The Red Heifer


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Southern Maryland
Numbers 19:2-10:

"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:
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:
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:
And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn:
And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
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.
And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even.
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. 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."

I am a bit mystified by this passage. In most all other sacrifices, the animal is an unblemished first-born male. Yet here this red heifer is an umblemished female. Why the significant change in gender?

Also, isn't there a concerted effort going on now to genetically produce an unblemished heifer in preparation for the rebuilt Temple?
because the red heifer ritual is used for different things than the regular sacrifices - the ash is a particularly crucial for certain levels of prophecy. the ash of normal sacrifices is taken outside the Temple to the beit hadeshen (ash heap) and discarded.

and yes, there is an existing herd of red heifers from the "we've got to be ready for the Messiah to come" crowd - just as long as they don't try and actually kickstart the process.


Prophesy? I didn't get that with this passage. It clearly says it is a purification for sin.

I don't wanna kickstart anything. the messiah will come when it is the appointed time, and not sooner.
yes, but it doesn't say precisely when and how it is to be used. most sins only require a wait and then immersion in a ritual pool. our tradition links this ritual to the use of the ashes of the red heifer in prophecy. i'm not quite clear exactly how, but it is strongly represented in the mystical tradition as being important. and if i did know, i probably wouldn't be allowed to say, either.