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Sunday, November 27, 2011

What does being all knowing actually mean in the Christian theology?

"And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” 
~ Revelation 19:11-16 

So, if Jesus has a name which no one knows but himself, then god the father also does not know it? Well, that is only fair since only god the father knows when Jesus will return. Somehow, an all knowing Jesus was unaware of that bit of information. 

In Matt. 24:35-37 Jesus said,  "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.  36"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah."

And here is another passage which shows that Jesus was unaware of something. 

Matthew 27:46
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Scripture makes it clear that Jesus' knowledge was limited. Not only did he did not know the timing of His own second coming or why god would forsake him, he did not know how long an epileptic suffered from his condition (Mark 9:21). Neither did He know who it was who touched His garment when healing virtue came forth from Him (Mark 5:30).

It also opens up an interesting question. If Jesus is god and eternal, then how can god the father be "his" god? In what way can Jesus have a god and still be a god himself? 

If there is anything that Jesus does not know, then he is not all knowing. Now many Christians try to claim that Jesus was limited by being human. However, before he was born as a human, he had existed for all eternity as god. It is reasonable to assume that he was all knowing before he was born as a human, since  the Christian concept of god states he is all knowing. If he knew everything before be was born as a human, then he should still have that knowledge. 

Many theists support the idea of the separation of church and state.

Americans United (AU) is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization whose mission is to defend the first clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” AU interprets this to mean that “religion and government must stay separate for the benefit of both,” a meaning that bears little resemblance to the actual wording of the First Amendment.

AU was founded in 1947 under the name Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State (POAU); the chief object of its derision at that time was the Catholic Church. Eventually POAU shortened its name -- first to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and then to its current name, Americans United.

AU’s founders included members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the American Secular Humanist Association, and the American Ethical Union, along with other leading liberals of the day. They created AU in reaction to a 1947 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Everson v. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing, where the Court ruled that a New Jersey law authorizing school boards to reimburse parents for the bus transportation of children attending parochial schools did not violate the Constitution.

AU's first executive secretary was Joseph Martin Dawson, a Baptist pastor and social activist who opposed federal aid to church hospitals and sectarian instruction in public schools. The organization's general counsel, Paul Blanshard, penned American Freedom and Catholic Power, a best-selling anti-Catholic screed which claimed that parochial schools threatened to subvert America’s common culture. And its first president, Methodist Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam, was a past president of Planned Parenthood and chaired the Massachusetts branch of the pro-communist Council of American-Soviet Friendship.

AU identifies itself as a non-sectarian and non-partisan organization that “refrain[s] from making any statements supporting or opposing any candidate or party, including publishing voter guides about candidate stances on church-state issues.”

Based on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the AU staff consists of more than 40 employees. The organization has more than 75,000 members distributed across all 50 states. It is funded by donations from members and others who support its objectives, and by grants from such entities as the Deer Creek Foundation, the Foundation for the Carolinas, and the Esther A. & Joseph Klingenstein Fund. AU receives no government funding.

2001-APR-10: Faith-based initiatives: A poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that:
bullet68% of American adults are concerned that faith-based programs might lead to too much government involvement with religion.
bullet60% are concerned that religious groups funded with public money would proselytize recipients of social services, as allowed in President Bush's faith-based initiative program.
bullet78% were opposed to another major component in Bush's proposal which would have allowed religious groups to discriminate in hiring staff by only hiring people who share their beliefs.
bulletMost approve in principle of government funding of social programs run by religious groups

Saturday, November 26, 2011

London pastors put lives at risk with HIV ‘cure’

