(BIN) – A major step was made towards reinstating the Temple service: after an intensive study into the practical details, an actual heifer, albeit not a red one, was burned in precisely the manner that will enable the Jewish people to be purified. Chapter 19 of the Book of Numbers gives an in-depth description of the mitzvah (Torah commandment) of the burning of the red heifer and subsequent mixing with water for the purpose of sprinkling on the Jews as a means of ritual purification from contact with a dead body.
Despite the Biblical description, the mitzvah of the red heifer is considered the most enigmatic of all the Biblical commandments. The red heifer is essential to the restoration of the Temple service. The return of the mitzvah of the red heifer is described by the Prophet Ezekiel as a stage in the final redemption. The red heifer is not a sacrifice per se so it is burned in an area outside of the Temple, on the Mount of Olives. According to Jewish tradition, there have been nine red heifers since the mitzvah was given at Mount Sinai and the tenth red heifer will be used in the era of the Messiah. The last red heifer was prepared by the high priest Ishmael Ben Piavi around 60 CE and its ashes sufficed for the next three hundred years. READ MORE