Chukat June 29, 2017

This week’s decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu to renege on his commitment to create an egalitarian worship space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem should trouble every Jew who cares about pluralism, democracy and the future of the Jewish State. (For more information, click on the links below in this edition of the BHT ENews.)  That this decision was made during the week of parshat Chukat, when we read about the ritual of the red heifer (Num. 19), seems fitting.  This obscure law about the use of the ashes of a cow for purification purposes has not been followed since shortly after the Temple was destroyed.  But, because of this statement in the Talmud:  “According to R. Meir in all of Jewish history only seven heifers were burned, but according to the rabbis there were nine (Par. 3:5), and the tenth and last will be prepared by the Messiah (Yad, Parah Adummah 3:4),” one very small sub-sect within the Orthodox Jewish world is preparing to reinstitute the red heifer law in the Messianic Age.  It is also a small sub-sect of the Jewish world that PM Netanyahu is trying to appease in reversing course on The Kotel.   His decision is as out of step with modernity as was the red heifer law in the 1st Century CE.