A London church has been putting lives at risk by telling HIV-positive worshippers to stop taking their medication because God had "cured" them.
Undercover reporters posing as HIV sufferers were told they could be healed by pastors at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Southwark.
After a "healing" process where the pastor sprayed water in their faces and shouted over them asking for the devil to come out, the "patients" were told they could discard their medication.
Sky News, which carried out the exposé, said at least six patients in the UK have died after being told by various churches to stop taking HIV tablets.
Jason Warriner of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust said: "We're really worried to hear that individuals have been given false information about HIV treatments which, dangerously, put lives at risk.
"It's essential anyone living with HIV keeps taking the treatments that they've been prescribed by their health professionals to prevent severe ill health."
Former health secretary Lord Fowler, who led the HIV and Aids awareness drive in the Eighties, said the church's message was dangerous.
He said: "It is foolish advice and it is tragic advice because the consequences of this kind of advice can only be that people pass on HIV and can only be seriously bad for the individual concerned - including death."
Sky sent three undercover reporters to the church, where they said they were HIV positive and were told they could be healed.
They are filmed giving "before and after testimonies", which are put on the church's website.
One of the pastors, Rachel Holmes, told a reporter that if symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea persist, it is a sign of the virus leaving the body.
In a statement, the Synagogue Church of All Nations said: "We have not done anything to bring about healing, deliverance or prosperity. If somebody is healed, it is God who heals."

It is scary stories like this that show the power that religion holds over people and the harm that power can provide. 

Why do only Muslims get to pray in public schools?

Guess what, they are not the only religious group that is allowed to pray in schools.

In 1984, the Federal Equal Access Act was passed, affecting all public secondary schools that received federal funds.

It required that religious clubs be permitted in public schools if other clubs which were also not related to the curriculum were already allowed. These religious groups had to be run by the students themselves, and could not be convened during class time. Membership in the group had to be voluntary.

This would allow Christian students to also pray in school. It simply does not allow the school itself to be in charge, you know, like when the Muslim children pray by themselves.

There is a secret about prayer in the public schools that the religious right doesn't want you to know: school prayer, like most religious activity, is legal. Completely, thoroughly, and absolutely legal. It was not outlawed in the 1960's; it has never been outlawed. Despite repeated claims to the contrary, the Supreme Court has not made schools a "religion free zone," has not "kicked God out of the public schools," has not "made it illegal to speak about God," and has not "made it illegal to pray in school." These claims are false, and the religious right knows this. Rather, the religious right popularizes these claims to make religious persons believe that their rights are being suppressed in the public schools, thereby gaining support for their political program.
How do we know this? Because when the religious right organizations go to court to argue in favor of the rights of students they quote the law correctly. In court they will argue that there is nothing in the school prayer decisions of the 1960s that prevents students from praying. 

The law with respect to school prayer is clear: when organized, supported, or required by the state, school prayer is illegal. 
Briefly, state-supported prayer amounts to the establishment of a religious practice. This is true whether the state actually prescribes the prayer to be said, or allows teachers and students to compose the prayer as they see fit. Let's use the famous Engle v. Vitale case to illustrate our argument.
Engle v. Vitale revolved around a New York law that required school officials to publically recite each school day the following prayer, composed by the New York Board of Regents:
  • Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.
The Court correctly ruled that the New York law violated the First Amendment. Indeed it's difficult to image how the Court could have ruled otherwise. Prayer is, without question, a religious exercise, and when the state requires that a prayer be recited, it is establishing a religious practice. Additionally, it violates free exercise for the state to expose students to prayer against their will, or to force students to absent themselves from the classroom to avoid a prayer they do not want to hear. Finally, please note that, despite the fact that this prayer was written to be as general and non-sectarian as possible, it still establishes religious beliefs, beliefs that surely do not reflect the religious sensibilities of many students. Christians, for example, might justifiably complain that the prayer is not offered in the name of Christ, while polytheists and adherents to new-age religions might have problems with the implied assertion that there is a single God, or that this God is almighty. And non-theists would certainly object to repeating words that imply that they are "dependent" on a God in which they do not believe. No matter how charitably one views the facts of Engle v. Vitale, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Regents' prayer would not be acceptable to many students.

