Thursday, February 28, 2013

Halocho #1053 - What color is a Red Heifer?

This Shabbat a second Sefer Torah is taken out for Maftir and the laws of פָּרָה אֲדֻמָּה – the Red Heifer – are read. (The first 22 verses of Parshat חֻקַּת   in במדבר י"ט ) 

There are opinions that there’s a Torah obligation to hear it being read, and people who don’t have access to a Minyan should find one this week. 

A Kosher פָּרָה אֲדֻמָּה is a (female) cow past its second birthday that is completely ginger-brown. Even two white or black hairs near each other would invalidate it. 

The non-brown part of its horns and hooves need to be filed down. Its eyes, teeth and tongue do not need to be brown. 

Using the פָּרָה אֲדֻמָּה for any work – even to carry something – would invalidate it. Birds and insects that land on its back do not invalidate it. 

The פָּרָה אֲדֻמָּה is slaughtered and burnt and the ashes mixed with spring water and sprinkled on people who come in contact with a corpse, on the third and seventh day of their purification process. 

This was a prerequisite for access to the בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּש (Temple). Since there’s a Mitzva to go into the בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּש on Pessach, we read this in anticipating of being able to implement it this year, or at least בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ – soon in our lifetime. 

Sources: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 140:2-3, Mishna Masechet Para, Ch. 1, Rambam Hil. Para Ch. 1 Shabbat Shalom

- Danny
Thursday, 18 Adar 5773

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