web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Tzohar Rabbis Recall the Breaking of a Heifer’s Neck, Atoning for a Disturbing Death

Tzohar Chairman Rabbi David Stav

Tzohar Chairman Rabbi David Stav
Photo Credit: michlol.org

Following the death of Manesh Yazachu, a 19-year-old female soldier from Yokneam, in northern Israel, who had been hit by several cars, all of which fled the scene without stopping to extend help, the rabbinic organization Tzohar (its full name is “Tzohar – A Window Between Two Worlds,” alluding to its intention of opening a channel of communication between two communities in conflict, religious and secular Jews) decided to hold a kind of “breaking the neck of a heifer” ceremony, to atone for the shocking disregard of life exhibited by some of us.

The Torah provides for a case in which a dead body is found lying in a field and no one knows who killed him or her. The elders of the town nearest the site of the corpse must take from their herds a heifer that has never known the yoke, and bring it down to a riverbed where they must break the heifer’s neck, wash their hands over the heifer and proclaim, “Our hands did not spill this blood, nor have we witnessed the crime. Do not blame your people Israel whom you redeemed, God, and do not hold them accountable for the bloodshed of an innocent person.” Then atonement will be made for the bloodshed.

That’s the somewhat unsettling ceremony described in Deuteronomy 21:1-9, which concludes: In this manner you will purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, for you must do what is right before God.

Tzohar Chairman Rabbi David Stav arrived Thursday morning with a minyan of Rabbis at the gas station near the entrance to Kibbutz HaZore’a, where they conducted a prayer, calling on everyone to take greater care when driving, and protesting the deep moral offenses of hit-and-run drivers.

Tzohar members said that despite the fact that they didn’t actually break the neck of a heifer, they were hoping to attract public attention as well as the attention of Israel’s leaders, because “it cannot be that blood is spilled and people won’t atone for it.”

“We are responsible for the blood spilled in traffic accidents,” said Rabbi Stav, “for the blood of youth shed in pointless fighting, for the women murdered by their husbands. We are responsible for the blood spilled in the murders we read about in the papers. When it comes to human life, there is no escaping responsibility.”

“If every time a woman were murdered by her husband the heads of social services, the family court judges and the local rabbi would come and say, ‘We did everything possible to prevent this,’ reality would look better,” said Rabbi Rafi Foyerstein, also of Tzohar.

The Talmud, in Tractate Sota 46 b, tells us that the annulment of the practice of breaking the heifer’s back was a sign of the moral decline of Judea before the destruction of the Temple: “When the murderers became numerous, the custom of breaking the neck of a heifer was interrupted.”

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Tzohar Rabbis Recall the Breaking of a Heifer’s Neck, Atoning for a Disturbing Death”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Jewish blood libel cartoon posted on Facebook sometime in 2014 by an UNRWA teacher in Jordan.
UNRWA Teacher in Jordan Promotes Hatred of Jews on Facebook
Latest News Stories

The Knesset passed its first reading for the 2015-2016 budget by a vote of 57 to 53.

Ambulance near Rachel's Tomb

The Israeli police shot him before he threw his bomb at them.

Netiv Asara House HIt by Sniper 1

Shortly before 7 PM, sniper fire originating from Gaza hit a home in the Israeli town of Netiv Ha’asara.

Jewish blood libel cartoon posted on Facebook sometime in 2014 by an UNRWA teacher in Jordan.

A teacher at an UNRWA school in Jordan includes a Jewish blood libel cartoon on his Facebook account.

“I, Yaakov Litzman, pledge…to be faithful to the government of Israel and to its laws.”

Pope Francis invited the President of Israel for his first official visit to the Vatican.

The Maryland Democrat caved in even though she is retiring at the end of her current term.

Another rash of life-threatening firebombing and rock-throwing attacks has prompted Israel to think twice about abandoning soldiers and civilians as sitting ducks.

Pressure from Gush Etzion leaders has convinced Ya’alon to authorize a site in memory of last year’s three kidnap-murder victims.

As reported earlier, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s grandfather’s grave on the Mount of Olives was desecrated overnight by Arab vandals who destroyed and burned numerous graves. The Mount of Olives is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the world.

British liberal and leftists largely support the deal, though there are some center-left figures who oppose the agreement,

(JERUSALEM) – Beekeepers from across Israel delivered their honey products to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin this week in light of a festive event held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem for the upcoming Jewish New Year. A delegation of the Israeli Honey Council, which also included a three-generation family of children, parents, and grandparents in […]

Vice President Joe Biden is embarking on Florida to push the Iran nuclear deal while also checking out his chances as a possible presidential candidate in the 2016 Democratic primaries.

COGAT says, Hamas forcibly took control of warehouses of building materials and confiscated the contents to serve the needs of the organization.

It’s apparently a little boring sitting in the opposition.

Police report that 16-year-old Hagit Prezberg of Petach Tikva has been found safe.

More Articles from Yori Yanover
rain ATM

A Jerusalem woman is trying to hold on to her umbrella while withdrawing some cash at a Meah Shearim ATM, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The rain appeared out of the blue (which is how rain should), after a warm week that started to feel like summer. Well, it don’t feel like summer no more. Last […]

Rabbi Meir Mazuz (seen visiting a synagogue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) declared in a public Internet psak that it is legal for a Jew to go up to temple Mount.

Needless to say, Shas, the Haredi Sefardi party, is not happy.

“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”

Here’s the Israeli Navy boat INS Hanit arriving in Eilat on Saturday, March 8, 2014, after capturing the Klos C, which was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied weapons made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip. Here’s Israeli Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg speaking with the INS Hanit soldiers in […]

Pat Condell has a new video out, so, sit back, have fun. By the way, Message to Offended Muslims should not be confused with Message to Off Handed Muslims. Also, I’d love to hear what he has to say about Haredim.

The description that came with this picture says: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American actor Bette Midler during an event at the house of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in Hollywood on March 6, 2014. But Bette Midler is not really an actor, she’s a singer who made movies for the LGBT community and […]

We will shut them up in the campuses, we will shut them up in the high schools, we will shut them up at the 92nd St. Y.

An Israeli female soldier (because they’re better at removing babies from their homes) evacuates a baby from a settlement in Judea and Samaria some time in the recent past. I’m thinking, if the baby was angry enough, couldn’t he evacuate in return, right there in her arms? Imagine the same picture, except with a settler […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/tzohar-rabbis-recall-the-breaking-of-a-heifers-neck-atoning-for-a-disturbing-death/2012/02/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: