 19:2). Compare this with the following passage written by Paul in the book of Hebrews; he explains it well:
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
August 11,1997 (8th of AV) UPDATE by Chet Lockett
It has taken some time to cut through the morass and misinformation and conjecture regarding the Kosher qualification of Melody. The source of the following information is directly from Rabbi Ariel [who IS the Temple Institute and supreme leading authority] and Rabbi Schorr the caretaker of Melody and also a major leading authority on Melody according to rabbi Ariel. In the future these two men will be the foundation of any reports regarding Melody [and of course the Mishnah], as they should be for you.
For accuracy of information - any and all news items you have regarding Melody where rabbi Ariel and rabbi Schorr are quoted you may regard that report as "the highest" authority. You will find their quotes on Melody initially when the news of her appeared. They were buried in the morass; their quotes overshadowed by the sensationalism and fervor of the miracle birth of Melody.
The miracle birth of Melody in no way affects the efforts of Clyde Lott, rabbi Chiam Richman, and "Daisy", the first Red Heifer created outside Israel.
MELODY IS KOSHER AND QUALIFIED AS OF THIS MOMENT AS A CANDIDATE FOR THE RED HEIFER SACRIFICE. SHE HAS BEEN QUALIFIED SINCE BIRTH. THE WHITE HAIRS OF HER TAIL PROTRUDE FROM RED ROOTS QUALIFYING HER ACCORDING TO RABBI ARIEL, RABBI SCHORR [AND THE MISHNAH]. THE WHITE COLORATION IN HER SKIN UNDER HER EYE IS RINGWORM WHICH IS TREATABLE WITH MEDICATION LEAVING HER WITH NO SPOT OR BLEMISH AND QUALIFIED [AS SHE HAS ALWAYS BEEN]. MELODY IS OF A REDDISH BROWN COLOR WHICH THESE RABBIS SAY IS ACCEPTABLE. MELODY WAS BORN AUGUST 1996 [ELUL 5756]. PRESENTLY MELODY IS QUALIFIED AND BARRING ANY UNFORSEEN DISQUALIFICATIONS MELODY WILL BE READY FOR SACRIFICE AUGUST 1998 [ELUL 5758]. MELODY'S PARENTS ARE A HOLSTEIN COW AND A DUN BULL [AND A MIRACLE TO PRODUCE A RED CALF]. RABBI ARIEL HAS FOUND MELODY IN HER CURRENT STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT TO MEET ALL REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS AS A RED HEIFER CALF. WHEN SHE IS THREE YEARS OF AGE AUGUST 1998 [ELUL 5758] SHE WILL AT THAT TIME BE A FULL GROWN RED HEIFER. SHE NOW WEIGHS APPROXIMATELY 700-800 POUNDS. HER FULL WEIGHT POTENTIAL IS OVER 1500 POUNDS. MELODY'S BIRTH IS SEEN BY RABBI ARIEL AND RABBI SCHORR [AS WELL AS OTHER] AS A MIRACLE AND A SIGN TO BEGAN TEMPLE SERVICE [AVODAH] [AND OF DANIEL] AND TO BEGAN REBUILDING THE THIRD TEMPLE.
Points of Biblical interest regarding Melody [Numbers 19 and Mishnah Parah]:
She is currently still a calf and not a full grown Parah Adumah or red heifer.
[ A miracle] Elul 24 according to Haggai 1:15 is the day of her sacrifice. The Parah Adumah has not been seen in Israel for over 1900 years. Melody has the potential of being the TENTH sacrificed in Israel since Moses who by G-D's Command initiated the first Purification ceremony of the Red Heifer. Rabban Maimonides, who codified the Torah, prophesied that the Messiah would sacrifice the tenth Parah Adumah in human history [at his coming]. Ezra 3:6 a continuation of Haggai and the Temple building explains that six days after Elul 24 which is Tishri 1 [Rosh Hashanah and Messiah's Coronation] the Avodah or Temple Services will begin. Elul 5758 to Tishri 1, 5759 is six days. MELODY CURRENTLY HAS THE POTENTIAL OF BEING THE RED HEIFER CANDIDATE NEXT YEAR [ELUL 5758 OR AUGUST 1998].
The Avodah will be small initially. Initially, the Temple is not required only the Altar [Ezra 3:1-6] and the officiating priesthood which will be minimal. I am strongly led to believe that the officiating priesthood "quite possibly exists" as we speak. This validates previous reliable reports.
Many non-Jews and Christianity have many problems with Ritual Purification. Most commonly due to ignorance of the Ways of G-D. Ritual Purification does not make one Righteous. Righteousness is obtained only through Faith in Yeshua HaMasiach [Jesus Christ]. Why do we ritually purify ourselves with the ashes of the red heifer? First, because G-D said to do it. "It [ritual purification] spiritually aids us in conveying a message of what has occurred in our lives. It does not make one clean from death, it is a ceremony that illustrates cleanliness from death. We are all ritually unclean having what is called "Corpse Uncleanliness" [Joesph Good, 1997]. Was Yeshua unclean? Yes! From time to time He touches corpses. Is uncleanliness sin? No! Yeshua never sinned. Uncleanliness is not sin!
However, G-D demands and commands, therefore, that; (1) we [Jew and Gentile] must be ritually clean before we [Jew and Gentile] can WORSHIP G-D at the Temple in Jerusalem [and spiritually in the Heavenly Jerusalem in Glorified bodies]; (2) Certainly a priesthood has to be ritually clean before they can minister in the Temple in Jerusalem; (3) The workmen must be ritually clean before they can build the Temple in Jerusalem. THE PHYSICAL RITUAL OF PURIFICATION IS THE G-D COMMANDED REHEARSAL FOR SPIRITUAL PURIFICATION REQUIRED TO BE IN THE PRESENCE OF EL SHADDAI [ALMIGHTY G-D] HIMSELF. G-D WILL NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING LESS. WE [ARE COMMANDED TO] WORSHIP G-D "IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH". RITUAL PURIFICATION COMMANDED BY G-D IS THE OBEDIENT PHYSICAL HUMAN EXPRESSION OF THE ETERNALLY SPIRITUAL EXPRESSION. G-D IS PURE [CLEAN] SPIRIT, James 1:26,27.
