1

The red heifer should be burnt only outside the Temple Mount, as Numbers 19:3 states: "And you shall take it outside the camp." They would burn it on the Mount of Olives. A ramp was built from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives. Below it were arches upon arches, i.e., an arch on two arches, so that there would be empty space under it, lest there be a grave in the depths of the earth. Similarly, the place where the heifer was burnt and the place of immersion on the Mount of Olives had the space under them hollowed, lest there be a grave in the depths of the earth.

The red heifer, the one who would burn it, and all those who assist in its burning go from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives on this ramp.

א

אֵין שׂוֹרְפִין אֶת הַפָּרָה אֶלָּא חוּץ לְהַר הַבַּיִת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יט ג) "וְהוֹצִיא אֹתָהּ" אֶל מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה. וּבְהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה הָיוּ שׂוֹרְפִין אוֹתָהּ. וְכֶבֶשׁ הָיוּ עוֹשִׂין מֵהַר הַבַּיִת לְהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה וְתַחְתָּיו בָּנוּי כִּפִּין כִּפִּין וְכִפָּה עַל כָּל שְׁנֵי כִּפִּין כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵי רַגְלֵי הַכִּפָּה עַל גַּג שְׁנֵי כִּפִּין שֶׁתַּחְתֶּיהָ. כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּהְיֶה תַּחַת הַכּל חָלוּל מִפְּנֵי קֶבֶר הַתְּהוֹם. אַף מְקוֹם שְׂרֵפָתָהּ וּמְקוֹם הַטְּבִילָה שֶׁהָיוּ בְּהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה תַּחְתֵּיהֶן חָלוּל מִפְּנֵי קֶבֶר הַתְּהוֹם. וְהַפָּרָה וְהַשּׂוֹרֵף וְכָל הַמְסַעֲדִין בִּשְׂרֵפָתָהּ יוֹצְאִין מֵהַר הַבַּיִת לְהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה עַל גַּבֵּי כֶּבֶשׁ זֶה:

2

How was the red heifer burnt? The elders of Israel would walk to the Mount of Olives first. There was a mikveh there. The priest, those assisting in burning it, and the heifer would go out on the ramp and come to the Mount of Olives.

There they would make the priest impure. The elders would rest their hands on the priest and tell him: "Immerse yourself." If he was a High Priest, they would tell him: "My sir, the High Priest, immerse yourself." He would descend, immerse himself, ascend, and dry himself.

There was wood arranged there: cedar wood, oak wood, pine wood, and smooth fig wood. An arrangement like a tower was made and windows were made in the midst of it, so that the fire would flame in them. The front of the arrangement was in the west.

The heifer would be tied with a rope of love grass and it would be brought onto the arrangement with its head to the south and its face to the west. The priest would stand to the east with his head facing west. He would slaughter the heifer with his right hand and receive its blood in his left hand. With his right finger, he would sprinkle from the blood in his left palm seven times toward the Holy of Holies. He would dip his finger in the blood for every sprinkling. The remainder of the blood on his finger was disqualified for sprinkling, Therefore, after every sprinkling, he would clean his finger on the body of the heifer.

When he completed sprinkling, he would clean his hands on the body of the heifer and descend from the arrangement. He would light the fire with small kindling twigs and place them below the wood of the arrangement. The fire would begin to catch in it. The priest would stand at a distance and watch it until the fire catches in its larger portion and its belly becomes ripped open.

Afterwards, he takes a branch of a cedar tree and hyssop that is at least a handbreadth long, and wool dyed crimson weighing five selaim. He asks the people standing there: "Is this a piece of cedar?" "Is this a piece of cedar?" "Is this a piece of cedar?" "Is this hyssop?" "Is this hyssop?" "Is this hyssop?" "Is this a crimson thread?" "Is this a crimson thread?" "Is this a crimson thread?", asking each question three times. They answer: "Yes!" "Yes!" "Yes!", three times for each set of questions.

Why is all this necessary? Because there are seven species of cedar, four species of hyssop, and several options to produce red dye. Some dye with madder and some dye with lacca sap, and some dye with tola'at? Tola'at refers to very red berries that resemble carob seeds. They are like sumach berries. There is a bug, like a gnat, in every berry. Since there are different types of species for each of the entities involved, the priest notifies everyone and informs them that these are the species mentioned in the Torah.

