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Cattle Breeders Search for Elusive Red Calf to Use in Temple Service

December 14, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

What does the scientific breeding of cattle in Israel have to do with building the Third Temple?

Very much, according to officials of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, who concern themselves with preparations for the coming of the Messiah.

On Tuesday, they persuaded the Sephardic chief rabbi, Mordechai Eliahu, to visit the G and G ranch, near Bat Shlomo on the Carmel range, to see an almost pure red cow.

The ranch has gained an international reputation for breeding quality dairy herds, using local bulls and frozen embryos imported from abroad.

The Temple Institute has been searching the world for embryos from red or almost pure-red cows.

The institute’s head, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, explained that according to tradition, work on the Temple and observances inside can only be performed by people who are ritually pure.

An entirely red heifer is needed for the purification rites. It must be ritually slaughtered and burnt on a fire made of cedar wood and hyssop.

No more than a drop of its ashes mixed with water is used to purity anyone who has become unclean, for example, by contact with a corpse.

To be suitable for the sacrifice, the cow must be pure red, without a single hair of an other color. So far, none has been found.

But the Temple Institute is intrigued by the breeding experiments going on at the G and G.

Ranch owner Danny Greenberg explained to the chief rabbi the complex process whereby a 7-day-old embryo can be frozen and implanted into the uterus of a cow.

Only two weeks ago, the ranch laboratory perfected a process to determine the sex of the unborn beast.

According to the Bible, unblemished firstborn male cattle may not be slaughtered. By determining the sex of the implanted embryo, ranchers can ensure that the first-born to any particular cow is female, which, if pure red, would be kosher for purification rites.

According to Rabbi Eliahu, quoting the Rambam, the Messiah will come during the time of the 10th red heifer. But he could not say when that would be.

Nor is he sure the Third Temple will have to be built.

Personally, he believes it will descend from Heaven already built, the chief rabbi said.

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