Adonai Bless you and keep you. Adonai allow Yeshua to aid you and be gracious to you. Adonai bestow His Shalom Yeshua on you.
16, 1997: Review of "Mysteries of the Red Heifer" by
"...In the context of the temple [in Jerusalem], purity and impurity are
not mere words, but vast concepts. [Purity and impurity] defy literal
translation because this purity or its lacking has no connection with
physical cleanliness. Purity is a spiritual, ethereal state; a unique
Biblical law [Torah Commandment]. To be impure in this states is most
certainly to be "unclean" in a sense, yet it is not rooted in the realm
of hygiene or the like at all--for [impurity] is not a physical state,
but a condition of the soul; a spiritual lacking..." (pg. 14,
"Understanding The Concept of Biblical Purity", from The Mystery of The
Red Heifer by Chiam Richman).
The ceremony of the Red Heifer is a purification or cleansing ceremony.
G-D is approachable in the pure state. He demands it. Purification is
a ceremonial process by which "things" are made holy that one may
approach G-D Who is holy. For this purpose are the ashes of the Red
Heifer to be used. The physical ashes of the Red Heifer according to
G-D have the ability to make a thing or person ceremonially pure or
The opposite of purity is impurity. Everything is impure until
"cleansed" with the purifying ashes of the Red Heifer. In the impure
state a thing cannot approach G-D. The ashes of the Red Heifer "purify"
by making a thing ceremonially clean as commanded by G-D. Only by the
ashes of the Red Heifer can G-D's Holy Temple which is a House of Prayer
be approached to obtain Spiritual Purity through prayer.
The Purification by the Red Heifer
By Charles Ryalls
The purification by the Red Heifer is a subject that has been a mystery
even to the Jews who were given this ritual to perform. It has been
understood by the Jewish Rabbis in the sense of an act of obedience. In
other words do these things and do it in this way and your cleansing can
be assumed. But from the perspective of the church there may be a little
more insight that is not apparent to the Rabbis. Lets look first at the
ritual and see if we can understand some of this mystery.
NUM 19:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron:  "This is a requirement
of the law that the LORD has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you
a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a
yoke.  Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the
camp and slaughtered in his presence.  Then Eleazar the priest is to
take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward
the front of the Tent of Meeting.  While he watches, the heifer is to
be burned--its hide, flesh, blood and offal.  The priest is to take
some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning
heifer.  After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe
himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially
unclean till evening.  The man who burns it must also wash his clothes
and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.
The Red Heifer is a type of Yeshua. This is why it remains to this day
a mystery to the Jews, because they are blinded for a time to the things
concerning Messiah. The Red Heifer symbolizes a rare find. In order for
a cow to qualify, it must be perfect, without blemish, and must be
totally red. There can be no white hairs at the time it is to be slaughtered
Yeshua is that kind of rare find, that bit of the miraculous that only comes
around in life once. He is Gods Grace, and forgiveness made manifest as man.
It is to be a cow that has never been yoked; This can be seen as
having never been put to other service such as the priesthood, or can
symbolize having never been married, and both would apply to Yeshua.
The Heifer was not a sacrifice in the sense of a blood covering for
sin, but was a means or a process that was to bring a cleansing from
defilement, or sin. It wasn't a substitutional sacrifice like the male goat of
Yom Kippur, but a day by day cleansing as needed. It was a cow and not
a bull. I believe this speaks of the continuous access of this cleansing,
like a mother who is always close at hand to her children, as opposed to
the father who is often times away from the children as required by his
The cow was taken outside the camp to be slaughtered. Yeshua also was
taken outside the city, to Golgatha to be slaughtered. The actual killing
of the heifer was carried out by Priests of the second order. Eleazar was
the son of Aaron, who was then the high priest. It is much like the time
of Yeshua, when the chief priest and Pharisee's sought His death and it
was approve of by Caiaphas, the high priest. Yet it was the Romans who
served as the workers to do the actual slaughter. This slaughter is to
take place outside the camp. Yet there is still a unbreakable connection
to the throne of God as Eleazar was to take a small amount of the blood
and with his fingers and sprinkle it toward the tent of meeting, the holy
place. Seven times because this is Gods seal. Anything that is done seven
times is a permanently fixed thing, that can not be broken. It speaks of
finality. Think of Joshua and the seven days of marching around Jericho,
and the seven blasts on the trumpet, in Revelation the seven seals, seven
trumpets and seven bowls. So here the priest makes the binding
connection to the place of God's presence, the tent of meeting. Yet some of
the blood will be lost, spilled on the ground.
The heifer itself will be burned in it's entirety. It will not be separated
out or the hide removed or the fat separated or anything like this. It's
bones are not broken, it is burned all at once. Yeshua went as he was,
having been inspected for days by the priests and the teachers of the
law, and they could find no flaw in Him, yet they killed Him. It was like
those priest that inspected the red cow for any sign of defect or any white
hairs. And like the Heifer he became a cleansing for us all. The slaughter
of the cow and it's burning are a picture of the death and burial of
Yeshua. They were to take Cedar, probably red cedar, Hyssop, and red stuff,
probably red wool and throw it onto the heifer when it was burning. These items
refer to the cleaning; aspect of the ashes that were to be produced
from this cow. The sort of paint brush that was made to sprinkle the
people or item to be cleaned, was made from hyssop tied with red wool to a cedar
handle. Hyssop was used to spread the lambs blood on the door posts in
the exodus. So these items added to the fire are ritual, (not magic) that
speak of the sprinkling of purification.
NUM 19:9 "A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer
and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They shall
be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it
is for purification from sin.
It was Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus who had come secretly to the
Lord, who then were to deliver the Lords body to its resting place, in
an undefiled tomb in which no man had even been laid. They themselves
would become unclean and unable to eat the Passover Meal. if they had not
already done so, as Yeshua and his followers had.
The priest and the worker who burn the heifer are considered unclean.
