What is a Red Heifer and why are we talking about it?
A red Heifer is basically a red cow. It is a cow whose coat has no more than one single hair of any color other than red, and whose skin, hoofs, and eyelids are all also reddish. The red heifer is described in Numbers Chapter 19:
“This is the requirement of the law that the Lord has commended: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish, and that has never been under a yoke.” (Numbers 19:2 NIV), further instructions concerning the sacrifice of the red heifer are in verses 3-10.
Burning the ashes of a red heifer is a mandatory (and lasting, verse 19:10) act for beginning the temple offering to God. The ashes of the red heifer is a key element in a biblically mandated purification ritual. These ashes are required for purification in a range of situations including contact with dead bodies (Num 19). Now with all the bloodshed on the Temple Mount down through the centuries, the Mount itself must be cleansed before the Temple can be built.
Without the Red Heifer even trying to build a third temple (the second one destroyed in 70 A.D.) would prohibit the act of properly offering sacrifices to God. And before Jesus will be back for the second time, a Temple needs to be present (see Part 2), and without a red heifer, the temple sacrifice will not be suitable for worship. One can see the absolute significance of the appearance of the red Heifer so that the prophecies concerning the second return of Christ can be fulfilled.
Moses prepared the first red heifer and from that time until the destruction of the Temple, only nine heifers were prepared (as the amount of ashes needed is very small). There has been no proper red heifer in Israel for the past 2000 years! The difficulties of finding red heifers anywhere is that they are not only rare but the animal have to meet the requirements as stipulated in the Torah and in the oral Talmud (the Mishnar and the Gemera, oral Jewish laws and commentaries).
The five main criteria for establishing the proper red heifer for the holy purpose of purification are:
The Temple Institute is a non-profit organization, founded in 1987, which is dedicated to rebuilding the Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. Much of its work has been in the areas of education and raising awareness, but it has also made remarkable practical achievements towards turning the Third Temple into a reality. This is another bold move for our Institute, having already painstakingly prepared more than 60 sacred vessels for the Third Temple. It has recreated over 70 utensils fit for the Temple service, including the gold menorah, the gem encrusted breastplate of the high priest, musical instruments used by the Levites, and priestly garments. It is in the process of reestablishing and started registering and training of those from the Levitical line.
Since 2015, the Institute launched the “Raise a Red Heifer” project to use the power of modern technology to breed cows to meet the requirements. Due to laws restricting the importation of live cattle into Israel, the Temple Institute imported frozen embryos of red angus, implanting them in Israeli domestic cows. The pregnant cows were raised on cattle ranches in different locations throughout the country.
For this red heifer, since one week after it’s birth, it was certified by a board of rabbis as fulfilling all the Biblical requirements. The Rabbis emphasized that the heifer could, at any time, acquire a blemish rendering it unsuitable. They will be inspecting the calf periodically to verify its condition.”
There is one other thing we ought to note: Unlike most other aspects of the Temple service, burning of the red heifer and the use of its ashes to purify do not require ascending to the Temple Mount. This ease off the political complications that may arise, since Jews are currently not allowed by law to pray or perform any rituals at the holy site.
Rabbi Chaim Richman, the International Director of the Temple Institute, commented on this on the institute’s website.
“If there has been no red heifer for the past 2,000 years, perhaps it is because the time was not right; Israel was far from being ready. But now... what could it mean for the times we live in, to have the means for purification so close at hand? With the words of Maimonides in mind, we cannot help but wonder and pray: If there are now red heifers... is ours the era that will need them?”
It looks like that with a Red Heifer in place, the stage is set for the building of the third temple and the end of days.
In fact the Temple Institute has updated one of their slogans to:
"This Is The Generation. The Children Are Ready"
We will take a look at this in Part 2.
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