Question: I have heard that without the original ashes of the red heifer for purification as described in Numbers 19, Temple worship cannot be resumed, I have also heard that some Jews in Israel are searching for the ashes of the red heifer so they can begin rebuilding the Temple. Is this true?
Answer: The book Ready to Rebuild: The Imminent Plan to Rebuild the Last Days Temple by Thomas Ice and Randall Price describes the efforts of two Gentile Americans—independently of one another—to attempt to locate a jar which supposedly contains the ashes of the last red heifer used in Jewish ceremonies.
Nevertheless, Ice and Price state, Nothing in the text [of Numbers 19:10] or in extrabiblical tradition explicitly states that such continuity with the original ashes is required. For this reason, the recovery of the ashes of the red heifer is not considered important by some Temple activists” (pp. 135-36). According to a spokesman for the Temple Institute, a group active in preparing for a Third Temple, the need for the original ashes “is not a Jewish concept.”
There are however, efforts underway to breed red heifers in Israel. Interested readers are referred to the above book, available from Harvest House Publishers and reviewed by Rich Robinson on page 3 of this Newsletter.