They must wash themselves and their cloths in water, and they still
remain ceremonially unclean until the end of the day. Yet those who
are sprinkled with this same ash will be considered clean. It is interesting
that for a Jew, if you touch, or embrace Yeshua, you have become unclean,
yet we know that when Yeshua touches you, you become pure. He is that one
grace that saves us from our uncleanness, not once a year, but in our
daily walk with the Lord.
Lets look at how these ashes of the heifer might be used. Contact with
the dead would defile a person. If your relative died, whether by sword
or by natural causes you needed to prepare their bodies and bury them.
Yet by doing so you became unclean. If you were in a room that had a
container with the remains of the dead in it and the container was opened, then
everyone in the room was defiled and would also need purification. These ashes,
which were ceremonially mixed with water, would be that which would
If you failed to follow this ritual and get cleansed, not only did you
remain unclean and tainted by sin, but the holy sanctuary was also
considered unclean and there was a risk of driving the Lord's presence
from among the people. So this is a picture of God's daily grace to us, that
cleanses us from our unrighteousness each time we become defiled. Unlike
Yom Kippur which is once a year and is a picture of our repentance and
God's salvation. The Red Heifer is a picture of Sanctification and purification.
Heb 10:  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full
assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty
conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
1JN 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the
truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
So Yeshua cleanses us every day so that we can enter once again into
His presence, and not be considered ceremonially unclean. For He cleanses
us by sprinkling our hearts, to wash us of our defilement. He does this
so that we can serve Him. This is the Grace of God that is always
available to us.
HEB 9:13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer
sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that
they are outwardly clean.  How much more, then, will the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,* so that we may serve the
Another aspect of this cleansing was the timing of the rituals. It was
to be done on specific days. This too has been a mystery even to the Jews
who practiced it. But it was adhered to in obedience without understanding,
because failure to do so defiled not only the person but also the Tabernacle.
NUM 19:11 "Whoever touches the dead body of anyone will be unclean
for seven days.  He must purify himself with the water on the third
day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not
purify himself on the third and seventh days, he will not be clean.  Whoever
touches the dead body of anyone and fails to purify himself defiles the
LORD's tabernacle. That person must be cut off from Israel. Because the
water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean; his
uncleanness remains on him.
Here is what I see in this as it applies to us today. We as believers
in Yeshua are continually going through the process of sanctification for
the purpose of being able to serve Him. We can not be unclean and serve.
There is a process that begins when we are Born again. Part of the
ceremony of the Red Heifer is mixing the ashes with water and the water then is
used to wash away the defilement or sin. This is like our own water
baptism, that washes away our sins. Yet baptism is part of the law and deals more
with outward things than inner things and the spirit. The law says "You
shall not Kill" but Yeshua says that if you have anger in your heart
towards someone you have killed them in your heart and are guilty of
murder. So the things that Yeshua brought are deeper and cut to the bone even to
the marrow, the center of the bone. So we must be cleansed in a deeper
way. We must have our very nature changed. We must be born again, this
time born of the spirit. When we are born again, we have a little problem,
because we are still daily in contact with a dead body, our own and are
defiled. We say that our flesh has been crucified with Yeshua on
the cross, but we all know that it still has it's effect on us, because
we are stuck in this thing.
ROM 7:21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is
right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God's law;
 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war
against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at
work within my members.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue
me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ
When will we see the final victory over this body and it's power of
sin and death? In the resurrection or for those who remain alive, in the
Rapture when we are changed in a moment of time.
ROM 6:5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we
will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
1CO 15:42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body
that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown
in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised
in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body..
 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will
all be changed--  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
(did you notice LAST) trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead
will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable
must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
This process began for us when the Holy spirit was given to us, when
we were born again, and it will be completed when we are at last
delivered from the confines of this sinful and faulted flesh, the body of sin. The
Lord does this in stages. We accept Him as savior, and are baptized like
the washing with the water and ashes. He gives us the Holy Spirit to help
us in our walk in this life. And then the resurrection will deliver us
from the body of sin and liberate us totally in the Spirit.
So in baptism we each have a type of death experience and a washing
ceremony. Then we have a Pentecost experience where the Holy Spirit is
poured out on our lives to begin the actual work of purification or
sanctification, and then the Rapture or Resurrection experience, which
is yet to come. We can see in the ritual of the Red Heifer that there were
two days that a person had to come and be sprinkled with the ashes. On the
Third day and on the Seventh day.
Num 19:19 The man who is clean is to sprinkle the unclean person on
the third and seventh days, and on the seventh day he is to purify him.
There may be a reason why these two days were specified. The clue is
in Leviticus 23, the feast days of the Lord. There were seven days
that were to be a Holy convocation, a Holy gathering. These are the days
of the Lord:
1.The first day of Unleavened Bread
2.The seventh day of Unleavened Bread
4.Rosh Ha Shannah or Trumpets
5.Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement
6.The First day of Sukkot or Tabernacles
7.The Eighth day of Sukkot which is Simchat Torah, the eighth day.
The purification with the ashes of the Red Heifer was to take place
on the third day and the seventh day. Looking at this list may bring us
yet another picture of Gods plan and His timing. The third day of the
Holy yearly cycle is Pentecost. This is when both the old covenant, the
law, was given and the new covenant when the Spirit was poured out on the
believers and the church began. We must remember that the things
that are connected to Yeshua are New covenant, which speaks to the Spirit
and not just the outward things. So the first step of out purification
is on our Pentecost experience as we receive the Holy Spirit. And the
completion of it is on the seventh day, when we are delivered from the
body of sin and death, in the resurrection or Rapture. So lets look for a moment
to the picture that is painted for us in the seventh day of convocation
which is the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles.
It is an extra day. The feast runs for seven days, beginning on the
15th of Tishreri . It is a feast that looks forward to our living in His
presence. The feast is known by the following names.
1. The feast of In-gathering
2. The feast of the Final harvest
3. The time of our dwelling (with Him)
4. The season of our Joy
5. The feast of dedication. (because the Temples were dedicated on
On the eighth day there is the extra day, which is known as the
holding back, the time to tarry in His presence. It is a picture of the
beginning of a new time, as well as the ending of a previous time. It is
the end of the Torah reading cycle and the beginning of a new one. The
Torah is read from the preachers pulpit known as the Bema Seat. This is
all a picture of the Bema judgment and our beginning to dwell with Yeshua
in the Millennial Kingdom. It would therefore also be after the final victory
for the believer has been won, deliverance from the flesh, the body of
death. Being delivered from the body of death he is now cleansed for
service to the Lord. Could this seventh day of convocation, the eighth day
of the Tabernacles, be the day of our redemption? I guess only time will
tell, but I will never view this day in the same way as I have in the past.