The hyssop mentioned in the Torah is the type of hyssop eaten by home-owners and used as a condiment in certain dishes. The hyssop, cedar, and wool dyed crimson are all absolute requirements, without one of which, the others are not acceptable. The priest should bind the hyssop together with the cedar branch with the crimson thread and then throw them into the belly of the heifer, as Numbers 19:6 states: "He shall cast them into the midst of the conflagration of the heifer."

He should not cast them into the heifer until the fire has caught hold of the larger portion of it and not after it has been reduced to ashes. If he casts them at those times, it is unacceptable, as indicated by the phrase: "into the midst of the conflagration," i.e., not before the fire has caught onto its larger portion and not after it was reduced to ashes. Whether one cast all three of them together or one after the other, whether one cast them into the heifer's body or into the fire, whether its belly burst open on its own accord or the priest ripped it open by hand or with a utensil, it is acceptable.

ב

כֵּיצַד שׂוֹרְפִין אוֹתָהּ. זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיוּ מַקְדִּימִין בְּרַגְלֵיהֶן לְהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה וּבֵית טְבִילָה הָיָה שָׁם. וְכֹהֵן וְהַמְסַעֲדִין בִּשְׂרֵפָתָהּ וְהַפָּרָה יוֹצְאִין עַל הַכֶּבֶשׁ וּבָאִין לְהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה. וּמְטַמְּאִין אֶת הַכֹּהֵן וְסוֹמְכִין הַזְּקֵנִים אֶת יְדֵיהֶם עַל הַכֹּהֵן וְאוֹמְרִים לוֹ טְבל אַחַת. וְאִם הָיָה כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אוֹמְרִים לוֹ אִישִׁי כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל טְבל אַחַת. יָרַד וְטָבַל וְעָלָה וְנִסְתַּפֵּג. וְעֵצִים מְסֻדָּרִים הָיוּ שָׁם אֲרָזִים אַלּוֹנִים וּבְרוֹשִׁים וַעֲצֵי תְּאֵנָה חֲלָקָה. וְעוֹשִׂין מַעֲרָכָה כְּמִין מִגְדָּל וּמְפַתְּחִין בָּהּ חַלּוֹנוֹת כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּהְיֶה הָאוּר מְלַבֶּבֶת בָּהֶן. וּמַרְאֵה הַמַּעֲרָכָה בְּמַעֲרָב. וְכוֹפְתִין אֶת הַפָּרָה בְּחֶבֶל שֶׁל מֶגֶג וְנוֹתְנִין אוֹתָהּ עַל גַּבֵּי הַמַּעֲרָכָה רֹאשָׁהּ לְדָרוֹם וּפָנֶיהָ לְמַעֲרָב. הַכֹּהֵן עוֹמֵד בַּמִּזְרָח וּפָנָיו לַמַּעֲרָב. שׁוֹחֵט בִּימִינוֹ וּמְקַבֵּל הַדָּם בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ. וּמַזֶּה בְּאֶצְבָּעוֹ הַיְמָנִית מִן הַדָּם שֶׁבְּכַפּוֹ הַשְּׂמָאלִית שֶׁבַע פְּעָמִים כְּנֶגֶד בֵּית קָדְשֵׁי הַקָּדָשִׁים. עַל כָּל הַזָּאָה טְבִילַת אֶצְבַּע בְּדָם. וּשְׁיָרֵי הַדָּם שֶׁבָּאֶצְבַּע פְּסוּלִים לְהַזָּיָה לְפִיכָךְ עַל כָּל הַזָּאָה מְקַנֵּחַ אֶצְבָּעוֹ בְּגוּפָהּ שֶׁל פָּרָה. גָּמַר מִלְּהַזּוֹת מְקַנֵּחַ אֶת יָדָיו בְּגוּפָהּ שֶׁל פָּרָה וְיוֹרֵד מִן הַמַּעֲרָכָה וְהִצִּית אֶת הָאֵשׁ בְּעֵצִים קְטַנִּים וְהִכְנִיסָן תַּחַת