Unraveling the Mystery-For Real, How Rare Is a Red Heifer?

A heifer is simply a fancy name for a young female cow that hasn’t yet borne a calf. And the red color we’re looking for here is not ruby red, however to a greater extent a reddish-brown, earthy color. (In fact, the Hebrew word for “red,” adumah, is etymologically linked to the word for “earth,” adamah.) So if you’re asking how rare red cows are, the answer is not very.

Yet, it’s not all that straightforward. In the first place, we should begin by understanding what the red heifer (parah adumah, in Hebrew) was utilized for.

Parah Adumah—Red Heifer

Basically, the Torah lets us know that one who comes into contact with a carcass (by touching or in any event, being under the same rooftop as the body) becomes sullied. He cannot enter the Blessed Sanctuary or partake of the sacrificial offerings or other sacred food sources until he purifies himself.

As part of the purification interaction, the ministers would slaughter the red heifer and consume it on a fire, together with a cedar branch, hyssop twig and crimson fleece. They would then take the ashes, blend them in with spring water, and sprinkle the combination onto the unclean person. For to a greater degree toward all this, see Meet the Red Heifer.


So if red cows aren’t that rare, for what reason is it so difficult to find a qualified red heifer? Well, the Torah gives us all in all a list of criteria:

● The cow should be, at a minimum, within its third year of life (i.e., two years in addition to a piece).

● It should be totally red. Indeed, even two hairs of a different color close to each other or three that are far apart disqualify it.

● All physical blemishes that disqualify sacrificial animals, disqualify a red heifer as well.

● Any work finished with it disqualifies the cow. “Work” in this case includes even a person leaning on it or placing a garment or material upon it (except if this was finished to just safeguard the actual animal).

● Placing a burden on the cow, regardless of whether it actually accomplish any work, also disqualifies it.

● If the heifer is pregnant, or regardless of whether a male has mated with it, it is disqualified.

Finding a red heifer that satisfies all of these specifications, although certainly feasible, is unusual.

That’s the reason individuals get invigorated when a qualified red heifer is discovered.

Finding a red heifer that satisfies all of these specifications, although certainly feasible, is unusual.

That’s the reason individuals get invigorated when a qualified red heifer is discovered.

Misconceptions and the Messianic Age

There is, however, a typical misconception about the rarity of the red heifer. Maimonides composes:

Nine red heifers were offered from the time that they were commanded to satisfy this mitzvah until when the Sanctuary was obliterated a subsequent time. The first was brought by Moses, our teacher. The second was brought by Ezra. Seven others were offered until the obliteration of the Subsequent Sanctuary. And the 10th will be brought by the King Moshiach; may he expediently be revealed. Amen, so may it be G‑d’s will.

Some take these words to mean that main nine qualifying red heifers have at any point existed, and the introduction of the 10th one will be an indication of the redemption. In truth, however, the ashes of a red heifer can last for seemingly forever, since just a very small amount was required to have been blended in with the purifying waters. So the fact that main nine were at any point utilized for purification purposes doesn’t mean that main nine were at any point conceived, only that main nine were required or utilized hitherto.

Redemption and the Red Heifer

The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that the above quote from Maimonides is abnormal for him. In Mishneh Torah, Maimonides simply enumerates the laws. Yet here, immediately after mentioning that Moshiach will make the 10th parah adumah, he adds, “. . . May he quickly be revealed. Amen, so may it be G‑d’s will.” What makes this more surprising is that Maimonides has an entire segment specifically about the laws of Moshiach, yet doesn’t add this prayer there. Just here, where the main topic is the parah adumah and Moshiach is just referenced in passing, does he add the prayer.

The Rebbe explains that Maimonides is actually teaching us a halachah — that a Jew should always yearn for the redemption, to the point that at whatever point Moshiach is referenced, regardless of whether just in passing, the person ought to automatically pray that he come quickly. If Maimonides were to possibly add the prayer while discussing the laws of Moshiach, one could think that a prayer is possibly warranted if that is the actual topic of discussion. By adding it when Moshiach is just referenced in passing, we learn that it ought to always be on our mind.


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