Every thing the Lord does is for a reason, to show us something,
to reveal some other aspect of Himself or His plan for us, and the two
days chosen to complete our purification must be viewed the same way. It
was the third and the seventh days that we were to be washed in the Ashes
of the Red Heifer, washed in the waters of Yeshua. We wait now for the
washing on the seventh day. Maybe that is the eighth day of Tabernacle
for us, the seven day of the Lords Holy days the day that look forward
to the Bema judgement when believers works of righteousness are rewarded
by the Lord. In so far as Yeshua and the fulfillment of the feast days,
Pentecost was expressly for those who would become the church. Perhaps
the seventh day, the day of lingering with Him, the end of the cycles of
time, the beginning of eternity, will be the conclusion for the church
letter from Chiam Richman of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem...
4 June 1997
Chiam Richman wrote...
"With regards the red heifer here in Israel, firstly, it never really
was a red heifer at all, since a heifer is only a heifer from the age of
three---before that, it's a calf. Secondly, from the very start, it
didn't appear that it would be kosher, since it seems that it had a drop
of white even in the beginning. My understanding is that now, it is
unquestionably invalid, having developed quite a bit of white, and some
other problems as well. From the very beginning of the story, the media
made it into somewhat of a hoopla, and overemphasized it a bit. For many
Israelis it was perhaps more wishful thinking than anything else-- a
"parah adumah wannabe", which certainly seemed like it could be the one.
Meantime, most of those who became excited about this calf, were not
aware of the fact that kosher, real red heifers do in fact exist already
at this moment....Clyde's, back in Mississippi. However since my trip to
the states and the subsequent media attention which (unfortunately) I
have received since my return, many here in Israel as well as the states
are now aware of the importance of Clyde's accomplishments.
What I wrote in the book, with regard to the local heifer, was a
reflection of the atmosphere here in Israel at the time those words were
written. Because so many people were excited, I could not simply ignore
the event; though I myself did not anticipate that it would amount to
much...and I tried, gently and diplomatically, to allude to just that
(by stating that "of course, this heifer could easily be
invalidated...etc.) In any event, I do believe that it certainly was
another sign, another "wake-up call," if only to get people more
interested in the topic, and more receptive and ready to hear about what
is really going on."
Jerusalem Post - May 26, 1997
A Very Holy Cow
By JEREMY SHERE
(May 25) "We have been waiting 2,000 years for a sign from God, and now He has provided us with a red heifer."
Two months ago, the birth of a red calf at Kfar Hassidim, a small religious kibbutz near Haifa, caught the attention not only of the local media, but of news organizations worldwide.
A slightly hysterical editorial in one local paper referred to the calf as a ticking time bomb and only half-jokingly called for the government to have it shot.
The Boston Globe ran a story with the ominous headline, "Portent in a Pasture."
London's Sunday Telegraph claimed (erroneously, as it turns out): "The heifer will be slaughtered and burned, and its ashes used in a ceremony which religious Jews believe they must undergo before they can enter the old Temple site in Jerusalem to start building a new Temple."
The sense of panic engendered in the local media by the announcement of the birth stems from a connection made between this heifer - according to Jewish tradition and lore, the 10th since the time of Moses - as a supposed harbinger of the Messiah. Former Jewish Underground member Yehuda Etzion, ringleader of a plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock in the 1980s, was quoted in the Sunday Telegraph as saying: "We have been waiting 2,000 years for a sign from God, and now he has provided us with a red heifer."
Rabbi Mordechai Shmaryahu, a Kfar Hassidim resident and keeper of the newborn heifer, takes exception to such comments, and bemoans the media's response, which he sees as hysterical and irresponsible.
"It's ridiculous to assume that the next step for us is to conquer the Temple Mount," says Shmaryahu, who, wary of generating more damaging press, turned down interviews with the American networks CBS and ABC.
"The cow is not a walking atom bomb, or whatever they called it. We're looking at this as an opportunity to teach our kids about the Holy Temple."
Although some Orthodox groups have been organizing trips to Kfar Hassidim to see the heifer, Shmaryahu plays down its significance as a miracle, and now even calls into doubt the authenticity of the calf as a halachically kosher red heifer.
"When the cow was born, rabbis from Jerusalem came here with members of the press and immediately declared it a kosher red heifer," Shmaryahu says. "But after cleaning it we found a few white hairs in its tail, so we're not even sure it's the real thing. In fact, I never claimed that it was a real red heifer. The whole thing has been blown out of proportion."
With this information in hand, journalists and politicians wary of the heifer's potential to spark violent attempts on the Dome of the Rock can rest easy, at least for the moment. They may be surprised, however, and probably alarmed, to learn that a Jerusalem-based rabbi, Haim Richman, and a Mississippi cattle rancher and Pentecostal preacher, Clyde Lott, have joined forces to not only create a truly kosher red heifer which, if it won't save the world, will at least rescue the local cattle industry. In fact, they hope to make it the dominant breed of cattle in Israel.
In 1989 Lott, whose specialty is the naturally reddish Red Angus cattle, decided to try to breed a genuine red heifer. To that end he made contact with Richman, an expert on the subject who works with the Temple Institute, a Jerusalem-based organization dedicated to researching and teaching about the Temple.
Together they set out to do the breeding and ultimately bring several specimens to Israel by importing pregnant cows. For several years they traveled throughout the country, meeting local cattlemen who might be willing to work with them in finding a place for the cattle.
"We had to deal with a mountain of bureaucracy, as well as Israeli cattlemen who think they know everything, and convince them that we could bring them better cattle," Richman says. "And then there was the issue of explaining my presence," he adds, gesturing to his beard and tzitziot (prayer shawl fringes).
"We learned right away that it's not good to mention the Temple and the spiritual aspects of the red heifer when dealing with cattlemen. So, I became known as Clyde's translator."
