Photo Credit: Tazpit News Agency
A Red Heifer (illustrative photo).

Following an absence of more than 52 days, which he likely spent hiding in a tunnel, the spokesman for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, Abu Ubaydah made a comeback on the 100th day of the war, not in person – he’s no fool – but in the style of the late Ossama Bin Laden, through a recorded video message. Among other things, he underscored the real cause for the October 7 atrocities, the growing conviction on the part of the Hamas leadership that the Jews were on a path of religious reawakening that would lead to the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.


According to the Jordanian news website Al Bawaba, Abu Ubaida revisited in his recorded speech the origins of the conflict, emphasizing the religious beliefs that ignited the war. “At the core of these beliefs is a specific Jewish Zionist idea involving the burning of five red heifers,” explains Al Bawaba’s Osama Ali.

Like everything their prophet Mohamad took from the Jews (those pesky Jewish Zionists), this bit is not wrong, there is a connection in Jewish tradition between a red heifer and messianic redemption – not five red heifers, one is more than enough.

Ali continues: “The recent buzz revolves around the arrival of five red heifers from Texas to Israel ten months ago, strategically placed in a secret farm near Beit She’an (see the JPress’ story, Latest Attraction in Samaria: A Biblical Red Heifer).”


Selecting a red heifer. / The Temple Institute

“The heifers, following a specific set of criteria outlined in ancient texts, are expected to play a crucial role in rituals for the purification of the Jewish people. This process involves sacrificing one of the heifers, utilizing its ashes in a unique cleansing ceremony, allowing unrestricted access for Jews worldwide to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” according to Ali.

As has become the norm over the past decade or so, when Ali writes “Al-Aqsa Mosque” he is not referring to the silver-domed structure at the end of the Temple Mount compound (the name literally means “at the end”), but the entire Temple Mount compound. Arab references to the site have evolved from the original “Bait al-Maqdis” which is Arabic for “Beit HaMikdash,” Holy Temple in Hebrew, to an appropriation of the entire area.

Ali now downgrades the Jewish tradition which is rooted in the Torah to a legend.

“The legend surrounding the Red Heifer, rooted in Mishnah texts, describes specific attributes such as its color, work history, and upbringing. The unique conditions for its birth and the subsequent rituals contribute to its sacred significance. The legend asserts that a red heifer meeting these criteria has not been born in two thousand years, making the current presence of five such heifers a highly exceptional and symbolic event.”

The real thing goes like this (Numbers 19):

“Hashem spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: This is the ritual law that Hashem has commanded: Instruct the Israelite people to bring you a red cow without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which no yoke has been laid (that’s the work history Ali mentions, even a red heifer needs a resume these days – DI). You shall give it to Eleazar the priest. It shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the Tent of Meeting. The cow shall be burned in his sight—its hide, flesh, and blood shall be burned, its dung included—and the priest shall take cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson stuff, and throw them into the fire consuming the cow.
“Another pure person shall gather up the ashes of the cow and deposit them outside the camp in a pure place, to be kept for the water of lustration for the Israelite community. It is for purgation. […] Those who touch the corpse of any human being shall be impure for seven days. They shall purify themselves with [the ashes] on the third day and on the seventh day, and then be pure; if they fail to purify themselves on the third and seventh days, they shall not be pure. Those who touch a corpse, the body of a person who has died, and do not purify themselves, defile Hashem’s Tabernacle; those persons shall be cut off from Israel. Since the water of lustration was not dashed on them, they remain impure; their impurity is still upon them.”

Ali notes: “The implications of these developments extend beyond religious beliefs, delving into the political realm. The Israeli government, despite its professed secular stance, has exhibited a noteworthy eagerness to facilitate the entry and utilization of these red heifers, marking an extraordinary departure from standard procedures. This commitment, evident in both right-wing and left-wing governments, underscores the influence of religious considerations on state policies.”

Red heifers. / Josh Wander


Now, why did I make you read through more than 800 words on the subject of the Arabs’ view of our red heifer tradition? To point out that while many Israelis have no connection to the message of Jewish redemption, and regard the story of those red heifers from Texas as an oddity (see The Forward’s Holy cow! Can one heifer herald the Third Temple — and the end of the world as we know it?) – the Arabs get it.

From scholars to murderers (which are often the same), the Arabs feel exactly what many religious Jews feel – that history as we know it will end on the Temple Mount, and the game changers are, among others, unprecedented Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, and the red heifers. Because after being purified from the impurity of the dead with the ashes of the red heifer, the crowds of Jews who will celebrate the Passover sacrifice on the Temple Mount will be bigger than the crowds at the priestly blessing by the Kotel.

Our Jewish-Zionist response (Hey, we’re all Jewish Zionists, just like Grandpa Yaakov and Uncle Moshe) must be to intensify the anxieties of the Arabs, scholars and murderers alike: show up in droves on the Temple Mount, carry out the Passover sacrifice in public, throw fear in their black hearts.

Shabbat Shalom


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