The Year of the Red Heifer

“I really believe that the red heifer was born this year,” Kupietzy said. He explained that the current Hebrew year is 5781 which, in Hebrew numerology, is תשפא. “That is an acronym for תהיה שנה פרה אדומה (it will be the year of the red heifer).”

Kupietzky explained that as part of the ongoing effort to find a red heifer, he is working with Boneh Israel (build Israel), a Christian organization, to educate non-Jews to identify possible candidates. Kupietzky explained that the Talmud has a precedent for the red heifer being provided by a non-Jew. The Talmud (Kiddushin 31a) tells the story of the non-Jew named Dama who would not wake his father, Netina, to get to the key under his pillow to retrieve the stones to sell for the breastplate of the High Priest at a price of 600,000 dinarsDama forfeited this great sum simply so as not to disturb his father’s sleep. He was rewarded the following year by finding in his flock and selling a rare red heifer to the rabbis for the same sum.

“The red heifer is not a korban, a sacrifice,” Kupietzky pointed out. “It is performed outside of the Temple and is considered a tekes, a ceremony. Which is why we are especially looking in Texas for the tekes,” he quipped.

The existence of such a heifer is considered a biological anomaly and very rare. Fortunately, the ritual requires an infinitesimally small quantity of ashes. From the time of Moses, who personally prepared the first heifer, until the destruction of the Temple, only nine red heifers were prepared. Nonetheless, this was sufficient to maintain the ritual purity of the entire nation for almost 2,000 years.

According to Jewish tradition, there will only be ten red heifers in human history with the tenth heifer ushering in the Messianic era. Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), the most renowned medieval Jewish scholar known by the acronym Rambam, wrote in his explanation of the mitzvah that “the tenth red heifer will be accomplished by the king, the Messiah; may he be revealed speedily, Amen, May it be God’s will.”

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