For the next two years, Lott and Richman scoured the country trying to find suitable grazing land for Lott's cows. During their investigations, they learned that the local cattle industry is in difficult straits. "Clyde began to realize that by bringing his Red Angus cows to Israel, cows that are of particularly fine quality in terms of producing beef, he could not only provide a red heifer for spiritual purposes, but help Israel economically by eliminating the need for beef imports," Richman says.
After another year of making contacts within the Agriculture Ministry and winning the trust of several local cattlemen, Richman and Lott started progressing toward their dream of making Lott's red heifers the dominant strain of local cattle. Lott began working with some local breeders to develop a prototype for an Israeli-raised red heifer.
It soon became apparent that the main obstacle to the project was the formidable cost of transporting cattle to Israel and purchasing land on which to raise them. To that end, Lott and Richman established the Tikvah Corporation, an organization dedicated to raising funds for the transportation. Until now, according to Richman, lack of finances was the only thing holding up shipping. Although unwilling to disclose any details, he says a number of investments made by Lott with the sole intention of generating funds for the project are finally starting to pay off. Although the total cost of transporting and successfully raising red heifers to Israel remains uncertain, Lott claims that, once begun, the process of making them the dominant strain could take less than one year.
But such a plan, according to Israeli cattle researcher Stephen Rothman, is more fanciful than realistic. "It sounds like a dream," says Rothman, who conducts research for the Northern Research and Development center in Kiryat Shmona.
"Raising cattle in Israel is very expensive, and it's actually cheaper to import beef from abroad."
Rothman does admit, however, that the local cattle industry is in a dire situation, and that a superior breed from abroad might make a difference.
"If someone could actually develop a new breed of cow that is particularly likely to flourish given the agricultural conditions in Israel, then it is possible. In any case, the cattle industry does need saving."
That Richman, an Orthodox rabbi, and Lott, a Pentecostal minister as well as cattleman, should team up in an attempt to try to save Israel's cattle industry by importing red heifers, is oddly appropriate considering the mysterious nature of that animal in Jewish lore.
One of the most enigmatic sections of the Torah, the verses referring to the red heifer are found in Numbers (XIX: 2-7): "Speak unto the children of Israel that they may bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke."
Although it is explained in the Talmud that the purpose of offering the red heifer as a sacrifice was to use its ashes mixed with water to purify those who had come into contact with the dead, neither the Torah nor any of the many commentaries explain why it is necessary that the cow be of a reddish hue. The lack of a clear explanation, combined with the scarcity of such cows since the destruction of the Second Temple, has added to the aura of mystery this commandment gained in Jewish lore.
Richman has spent years researching this obscure topic, and recently completed a book entitled, The Mystery of the Red Heifer. Through his work with the Temple Institute, he came into contact with thousands of non-Jews interested in the subject. Intrigued by the considerable interest from the non-Jewish world, he began traveling on speaking tours throughout the southern US "Bible Belt," lecturing in evangelical churches about Judaism and the Jewish way of life.
"I became sensitized to the connection that many non-Jews have with the concept of Jerusalem, with the Temple and the idea of messianism," says Richman, a calmly intelligent, eloquent man whose bookshelves are a mixture of holy and secular texts on Halacha, Torah, Eastern and Western philosophy, and literature.
"There are many common points between Jewish and Christian communities, but for the past 1,000 years the Jewish-Christian dialogue has focused mainly on those points on which we disagree."
His interest in the red heifer stems from several unsuccessful attempts by the Temple Institute in the late 1980s to produce a genuine model genetically.
"Red is a very difficult color to come by when dealing with cows," Richman explains. "The rabbis established that the cow must be completely red, so unless there's a miraculous birth, the cow must be bred to that end."
A breakthrough in the institute's search for a red cow came in 1989 in the roundabout form of a letter from Lott. The letter asked if Israel was in need of a red heifer for spiritual purposes. Lott, a native Mississippian who speaks with old-fashioned Southern courtliness and calls people "Sir," says he became intensely interested in the red heifer while studying the Bible one night eight years ago. "I was studying the chapter in the book of Genesis where Jacob receives a number of speckled and spotted cows from Laban as payment," says Lott in a telephone interview from Mississippi. "I got to thinking that this cattle must have formed the basis of the Israelites' herd when they went down to Egypt. So, from a cattleman's standpoint, I started wondering how they could have gotten a pure red cow from these spotted cattle."
That speculation led Lott, a deeply religious Christian, to draft a letter offering the State of Israel his assistance in producing a red cow. After a 90-day trek to several locations, the letter was finally forwarded to the Temple Institute, where it came to Richman's attention. "One day this letter arrived," says Richman, with a lingering sense of wonderment, "and from all the crossed-out scribbling on the envelope you could tell that it had been sent to many different places before it reached us. So I read the letter, and that's how I met Clyde."
After he determined that Lott's interest in helping Israel was genuine, they struck up a fast friendship. Working together, they experimented with Red Angus cows until Lott was able to produce what Richman claims is a genuine red heifer.
Although helping to bail out the failing cattle industry has become a major source of motivation for both Lott and Richman, the essence of their drive to bring red heifers to the country remains religious. "I've devoted my entire life to this; God has placed it on my heart," says Lott, who sees himself as the spiritual heir of "the righteous Gentile from Ashkelon" who, according to the Midrash, provided the rabbis with the last known red heifer during the time of the Second Temple.
Although the red heifer is first and foremost important for spiritual and religious reasons, Richman insists there is no contradiction between using it both as a means of ritual purification and as a source of steak and hamburger. "It's a cow, not an angel; it doesn't have wings," he says. "There's nothing sacrilegious about using it as beef. The Torah says to use one of God's animals for the sacrifice. It's very beautiful, actually, that one of this species could be used to prop up the economy of the state."
Indeed, according to Richman, given the historical precedent of the Temple and the Sanhedrin as a social watchdog that enacted laws to keep prices down during the Second Temple period, using Lott's red heifers as a means of generating revenue in Israel could not be more fitting. He is, however, well aware of how bizarre his project may seem to those not interested in Temple lore, as well as the oddity associated with the red heifer even within the Jewish tradition.
