The search for a red heifer has reached Texas.
In an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Sabo, a community rabbi in Dallas, Texas, recounted his unique experience taking part in the search for the red heifer at a farm two and a half hours from his city.
The red heifer is crucial in Jewish purity laws. According to Biblical law, only the ashes of a slaughtered red heifer are able to purify an individual who has contracted the highest level of impurity, that of coming into contact with a human corpse.
“It’s a very unique experience. It’s not something that I do. I don’t have a degree in finding red heifers around the world,” he said.
Sabo explained that he was approached by the Temple Institute who sent him and a crew to examine the heifers at the farm.
A cattle farmer named Donald Ferrell claimed to have five red heifers. It was an opportunity they could not miss.
They would have to examine the cows according to strict halakhic criteria. To be considered a red heifer, the heifer would have to meet standards. For one, the cow would have to be completely red, not even five strands of black or white hair on the tail could exist.
“If finding a red heifer was so easy, we would have tons,” said Sabo.
The owner of the cattle farm, Donald Ferrell, also joined Arutz Sheva to speak about his experience.
“It’s been a wonderful experience meeting Rabbi Sabo and his fellow rabbi who came with him and getting to speak with the rabbi in Jerusalem through interpretation,” he said.
He watched as the took many photos and videos to examine the five heifers.
“They were certainly thorough,” said Ferrell. “They took their time examining the heifers.”
All the examining took about eight hours. They checked for non-red hairs and blemishes in the hides.
For someone to call him up and ask if they could check his farm for an unblemished heifer during the one year where he had five red coloured heifers born was “absolutely astounding” for him.
“For me to think it’s coincidence, I can’t believe that. I think that G-d had a hand in it,” he said.
Unfortunately, all five heifers were rejected.
Ferrell said that in the future, he is certain to go and check any new reddish heifers for hairs or blemishes himself.
Sabo said that when he was asked to lead the trip to Ferrell’s farm, he was “just excited for the opportunity to help Am Yisrael.”
Is he disappointed that none of the cows turned out to be kosher red heifers?
Not at all. The experience was worth it. “It was a very unique thing.”
He said examining a cute cow might sound fun and easy but it’s the exact opposite. While the heifers were only three months old, they already weighed 300 pounds. They were not very cooperative. They kicked and moved around. And their mother was unhappy her baby was being handled.
“The whole thing was surreal. You had to pet down the cow and literally go hair by hair,” he said.
They documented the procedure with videos and photos to closely examine the heifers on a Zoom call with Rabbi Ariel of the Temple Institute.
Sabo was petting the cow with one hand while saying, “Good girl, good girl, you’re doing good,” while holding his phone with Zoom in the other hand, at the same time having a Halakhic discourse with the Rabbi.
The heifers did look genuinely red from afar but when you got close up, you began to see the spots that were non-red.
Sabo said of the experience, “it’s a beautiful thing.”