Red heifer?
Red heifer?iStock

Rabbi Menachem Burstein, who heads the Puah Institute for Medicine and Halacha (Jewish law), has been dealing with issues related to the Third Temple for many years. Despite his opposition to ascending the Temple Mount under the present circumstances, he is in favor of preparing to any possible degree for the Third Temple.

One such preparation that he has been pursuing for some time, along with Rabbi Azaria Ariel of the Temple Institute, is the Biblically mandated red heifer. The book of Numbers specifies that the heifer must be completely red, without blemish, and have never pulled a yoke. The heifer would be burned, and its ashes used in a ceremony of ritual purification.

"Pursuant to the efforts we have previously discussed in this regard, we attempted to ensure that there would be a red heifer ready this year,'" explains Rabbi Burstein. "The cows were grown under optimal conditions under the careful supervision of pious farmers from the Golan Heights. Unfortunately, during the last year, black hair was discovered in them."

The good news is that the hairs have returned to red within a few months. "At the same time, we are now looking forward to the two-year birthday of three more heifers that were and still are completely red. With God's help and if there are no mishaps, within half a year we have three red heifers ready for the Temple."

As someone who has invested heavily in the study of red cows over the years, Rabbi Burstein has discovered that there is a special organization in Scandinavia that specializes in raising red cows because their meat is more tender and flavorful than other breeds.

Rabbi Burstein made use of the technology in use by the Puah institute to freeze red cow embryos and bring them safely to Israel. The process began some 25 years ago, under exacting rabbinical guidance, and is now nearing its completion.

Rabbi Burstein also tells of another innovation in the field of study related to the red heifer: "Prof. Zohar Omer, together with Rabbi Azaria Ariel, conducted a study and examined the amounts of wood required for every kilo of red cow to obtain the correct ash for the ceremony. I hope that this research will become practical very soon," concluded Rabbi Burstein.