"It can seem very strange to people that a cow can be so important; it is weird," he admits. "What people have to understand is the spiritual significance of what the red heifer means today." That understanding, he says, can come only from recognizing the spiritual purpose for which the red heifer is needed: namely, purifying those who have come into contact with the dead. The sort of purity at stake, Richman explains, is not a matter of physical cleanliness, but rather one of spiritual purity and balance.
The question, then, is why does contact with a dead body, or death in general, make one spiritually impure? The answer, according to Richman, whose recent book is in part devoted to exploring the concept of death and spiritual impurity in Jewish law, lies in the fact that while many ancient pagan religions worshipped angry, vengeful deities of death who proved their might by depriving mortals of life, Judaism, at its core, is a celebration of life.
"The human body becomes impure with death, because all that made it holy was the presence of God-given soul," Richman says. "When that departs, the body is no longer holy. According to the Torah, death is not the end; it's a graduation. Life is so great and holy that it can't be held back; it just expands."
In modern times, Richman sees the importance of the red heifer as working on many symbolic levels.
"The idea of purification through the red heifer, and the existence of such a heifer in our times, means the difference between viewing the epic of Jewish history as a coffee-table book or as a living thing."
The biblical commandment to sacrifice a red heifer was intended for the high priests (kohanim) of the Temple periods. Upon coming into contact with a dead body, a priest became impure and could not enter the Temple to perform his duties. The priests, Richman says, were conduits for holiness, and as such were commanded to not pay attention to the supposed division between life and death, but to recognize life's greater continuity as a force of holiness. Why a scarlet cow should should contain the necessary magical properties for purifying the priests is a mystery which even Rashi, one of the greatest Torah commentators, said was simply beyond human understanding.
But it is the red heifer's integral connection to the Temple that sets off alarm bells in certain quarters, given the extremism of some of those who advocate rebuilding Judaism's holiest shrine in our own day. Richman understands these concerns, and tries to address them.
"We have no intention of using Clyde's red heifers to immediately start purifying people in preparation for the rebuilding of the Temple," he says, somewhat exasperated. "We're clearly not ready for that."
On the subject of the Temple itself, Richman walks a fine line between unabashedly supporting the Third Temple movement and rejecting those whose ambitions for it involve any sort of violence. He doesn't ignore the reality of the Dome of the Rock. "But the Torah makes it clear that God chose one spot to rest his presence - on Mt. Moriah. That's not something that I decided. God decided it, and God is greater than Bill Clinton, Yasser Arafat and even greater than Bibi - so the fact is that I don't feel that I have to apologize to anyone that that's where the Temple should be.
"However," he continues, "violent talk about blowing up mosques is inappropriate and unacceptable. Many things have to happen before the Temple can be built, the main one being that we must have unity in Israel before it can happen, which we don't have now. The Temple is supposed to be for everyone, not just Jews. It's really universal in scope.
"I think it's a tragedy of Jewish history that we haven't taken over the Temple Mount, but I'm not being more particular, because something has to give," he says.
"I can say, without being ashamed or feeling that I'm backing down from the issue, that as a human being all I can do is work within the confines of Halacha to bring about the time of the Temple as best as I can. My work with Clyde to bring red heifers to Israel is part of a larger process, one that is moving us one step closer to a time when we will be ready to build the Temple."
Red Heifer: The Bible
The red heifer provided a means for the congregation of Israel to purify themselves for presentation to God. It is this strong connection which drives the Ultra Orthodox Jews of today to prepare and purify themselves for the coming preisthood and temple services.
The red heifer must meet certain physical criteria and must be sacrificed in a certain way. Once sacrificed, the ashes are to be mixed with "clean" water and it is this mixture which is sprinkled over the "unclean". Numbers 19 is the basis for understanding and the direction from God for the physical purification.
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 2 This [is] the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein [is] no blemish, [and] upon which never came yoke: 3 And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and [one] shall slay her before his face: 4 And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times: 5 And [one] shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: 6 And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast [it] into the midst of the burning of the heifer. 7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even. 8 And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even. 9 And a man [that is] clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay [them] up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it [is] a purification for sin. 10 And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever.
11 He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. 12 He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. 13 Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness [is] yet upon him. 14 This [is] the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that [is] in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. 15 And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, [is] unclean. 16 And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. 17 And for an unclean [person] they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: 18 And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip [it] in the water, and sprinkle [it] upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave: 19 And the clean [person] shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even. 20 But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he [is] unclean. 21 And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even. 22 And whatsoever the unclean [person] toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth [it] shall be unclean until even.
Those who know Messiah Yeshua, should understand the above scriptures represented a "type" of Messiah. For the sacrifice of the "red heifer" was the forerunner to the ultimate sacrifice of Messiah which could do so much more than "purify the flesh". Remember that the red heifer was to be "without spot" (Num 19:2). Compare this with the following passage written by Paul in the book of Hebrews; he explains it well:
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The Details According to the Bible:
A. The red heifer (Num 19:2):
Must be without blemish
Must be without defect
Must never have worn a yoke
B. The sacrifice (Num 19:3-7):
Must be performed outside the camp
The blood must be sprinkled seven times in front of the tabernacle
The ENTIRE heifer must be burned before the priest
Cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet are added to the fire
The priest washes his clothes and bathes
C. The Water of Purification (Num 19:9):
Prepared by a man who is clean
He gathers the ashes
(Implied) He adds water to the ashes (19:17)
He stores it outside the camp in a clean place
The water is for the congregation of Israel
He washes his clothes and bathes
It is this water, The Water of Purification, which is required by the Israelites today. It is needed to "purify" today's Levitical priesthood and to "purify" the temple mount in preparation for the Third Temple.
Red Heifer: The Rancher
In the early 1990's, a cattle rancher ran across the scriptures describing the red heifer. As he pondered what he had just read, he realized that he indeed had that kind of heifer.
Coming into contact with a group from Israel, he began communicating and eventually worked a deal to provide them with the biblically defined red heifer.
The original agreement was to provide 200 pregnant red heifers, which would be shipped via ocean lined to Jerusalem. Statistically, these pregnant heifers would produce 100 bulls and 100 heifers. The resultant 100 heifers would become the "potential" sacrificial stock.