  • Prayer does not establish a religion. Correct. It establishes a religious practice, which is just as illegal. The First Amendment does not proscribe the establishment of areligion; it proscribes establishment of religion generally. It is no more correct to argue that the state can require prayer so long as that prayer is non-sectarian than it is correct to argue that the state can require that you attend a religious service once a month so long as the state does not designate the service you have to attend.
  • It doesn't harm a kid to have him/her pray. "Harm" is in the eye of the beholder. An atheist might very well consider it harmful to expose kids to religious doctrines he/she considers false and destructive. Similarly, in the years before Engle v. Vitale Catholic parents definitely considered it harmful when their children were asked to recite the Protestant version of the Lord's prayer, or were asked to read from the King James Version of the Bible which, to Catholic tastes, is translated incorrectly.
  • Proscribing prayer deprives parents of their right to have prayer if they want it. No it doesn't. Prayer remains completely legal in the public schools. A parent can still instruct a child to prayer in the tradition of his or her family, and teachers must legally respect the student's right to pray so long as those prayers do not disrupt the educational mission of the schools. On the contrary, the only thing limited by proscribing organized prayer in the schools is the rights of some parents to determine whatother kids will have to pray.
  • Why not just set aside a time for prayer in the morning and let kids pray as they want? Generally, such proposals are legal, so long as the time is not set aside exclusively for prayer. Moment of silence laws, for example, have been found to be legal by the Supreme Court. But if the statute sets the time aside for prayer, it amounts to the state favoring prayer over other activities, and further declares that prayer is an appropriate activity at certain times and places in the school day. The state has no right to do either of these things.

Would a school prayer amendment even work?

Aside from issues of constitutionality, there remains the issue of whether school prayer would be beneficial, either for the public schools or for the nation as a whole. Supporters of school prayer sometimes assume that the value of prayer is self-evident, but we are skeptical. In fact, school prayer has the potential to be a profoundly negative force in American life. Consider the following:
  • School prayer would be divisive. In the years before state-supported prayer was made illegal, religious minorities were made to feel uncomfortable and excluded by mandated prayer. Jews, in particular, chaffed under the requirement to either pray Christian prayers, read from Christian Bibles, or be forced to stand in the hall. Catholics resented the protestant flavor the public schools. Other minorities (in particular, Jehovah's Witnesses) were made to feel ostracized by prayers that were not addressed to Jehovah. In recent decades the number of adherents to non-Western religions has significantly increased (it is now estimated that there are more Muslims in the United States than Jews). Finally, some students have no faith in religion at all, and take exception to being forced to participate in any type of religious ritual. It's difficult to image how school prayer in these circumstances can be anything other than a point of division between students, parents and teachers. In today's society, this is something we do not need.
  • School prayer will compromise the religious rights of teachers. Some school prayer proposals do not specify that the state will write prayers for students. Rather, these proposals allow local school boards to compose prayers, or would allow teachers to compose them. In any of these circumstances the religious rights of teachers will be compromised. It is bad enough for students to be required to sit through prayers they find to be unacceptable; it is intolerable to be forced as part of one's job to lead others in these prayers. It is equally intolerable to force non-believing teachers to lead prayers. Finally, believing teacher may well feel pressured to make their prayers generic in circumstances in which they are asked to compose prayers of their own, rather than offend their students. School prayer, in other words, will place teachers in an uncomfortable situation into which they ought not to be forced.
  • There is no evidence school prayer will improve our nation's moral life. Contrary to common assumptions, there is simply no evidence that school prayers will go any distance whatsoever in improving American morality. We do not understand how the rote repetition of a one or two line prayer with little theological content is going to do anything to challenge students to lead ethical lives. While we believe in the efficacy of prayer, we doubt that prayer means anything to people when they are forced to say it, and when it says nothing of consequence. Pre-World War II Germany is an apt illustration of our point. In the years before and after the rise of Hitler, German school children were required to say a non-sectarian prayer every morning, and received religious instruction for at least one hour a week in the public schools (Catholics, Protestants, and Jews were separated into groups and were taught by state approved religious leaders). Despite this training (which is considerably more than that proposed by American school prayer advocates), Germany still opted for Nazism, and still implemented the final solution. School prayer did not stop public evil in Germany. Neither, we think, will it stop public evil in the United States.

