RED HEIFER OR HOLY COW? a Sign for the Jews to Rebuild the Temple
TEL AVIV (MSNBC) -This is a Bible story. It's the tale of a temple, a chosen people and a holy, well, actually, a sacred cow.Earlier this year at a religious kibbutz near Haifa, a black-and white cow gave birth to a red female calf. This would be relatively rare even to those concerned only with animal husbandry. But for some religious Jews steeped in the intricacies of the Torah, the birth of the red heifer was no random genetic event: it was a sign from God that work could soon begin on the Third Temple in Jerusalem, the construction of which would precede the coming of the Jewish Messiah. According to Jewish lore, no red heifers have been born in Israel since the Second Temple was destroyed by Roman soldiers in AD 70. Rabbinical experts have confirmed that the animal meets biblical requirements to be slaughtered and burned after three years. Its ashes will be mixed into a paste used in a purification ritual performed by the faithful before they can enter theTemple site in Jerusalem to begin work on a new structure.But as with many things holy in lsrael, there are complications with this plan. Today, the site of the old Jewish temples in Jerusalem is occupied by the Dome of the Rock and the AI-Aqsa mosque, among Islam's most sacred shrines. The opening of a tourist tunnel in the general vicinity of the Dome sparked deadly riots last year.No one can begin to imagine what a serious effort to build the Third Temple might spawn.

Mindful of this, the lsraeli government generally has been careful to prevent provocation in the area Jews call the Temple Mount. Israel has barred Jews from praying there since it captured Jerusalem from the Arabs in 1967.
That hasn't stopped some people. In 1985 several Jewish terrorists were jailed for plotting to blow up the Dome. In 1990 another group announced plans to lay a cornerstone for theThird Temple there, and thousands of Muslims rioted.Security concerns are only one reason prayer on the site has been barred. For years rival rabbis in Israel generally agreed that no Jew could be considered pure enough to pray at the Temple Mount because they hadn't found a genuine holy cow to fit the Biblical criteria stipulated in the Old Testament Book of Numbers (l9:27):

"Speak unto the children of lsrael that they may bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke"

The birth of the red heifer on the kibbutz near Haifa has convinced some Jews that the time of the Third Temple and the Messiah may not be far away One Israeli newspaper has referred to the calf as a ticking time bomb!

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