Time went by, and this event did not occur. The interest and motivation had by no means disappeared but are fervently still there. The plan had now reached a much grander scale. The goal now is to repopulate the nation of Israel with this man's breed of cattle stock. So instead of 200 heifers, they are planning to ship thousands of heifers to Jerusalem.
As you read this, the heifers are grazing in the plains of Nebraska. I have been told that they are very gentle and a very good breeding stock. They have never been haltered, worn a blanket and are visually spotless and free from defect. A rabbi from Israel will be examining them this spring (1997).
The rancher is Clyde Lott. He has said that they are looking for "prayerful minded people" to help out with their efforts. He also said that they are "set on go" and ready for the process of shipment and repopulation to begin.
Most of this information has been obtained from a tape interview of Clyde Lott by Hatikva Ministries and from telephone conversations with him.
Red Heifer: Israel Today
There is quite a bit of excitement in the air regarding the recent birth of a red heifer in Israel. This news has rocked the world in a way that it doesn't fully realize .... yet.
Arutz-7 News: Tuesday, March 18, 1997
The birth of a red heifer (cow) in a farm in the religious youth village of Kfar Hasidim (near Haifa) has excited sectors in the religious community. A delegation of some 25 experts, including Rabbis Yisrael Ariel and Yoseph Elboim, visited the farm last week to examine the six-month old cow, and concluded that it is in fact an acceptable red heifer, according to Torah requirements. However, the cow must be at least two years old before it can be used. Until then, the cow will be carefully watched to ensure that nothing occurs to invalidate its status. According to Biblical law, the cow's ashes are used for purification from certain forms of impurity, and is therefore a prerequisite for the renewal of Holy Temple service.
THE MID-EAST DISPATCH, DAILY NEWS FROM ISRAEL - ISSUE 237 - 16th March 1997
RED HEIFER SIGNALS THIRD TEMPLE
The birth of a red heifer in Israel is being hailed by religious Jews as a sign from God that work can soon begin on building the Third Temple in Jerusalem.
A team of rabbinical experts last week confirmed that the animal, born six months ago on a religious kibbutz near the north Israeli port of Haifa, meets the correct Biblical criteria for a genuine holy cow. According to the Book of Numbers (XIX: 2-7), the animal is needed for an ancient Jewish purification ritual.
"Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke," says the fourth book of the Old Testament, also part of Jewish holy scripture, the Torah.
The heifer will be slaughtered and burned, and its ashes made into a liquid paste and used in a ceremony which religious Jews believe they must undergo before they can enter the old Temple site in Jerusalem to start building a new structure. Since Herod's Temple was destroyed by the Roman emperor Titus in AD 70, no flawless red heifer has been born within the biblical land of Israel, according to rabbinical teaching.
The birth of the animal, to a black-and-white mother and a dun-colored bull, is being hailed as a "miracle" by activists who want to rebuild the Third Temple and prepare the way for the Jewish messiah's entry to Jerusalem.
The faithful will need to wait until the heifer is at least three before it can be used in a ritual sacrifice. That would enable religious Jews to start the new millennium (a Christian event, but still regarded as portentous) in a state of purity.
News of the red heifer's appearance, however, will not be well received by Muslims. The site of the old Jewish temples in the Holy City is now occupied by one of Islam's holiest shrines, the Dome of the Rock. Jewish extremists want to destroy the Dome and the adjoining Al-Aqsa mosque to make way for a new temple. In 1985 a group of Jewish terrorists were jailed in Israel for planning to destroy the Dome with high explosives.
But Jewish activists say they regard it as their divine mission to build a new Temple. "We have been waiting 2,000 years for a sign from God, and now he has provided us with a red heifer," said Yehudah Etzion, the ringleader of the Eighties' plot to blow up the Dome, who was present at last week's inspection of the red heifer at Kfar Hassidim. "There were a couple of little white hairs which worried us, but the rabbis are satisfied that it is the red heifer referred to in the Bible," said Mr Etzion. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (London) 3/1
Boston Globe 04/06/97 (p A1)By Ethan Bronner, Globe Staff
In photo: Rabbi Shmaria Shore examines a red heifer seen by some as a sign for Jews to rebuild the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. (Globe Photo/Heidi Levine) KFAR HASIDIM, Israel - She stares out at the world through dewy eyes, stumbling on awkward legs, dipping into her trough with abandon, oblivious to the soaring hopes and apocalyptic fears that have spread with the news of her birth.
Watched over by an armed guard in a skullcap and visited by rabbis and other seekers of meaning, this rust-colored six-month-old heifer is hailed as a sign of the coming of the Messiah and decried as a walking atom bomb.
Of a variety believed extinct for centuries, the red heifer is seen by some as the missing link needed for religious Jews to rebuild their ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Sacrificing the animal in its third year and using its ashes in a purification rite would allow Jews to return 2000 years later to the Temple site, a spot holy to both Jews and Muslims.
With tensions already high over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to build a Jewish neighborhood in the section of Jerusalem Palestinians consider theirs, many fear that the calf's arrival could create an explosive situation.
``That cow represents the risk of a massive religious war,'' said Avraham Poraz, a member of Parliament from the leftist Meretz Party. ``If the fanatics get a hold of it and try to take over the Temple Mount, God knows what will happen. It only takes a few crazies to endanger all our lives.''
In terms of historic gravity, some have drawn a loose analogy with Dolly, the cloned Scottish sheep. But if Dolly stands on the frontier of science, the calf of Kfar Hasidim harks back to the most ancient tribal ritual.
Born to a black-and-white mother and brown father on a northern Israeli farm run by a religious high school for troubled and orphaned students, the calf was brought to the attention of Rabbi Shmaria Shore shortly after its birth. Shore, a native of Providence, said he had his doubts and, after checking with ancient texts, invited a number of rabbis from Jerusalem to come to give their views. They did so several weeks ago and quickly spread word that something truly miraculous seems to have occurred.
To understand the significance of the heifer requires a knowledge of long-abandoned practices in the extinct Temple as well as a grasp of the place the Temple holds in the collective unconscious of religious Jews.