In 1995, responding to a directive from the President, the federal Department of Education issued a memo to public school superintendents which discussed religious freedoms in schools.

Some principles stated were:

  • students can read religious books, say a prayer before meals and pray before tests, etc. to the same extent that they may engage in comparable secular non-disruptive activities
  • In informal settings (cafeterias, hallways, etc.) students may pray and may discuss religious topics with other students, just as they may talk about other subjects
  • Students can proselytize with other students; however they cannot engage in religiously motivated harassment
  • No student can be coerced into participating in any religious activity
  • Teachers and administrators cannot discourage or promote religious activity because of its religious content; this applies to anti-religious activity as well.
  • Schools can teach about religion and its role in society; they can teach about the Bible as literature. But they cannot provide religious instruction.
  • Students can distribute religious literature in the same way that they are permitted to distribute non-religious literature.
  • Students may be released to attend religious classes at other location; teachers and administrators cannot encourage or discourage students from taking advantage of such classes
  • Schools can teach about common civic values, but they must be neutral with respect to religion.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Education updated and re-issued the 1995 guidelines on religion in schools. Sections that dealt with student garb and religious excusals were revised to reflect the Supreme Court's finding that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was unconstitutional.

Because that act was no longer in force, schools were now freer to decide whether students could wear religious garb such as yarmulkes and head scarves to class. Schools now could also allow or not allow students to be excused from classes that conflict with their religious beliefs.

Secretary Riley made three recommendations to local school boards and teachers:

  1. to recognize that in an increasingly diverse religious society that every school board should adopt a policy on religious expression
  2. to inform teachers early on about the role of religion in public schools through workshops and schools of education
  3. to actively inform parents about student's rights to religious expression as well as freedom of conscience.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Red Heifer

A heifer is a young female bovine (cow) prior to the time that she has produced her first calf. God has specified a "red heifer" for the purification of the Israelites whenever they were "unclean". NOTE::: Please see Hatikva Ministries web site for the LATEST information on this subject. Thank you.

Red Heifer

Red Heifer: The Bible
Red Heifer: The Details
Red Heifer: The Rancher
Red Heifer: Israel Today
Hatikva Ministries: The Story

Red Heifer: The Bible

The red heifer provided a means for the congregation of Israel to purify themselves for presentation to God. It is this strong connection which drives the Ultra Orthodox Jews of today to prepare and purify themselves for the coming priesthood and temple services.

The red heifer must meet certain physical criteria and must be sacrificed in a certain way. Once sacrificed, the ashes are to be mixed with "clean" water and it is this mixture which is sprinkled over the "unclean". Numbers 19 is the basis for understanding and the direction from God for the physical purification. The following bible reference is taken from the King James Version.

Numbers 19

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
2 This [is] the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein [is] no blemish, [and] upon which never came yoke:
3 And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and [one] shall slay her before his face:
4 And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times:
5 And [one] shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn:
6 And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast [it] into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall beunclean until the even.
8 And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even.
9 And a man [that is] clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay [them] up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it [is] a purification for sin.
10 And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever.
11 He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.
12 He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean.
13 Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness [is] yet upon him.
14 This [is] the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that [is] in the tent, shall be unclean seven days.
15 And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, [is] unclean..
16 And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be uncleanseven days.
17 And for an unclean [person] they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel:
18 And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip [it] in the water, and sprinkle [it] upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave:
19 And the clean [person] shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purifyhimself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.
20 But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he [is] unclean.
21 And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even.
22 And whatsoever the unclean [person] toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth [it] shall be unclean until even.
Christians should understand the above scriptures represented a "type" of Christ. For the sacrifice of the "red heifer" was the forerunner to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ which could do so much more than "purify the flesh". Remember that the red heifer was to be "without spot" (Num 19:2). Compare this with the following passage written by Paul in the book of Hebrews; he explains it well:

