Q. I have a question about the red heifer. I have a friend that tells me that they HAVE to have the ashes from the last burnt heifer to mix with the ashes of the next offering to cleanse the Temple. It’s a must he tells me. I cannot find anything on this. What will happen when they build the next Temple and need the ashes?
A. According to Rabbi Chaim Richman, an official of the Temple Institute and probably the world’s leading Jewish authority on the subject, there is no Biblical or traditional requirement for the ashes of the previous red heifer to be mixed with the next one.
If they wanted to begin building the Temple and needed to purify the workers, they could sacrifice a new one and proceed. They would only need ashes from the last one if they didn’t have a new one to sacrifice and didn’t want to wait for one to appear.
By the way, Rabbi Richman and others have been actively seeking a perfect red heifer for several years and have a breeding program in place with the goal of producing one. My guess is by the time they need one they’ll have it.