Red, White and Moo: Red heifers and white buffalo


It’s not easy being a sacred cow.

NPR reports on the recent death of a sacred animal in Native American tradition: 

There’s now a $45,000 reward for information leading to those responsible for the death of a white buffalo, "considered sacred by its Lakota Sioux owner," and its mother near Greenville, Texas, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Crime Time blog.

In the Jewish tradition, the "red heifer" also has a special status. JTA readers learned about this in 1997, when the Melody the cow was born in Israel:

While most Israelis regard Melody as no more than a curiosity, some in the Orthodox community believe that the birth of a red heifer — after two millennia — signals the coming of messianic times.

The biblical red heifer was used in purification rites through the Second Temple period.

To enable Jews to approach the holy site, the high priest slaughtered a 3-year- old red heifer, burned it and then mixed its ashes with water. The water was then sprinkled on those seeking ritual purity.

Ultimately, Melody didn’t live up to the hype. In 1998, she was declared impure after white hairs were discovered on her tail.

Here’s video interview describing the discovery and significance of a white buffalo . Is it just me, or does the background music sound a lot like "Hinei Mah Tov"?

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