Hebrews 9

13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Red Heifer: The Details

According to the Bible:

    A. The red heifer (Num 19:2):
    • Must be without blemish
    • Must be without defect
    • Must never have worn a yoke
    B. The sacrifice (Num 19:3-7):
    • Must be performed outside the camp
    • The blood must be sprinkled seven times in front of the tabernacle
    • The ENTIRE heifer must be burned before the priest
    • Cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet are added to the fire
    • The priest washes his clothes and bathes
    C. The Water of Purification (Num 19:9):
    • Prepared by a man who is clean
    • He gathers the ashes
    • (Implied) He adds water to the ashes (19:17)
    • He stores it outside the camp in a clean place
    • The water is for the congregation of Israel
    • He washes his clothes and bathes
It is this water, The Water of Purification, which is required by the Israelites today. It is needed to "purify" today's Levitical priesthood and to "purify" the temple mount in preparation for the Third Temple.

Red Heifer: The Rancher

In the early 1990's, a cattle rancher ran across the scriptures describing the red heifer. As he pondered what he had just read, he realized that he indeed had that kind of heifer.

Coming into contact with a group from Israel, he began communicating and eventually worked a deal to provide them with the biblically defined red heifer.
The original agreement was to provide 200 pregnant red heifers, which would be shipped via ocean lined to Jerusalem. Statistically, these pregnant heifers would produce 100 bulls and 100 heifers. The resultant 100 heifers would become the "potential" sacrificial stock.
Time went by, and this event did not occur. The interest and motivation had by no means disappeared but are fervently still there. The plan had now reached a much grander scale. The goal now is to repopulate the nation of Israel with this man's breed of cattle stock. So instead of 200 heifers, they are planning to ship thousands of heifers to Jerusalem.
As you read this, the heifers are grazing in the plains of Nebraska. I have been told that they are very gentle and a very good breeding stock. They have never been haltered, worn a blanket and are visually spotless and free from defect. A rabbi from Israel will be examining them this spring (1997).
The rancher is Clyde Lott. He has said that they are looking for "prayerful minded people" to help out with their efforts. He also said that they are "set on go" and ready for the process of shipment and repopulating to begin.
Most of this information has been obtained from a tape interview of Clyde Lott by Hatikva Ministries and from telephone conversations with him.

Red Heifer: Israel Today

There is quite a bit of excitement in the air regarding the recent birth of a red heifer in Israel. This news has rocked the world in a way that it doesn't fully realize .... yet.

Arutz-7 News: Tuesday, March 18, 1997

The birth of a red heifer (cow) in a farm in the religious youth village of Kfar Hasidim (near Haifa) has excited sectors in the religious community. A delegation of some 25 experts, including Rabbis Yisrael Ariel and Yoseph Elboim, visited the farm last week to examine the six-month old cow, and concluded that it is in fact an acceptable red heifer, according to Torah requirements. However, the cow must be at least two years old before it can be used. Until then, the cow will be carefully watched to ensure that nothing occurs to invalidate its status. According to Biblical law, the cow's ashes are used for purification from certain forms of impurity, and is therefore a prerequisite for the renewal of Holy Temple service.