עֲצֵי הַמַּעֲרָכָה וְהִתְחִיל הָאֵשׁ בָּהּ וְהַכֹּהֵן עוֹמֵד בְּרָחוֹק וּמְשַׁמֵּר לָהּ עַד שֶׁיִּצַּת אֶת הָאוּר בְּרֻבָּהּ וְתִקָּרַע בִּטְנָהּ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹטֵל עֵץ אֶרֶז וְאֵזוֹב אֵין פָּחוֹת מִטֶּפַח וְצֶמֶר צָבוּעַ בְּתוֹלַעַת מִשְׁקַל חֲמִשָּׁה סְלָעִים וְאוֹמֵר לָעוֹמְדִים שָׁם. עֵץ אֶרֶז זֶה עֵץ אֶרֶז זֶה עֵץ אֶרֶז זֶה. אֵזוֹב זֶה אֵזוֹב זֶה אֵזוֹב זֶה. שְׁנִי תּוֹלַעַת זֶה שְׁנִי תּוֹלַעַת זֶה שְׁנִי תּוֹלַעַת זֶה. שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים עַל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד. וְהֵן אוֹמְרִין לוֹ הֵין הֵין הֵין שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים עַל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד. וְכָל כָּךְ לָמָּה לְפִי שֶׁמִּינֵי אֲרָזִים שִׁבְעָה הֵן וּמִינֵי אֵזוֹב אַרְבָּעָה וְהַצָּבוּעַ אָדֹם יֵשׁ שֶׁצּוֹבְעִין אוֹתוֹ בְּפוּאָה וְיֵשׁ שֶׁצּוֹבְעִין אוֹתוֹ בְּלַכָּא וְיֵשׁ שֶׁצּוֹבְעִין אוֹתוֹ בְּתוֹלַעַת וְהַתּוֹלַעַת הִיא הַגַּרְגְּרִים הָאֲדֻמִּים בְּיוֹתֵר הַדּוֹמִים לְגַרְעִינֵי הֶחָרוּבִים וְהֵן כְּמוֹ הָאוֹג וְתוֹלַעַת כְּמוֹ יַתּוּשׁ יֵשׁ בְּכָל גַּרְגִּיר מֵהֶן וּלְפִיכָךְ מוֹדִיעַ לַכּל וּמְגַלֶּה לָהֶן שֶׁאֵלּוּ הֵן הַמִּינִים הָאֲמוּרִים בַּתּוֹרָה. וְהָאֵזוֹב הָאָמוּר בַּתּוֹרָה הוּא הָאֵזוֹב שֶׁאוֹכְלִין אוֹתוֹ בַּעֲלֵי בָּתִּים וּמְתַבְּלִין בּוֹ הַקְּדֵרוֹת. הָאֵזוֹב וְהָאֶרֶז וְהַתּוֹלַעַת שְׁלָשְׁתָּן מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. וְכוֹרֵךְ הָאֵזוֹב עִם הָאֶרֶז בְּלָשׁוֹן שֶׁל שָׁנִי וּמַשְׁלִיךְ אֶל תּוֹךְ בִּטְנָהּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יט ו) "וְהִשְׁלִיךְ אֶל תּוֹךְ שְׂרֵפַת הַפָּרָה". וְאֵינוֹ מַשְׁלִיךְ קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּצִּית הָאוּר בְּרֻבָּהּ וְלֹא אַחַר שֶׁתֵּעָשֶׂה אֵפֶר וְאִם הִשְׁלִיךְ פְּסוּלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אֶל תּוֹךְ שְׂרֵפַת לֹא קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּצַּת הָאוּר בְּרֻבָּהּ וְלֹא אַחַר שֶׁתֵּעָשֶׂה אֵפֶר. בֵּין שֶׁהִשְׁלִיךְ שְׁלָשְׁתָּן כְּאַחַת בֵּין שֶׁהִשְׁלִיךְ זֶה אַחַר זֶה בֵּין שֶׁהִשְׁלִיךְ לְתוֹךְ גּוּפָהּ אוֹ לְתוֹךְ שְׂרֵפָתָהּ בֵּין שֶׁנִּקְרְעָה מֵאֵלֶיהָ וְאַחַר כָּךְ הִשְׁלִיךְ בֵּין שֶׁקְּרָעָהּ בְּיָדוֹ אוֹ בִּכְלִי כְּשֵׁרָה:

3

When the process of burning it has been completed, its remnants and all of the pieces of wood in its arrangement that were burnt with it are beaten with clubs and everything is raked out with rakes. Anything - whether from its flesh or from the wood - that has been blackened and is possible to be crushed and reduced to ashes, should be crushed and reduced to ashes. If something has no trace of ash on it, it is left. Any piece of bone that remains from the heifer's bones that was not burnt should be crushed regardless.