For strictly Orthodox Jews, the Temple stands for the Jewish people's direct link to God, its place as His chosen people. Built by King Solomon around 950 BC and destroyed and rebuilt and expanded over the succeeding centuries until its final destruction by the Romans in AD 70, the Temple was the center of Jewish life where daily animal sacrifices were overseen by the priestly classes of Levites and Cohen's.
The Temple's destruction meant that Jewish religious life had to be re-created. Prayer, Torah study and good works became substitutes for animal sacrifice as a means of seeking favor and forgiveness from God, a development that many modern Jewish thinkers have welcomed. But a yearning for the days of the Temple has never entirely died.
One byproduct of Israel's victory in the 1967 war that brought the Old City of Jerusalem under Israeli control is the revival of interest among a small number of Jews in rebuilding the Temple because of the link they believe it offers to God and the cosmic centrality it might signify for Jews everywhere. This has caused concern not only because few Jews wish to return to animal sacrifices and priestly classes but because the site of the Temple has been occupied for the past 1,300 years by the third-holiest shrine in Islam, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques.
Holy to Muslims and Jews
Those mosques were built when Islam spread through the region in the 7th century. Most scholars say the mount was chosen for their location precisely because of the belief that it was a holy place. The Prophet Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven from there.
A few Jewish fanatics have been caught trying to blow up the mosques to make room for a new Temple that would anchor a renewed Jewish kingdom and trigger the arrival of the Messiah. Most everyone else believes such a move would launch a war with the world's 1 billion Muslims.
The fear of such an act is nonetheless keen. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat recently showed a meeting of the Islamic Conference Organization in Pakistan a photo montage sold by Temple advocates that depicts the mount with the ancient Temple in the place of the two mosques.
Arafat indicated that the current battle over a Jewish housing project in East Jerusalem is but the first step on a path leading to the new Temple. Last September, when Israel opened a new exit to an archeological tunnel near the mount, Muslims rioted, saying the Jews were seeking to bring down the mosques.
The vast majority of Jews fiercely reject dreams of returning to the mount, content to have the one remnant of the Temple, the Western Wall, as a symbolic link to a bygone era and leave it at that. And they have been generally unworried about the zeal of a handful of Temple faithful for two reasons.
First, to avoid friction with Muslims, the Israeli government forbids Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. And second, the rabbis have ruled that religious Jews may not even walk on most of the mount for fear that, in their impure state, they will pollute the holiest of earthly places.
But that is where the new heifer comes in.
In the days of the Temple, all who entered it had to be made spiritually clean by being sprinkled with a substance whose main ingredient came from the ashes of a red heifer burned in its third year.
A rare breed
The sages described the heifer as a rare breed. Only nine were recorded in religious texts to have existed and the strain has long been assumed extinct, thus making it impossible to contemplate a return to Temple ritual.
Orthodox Jews still pray three times a day for the rebuilding of the Temple. But, Jewish scholars say, most have not taken the prayer literally.
``It has always been a kind of nostalgia,'' remarked Daniel Sperber, an Orthodox Jew and professor of Talmud at Bar Ilan University, outside Tel Aviv. ``Most people relate the rebuilding of the Temple with the coming of the Messiah. Until he turns up, we don't have to worry much about it.''
But most religious Jews consider the mount to be an exceptionally holy, if temporarily occupied, spot. They will not speculate on when the Temple will replace the mosques but many believe that, one day, it will.
The creation of Israel and the recapture of Jerusalem have reawakened a belief among the rapidly growing ultra-Orthodox community that something divinely inspired is unfolding here. The red heifer is simply the next sign.
A dozen rabbis have examined the calf and said she is the long-awaited ritual heifer, meeting, so far, all the criteria described by the ancients. If the calf lives unblemished for another 18 months, she can theoretically be put to use.
``It is written that it is the 10th heifer that the Messiah will discover and here we have the 10th heifer. This is a clear sign that the Messiah is near,'' said Rabbi Ido Weber Erlich of Jerusalem in an interview on Israel Radio.
For the workers at The Temple Institute, on a cobblestone alley inside the rebuilt Jewish quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, the arrival of the heifer is an inspiration.
The institute recreates the implements of the Temple, from the pale flaxen robes worn by the priests to the golden incense jars and lyres used at prayers. There is already a portrait of the new heifer on the institute wall.
``For us, the heifer is a milestone,'' said Rabbi Menachem Makover, deputy director of the institute. ``During the Diaspora, everything was missing. No one knew about the crown worn by the high priest, for example. Now we see that everything that was gone is slowly coming back.
``We used to say, `We don't have this,' or `We don't have that,' but that is no longer an excuse. We still have political problems with the Arabs. But from above someone is leading us to these tools. We didn't ask for the red heifer. Suddenly it came.''
This is the kind of talk that makes Arabs and many Israelis nervous.
David Landau, a journalist with the liberal daily newspaper Haaretz, and himself an Orthodox Jew, wrote an opinion piece recently titled, ``The Red Heifer: It's No Joke.'' in which he called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security services to take this problem in hand now. Landau says that while a bullet to the head of the calf might be the ticket, less radical action might also be considered since any blemish or irregularity to the calf would ruin it for liturgical purposes.
Rabbi Shore, who presides over the religious school here, says the only execution carried out by Israel was that of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann 35 years ago and if the state were to do the same to the red heifer, ``I don't know whether I'd laugh or cry.'' Some rabbis are urging that the calf be used to breed a herd of red heifers so that such an attack not end what has begun. Shore says the heifer's arrival poses other, still-unsolved problems, such as finding a ritually pure member of the priestly Cohen class to slaughter it. But many difficulties in the renewal of Jewish life in Israel have already been solved, he said, and this, too, might have a solution. ``Some people say, `Blow up the mosques,' but I don't see it that way,'' he said. ``The Temple is at the core of the spiritual life of the Jews, and it must come when the Jews are truly ready for it. Of course, rebuilding the Temple may come as something violent and hostile.
``The Temple Mount is the source of blessing
for the entire world. It is not just a piece of real estate. So
this opportunity we have must not be wasted.''
Return to Great Joy in Great Tribulation