The weekly Torah reading of Chukat begins with the verse:
And G‑d said..."this is the law of the Torah... take to yourself a red heifer, pure, that has no blemish, that never bore a yoke". The word "pure" modifies the redness. The heifer has to be pure red to the extant that if it grows even two black hairs in its first year, it is disqualified.

The Sfat Emet writes that people are also commanded to be pure. While an animal is allowed two black hairs before it is disqualified, even the smallest misstep causes us to lose the title "pure". It is true when we stand in front of the Heavenly Court to be judged, we will not be alone in having transgressed. The person about whom it can be said, "this one is pure", is indeed truly special.

There have been a total of nine red heifers in the history of the Jewish people, from the first one in the desert until the destruction of the Second Temple. The Midrash says that the tenth and last heifer will be found just before the arrival of Mashiach. Since Mashiach will cause the Third Temple to be built, we will need the ash of the red heifer to purify ourselves before we can serve in the Temple.

Every once in a while you hear in the news in Israel that a red heifer was found, but so far none have made it through the first year. May it be the will of the Almighty, that we all merit to live in the times when the tenth red heifer is found!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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