ג

נִגְמְרָה שְׂרֵפָתָהּ חוֹבְטִין אוֹתָהּ בְּמַקְלוֹת הִיא וְכָל עֲצֵי הַמַּעֲרָכָה שֶׁנִּשְׂרְפָה בָּהֶן וְכוֹבְרִין אֶת הַכּל בִּכְבָרוֹת וְכָל שָׁחֹר שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיִּכָּתֵשׁ וְיִהְיֶה אֵפֶר בֵּין מִבְּשָׂרָהּ בֵּין מִן הָעֵצִים כּוֹתְשִׁין אוֹתוֹ עַד שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה אֵפֶר וְשֶׁאֵין בּוֹ אֵפֶר מַנִּיחִין אוֹתוֹ וְכָל עֶצֶם שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר מֵעֲצָמֶיהָ בְּלֹא שְׂרֵפָה בֵּין כָּךְ וּבֵין כָּךְ הָיָה נִכְתַּשׁ:

4

None of its ashes are brought into the Temple Courtyard for storage, as ibid.:9 states: "And he shall place it outside the camp." The ashes were divided into three portions: one was placed in the chayl one, on the Mount of Olives, and one, was divided among all the priestly guardposts.

The one that was divided among all the priestly watches was used by the priests to sanctify themselves. The one that was placed on the Mount of Olives was used by the entire Jewish people for sprinkling. And the one that was placed in the chayl was prepared and hidden away, as implied by ibid. which states: "It will be a security for the congregation of Israel." This teaches that it was put away for safekeeping.

Indeed, in the chayl, they would put away for safekeeping a portion of the ashes from every red heifer that was burnt. Nine red heifers were offered from the time that they were commanded to fulfill this mitzvah until the time when the Temple was destroyed a second time. The first was brought by Moses our teacher. The second was brought by Ezra. Seven others were offered until the destruction of the Second Temple. And the tenth will be brought by the king Mashiach; may he speedily be revealed. Amen, so may it be G‑d's will.

ד

אֵין מַכְנִיסִין כְּלוּם מֵאֶפְרָהּ לְהַנִּיחוֹ בָּעֲזָרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יט ט) "וְהִנִּיחַ מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה". וּשְׁלֹשָׁה חֲלָקִים הָיוּ חוֹלְקִין אֶת כָּל אֶפְרָהּ אֶחָד נִתַּן בַּחֵיל וְאֶחָד בְּהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה וְאֶחָד מִתְחַלֵּק לְכָל הַמִּשְׁמָרוֹת. זֶה שֶׁמִּתְחַלֵּק לְכָל הַמִּשְׁמָרוֹת הָיוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים מְקַדְּשִׁין מִמֶּנּוּ. וְזֶה שֶׁנִּתַּן בְּהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה הָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַזִּין מִמֶּנּוּ. וְזֶה שֶׁנִּתַּן בַּחֵיל הָיָה מוּכָן וּמֻצְנָע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יט ט) "וְהָיְתָה לַעֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת" מְלַמֵּד שֶׁמַּצְנִיעִין מִמֶּנּוּ. וְכֵן הָיוּ מַצְנִיעִין מֵאֵפֶר כָּל פָּרָה וּפָרָה שֶׁשּׂוֹרְפִין בַּחֵיל. וְתֵשַׁע פָּרוֹת אֲדֻמּוֹת נַעֲשׂוּ מִשֶּׁנִּצְטַוּוּ בְּמִצְוָה זוֹ עַד שֶׁחָרַב הַבַּיִת בַּשְּׁנִיָּה. רִאשׁוֹנָה עָשָׂה משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. שְׁנִיָּה עָשָׂה עֶזְרָא. וְשֶׁבַע מֵעֶזְרָא עַד חֻרְבַּן הַבַּיִת. וְהָעֲשִׂירִית יַעֲשֶׂה הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ מְהֵרָה יִגָּלֶה אָמֵן כֵּן יְהִי רָצוֹן: