The red heifers
The red heifersDvir Amar

The Academy for Temple Knowledge held a conference this week titled "The Red Heifer- Halacha, Research, and Thought," during which a special tour was held for 100 participants at the farm Red Heifer Farm in Ancient Shiloh. The red heifers are the key to a special purification ritual required before service in the temple in Jerusalem.

"The red heifers arrived in Shiloh on Sukkot and since then many interesting things have happened and the reactions have been amazing," recounted Moriah, the academy's training coordinator.

According to her, "We have special rules for raising the red heifer, we don't take them to graze, they are very spoiled, and dirty because it's dangerous to clean them, we're afraid of pulling out a hair (which would disqualify the cow from the ritual). And if they get wet they may get pneumonia, we're waiting for the summer so we can wash them without hurting them.

They have feeding areas so they won't fight with each other and an examination room where once every two weeks representatives of the Temple Institute come to inspect the Texan cattle. The cattle are of a special breed which is the correct color. There is still a challenge since they can't have a tag on their ears and they can't carry a yoke. Cameras are filming them constantly to make sure no one comes and touches them since that disqualifies them. Even if I was hot and I took off my blanket and put it on the cow it is disqualified, there are a lot of things that take a lot of caution."

Moriah shares a special story about the cattle: "On Sunday when a red heifer came here from its farm in the north for a day. At the same time, a haredi woman who lost her child a few months ago arrived in Israel, her whole world was destroyed and she had been questioning her faith. She heard a rumor that a red heifer arrived in Israel and told herself: 'G-d, show me a sign if I see a sign that things will be ok.' She went to visit Shiloh and saw before her eyes the red heifer, a sign from heaven."