The quest for the red heifer: An ancient commandment meets modern technology

Temple Institute int'l director says crowdfunding campaign is opportunity for Jews and gentiles to help achieve the vision of the prophets of Israel of "a house of prayer and peace for all."

August 13, 2015 19:38
1 minute read.

The quest for the red heifer

The quest for the red heifer


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The Temple Institute launched a crowdfunding campaign last month to help raise the first authentic, kosher red heifer in 2,000 years in the land of Israel.

The Jerusalem Post on Thursday checked in with the Temple Institute's International Director, Rabbi Chaim Richman to find out how the project is moving along.

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"The campaign is going quite well but it has had its challenges," Rabbi Richman tells the Post. "This is about the re-introduction of a concept that's really quite ancient and doing it in a very modern way with the latest technology - it's procuring one of the most elusive commandments with modern technology."

In order for a heifer to be considered kosher for the Biblical use, it must be raised from birth under specific circumstances and in a controlled environment. To this end, the Temple Institute has joined forces with experienced cattle ranchers in Israel, who will utilize the technique of implanting the frozen embryos of Red Angus cattle in Israeli domestic cattle.

Thus far the campaign has raised some 33 thousand dollars with the help of people from all over the world. Rabbi Richman welcomes the international participation in the project remarking: "Considering that the vision of the prophets of Israel describes the Holy Temple in Jerusalem as a house of prayer and peace for all nations - this is an opportunity for Jews and gentiles to participate in that vision."

Questioned over opposition to the process by animal rights activists, Rabbi Richman says that as a vegetarian himself he can identify with it, but counters that what goes on in the Holy Temple -- which has been portrayed by critics as "barbaric" --  is actually a very delicate restoration of respect for the universe and life force. He further cites a statistic that while watching the Superbowl, Americans consumed 14 billion hamburgers, which requires some 7.7 million cows to be slaughtered. "There we're talking about one night for American entertainment and here we're talking about one animal, which according to the Torah, is the secret of purity and restoring world peace."

The Temple Institute's ultimate goal is to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem and it dedicated itself to that end. Since three years ago, the Institute has been raising funds, designing and building a new temple.

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