The birth of a red heifer in Israel is being hailed by religious Jews as a sign from God that work can soon begin on building the Third Temple in Jerusalem.
A team of rabbinical experts last week confirmed that the animal, born six months ago on a religious kibbutz near the north Israeli port of Haifa, meets the correct Biblical criteria for a genuine holy cow. According to the Book of Numbers (XIX: 2-7), the animal is needed for an ancient Jewish purification ritual.
"Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke," says the fourth book of the Old Testament, also part of Jewish holy scripture, the Torah.
The heifer will be slaughtered and burned, and its ashes made into a liquid paste and used in a ceremony which religious Jews believe they must undergo before they can enter the old Temple site in Jerusalem to start building a new structure.
Since Herod's Temple was destroyed by the Roman emperor Titus in AD 70, no flawless red heifer has been born within the biblical land of Israel, according to rabbinical teaching.
The birth of the animal, to a black-and-white mother and a dun-colored bull, is being hailed as a "miracle" by activists who want to rebuild the Third Temple and prepare the way for the Jewish messiah's entry to Jerusalem.
The faithful will need to wait until the heifer is at least three before it can be used in a ritual sacrifice. That would enable religious Jews to start the new millennium (a Christian event, but still regarded as portentous) in a state of purity.
News of the red heifer's appearance, however, will not be well received by Muslims. The site of the old Jewish temples in the Holy City is now occupied by one of Islam's holiest shrines, the Dome of the Rock. Jewish extremists want to destroy the Dome and the adjoining Al-Aqsa mosque to make way for a new temple. In 1985 a group of Jewish terrorists were jailed in Israel for planning to destroy the Dome with high explosives.
But Jewish activists say they regard it as their divine mission to build a new Temple. "We have been waiting 2,000 years for a sign from God, and now he has provided us with a red heifer," said Yehudah Etzion, the ringleader of the Eighties' plot to blow up the Dome, who was present at last week's inspection of the red heifer at Kfar Hassidim. "There were a couple of little white hairs which worried us, but the rabbis are satisfied that it is the red heifer referred to in the Bible," said Mr Etzion. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (London) 3/1

Boston Globe 04/06/97 (p A1)
By Ethan Bronner, Globe Staff

In photo: Rabbi Shmaria Shore examines a red heifer seen by some as a sign for Jews to rebuild the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. (Globe Photo/Heidi Levine)KFAR HASIDIM, Israel - She stares out at the world through dewy eyes, stumbling on awkward legs, dipping into her trough with abandon, oblivious to the soaring hopes and apocalyptic fears that have spread with the news of her birth.
Watched over by an armed guard in a skullcap and visited by rabbis and other seekers of meaning, this rust-colored six-month-old heifer is hailed as a sign of the coming of the Messiah and decried as a walking atom bomb.
Of a variety believed extinct for centuries, the red heifer is seen by some as the missing link needed for religious Jews to rebuild their ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Sacrificing the animal in its third year and using its ashes in a purification rite would allow Jews to return 2000 years later to the Temple site, a spot holy to both Jews and Muslims.
With tensions already high over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to build a Jewish neighborhood in the section of Jerusalem Palestinians consider theirs, many fear that the calf's arrival could create an explosive situation.
``That cow represents the risk of a massive religious war,'' said Avraham Poraz, a member of Parliament from the leftist Meretz Party. ``If the fanatics get a hold of it and try to take over the Temple Mount, God knows what will happen. It only takes a few crazies to endanger all our lives.''
In terms of historic gravity, some have drawn a loose analogy with Dolly, the cloned Scottish sheep. But if Dolly stands on the frontier of science, the calf of Kfar Hasidim harks back to the most ancient tribal ritual.
Born to a black-and-white mother and brown father on a northern Israeli farm run by a religious high school for troubled and orphaned students, the calf was brought to the attention of Rabbi Shmaria Shore shortly after its birth.
Shore, a native of Providence, said he had his doubts and, after checking with ancient texts, invited a number of rabbis from Jerusalem to come to give their views. They did so several weeks ago and quickly spread word that something truly miraculous seems to have occurred.
To understand the significance of the heifer requires a knowledge of long-abandoned practices in the extinct Temple as well as a grasp of the place the Temple holds in the collective unconscious of religious Jews.
For strictly Orthodox Jews, the Temple stands for the Jewish people's direct link to God, its place as His chosen people. Built by King Solomon around 950 BC and destroyed and rebuilt and expanded over the succeeding centuries until its final destruction by the Romans in AD 70, the Temple was the center of Jewish life where daily animal sacrifices were overseen by the priestly classes of Levites and Cohens.
The Temple's destruction meant that Jewish religious life had to be re-created. Prayer, Torah study and good works became substitutes for animal sacrifice as a means of seeking favor and forgiveness from God, a development that many modern Jewish thinkers have welcomed. But a yearning for the days of the Temple has never entirely died.
One byproduct of Israel's victory in the 1967 war that brought the Old City of Jerusalem under Israeli control is the revival of interest among a small number of Jews in rebuilding the Temple because of the link they believe it offers to God and the cosmic centrality it might signify for Jews everywhere.
This has caused concern not only because few Jews wish to return to animal sacrifices and priestly classes but because the site of the Temple has been occupied for the past 1,300 years by the third-holiest shrine in Islam, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques.
Holy to Muslims and Jews
Those mosques were built when Islam spread through the region in the 7th century. Most scholars say the mount was chosen for their location precisely because of the belief that it was a holy place. The Prophet Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven from there.
A few Jewish fanatics have been caught trying to blow up the mosques to make room for a new Temple that would anchor a renewed Jewish kingdom and trigger the arrival of the Messiah. Most everyone else believes such a move would launch a war with the world's 1 billion Muslims.
The fear of such an act is nonetheless keen. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat recently showed a meeting of the Islamic Conference Organization in Pakistan a photo montage sold by Temple advocates that depicts the mount with the ancient Temple in the place of the two mosques.
Arafat indicated that the current battle over a Jewish housing project in East Jerusalem is but the first step on a path leading to the new Temple. Last September, when Israel opened a new exit to an archeological tunnel near the mount, Muslims rioted, saying the Jews were seeking to bring down the mosques.
The vast majority of Jews fiercely reject dreams of returning to the mount, content to have the one remnant of the Temple, the Western Wall, as a symbolic link to a bygone era and leave it at that. And they have been generally unworried about the zeal of a handful of Temple faithful for two reasons.
First, to avoid friction with Muslims, the Israeli government forbids Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. And second, the rabbis have ruled that religious Jews may not even walk on most of the mount for fear that, in their impure state, they will pollute the holiest of earthly places.
But that is where the new heifer comes in.
In the days of the Temple, all who entered it had to be made spiritually clean by being sprinkled with a substance whose main ingredient came from the ashes of a red heifer burned in its third year.
A rare breed
The sages described the heifer as a rare breed. Only nine were recorded in religious texts to have existed and the strain has long been assumed extinct, thus making it impossible to contemplate a return to Temple ritual.
Orthodox Jews still pray three times a day for the rebuilding of the Temple. But, Jewish scholars say, most have not taken the prayer literally.
``It has always been a kind of nostalgia,'' remarked Daniel Sperber, an Orthodox Jew and professor of Talmud at Bar Ilan University, outside Tel Aviv. ``Most people relate the rebuilding of the Temple with the coming of the Messiah. Until he turns up, we don't have to worry much about it.''
But most religious Jews consider the mount to be an exceptionally holy, if temporarily occupied, spot. They will not speculate on when the Temple will replace the mosques but many believe that, one day, it will.
The creation of Israel and the recapture of Jerusalem have reawakened a belief among the rapidly growing ultra-Orthodox community that something divinely inspired is unfolding here. The red heifer is simply the next sign.
A dozen rabbis have examined the calf and said she is the long-awaited ritual heifer, meeting, so far, all the criteria described by the ancients. If the calf lives unblemished for another 18 months, she can theoretically be put to use.
``It is written that it is the 10th heifer that the Messiah will discover and here we have the 10th heifer. This is a clear sign that the Messiah is near,'' said Rabbi Ido Weber Erlich of Jerusalem in an interview on Israel Radio.
For the workers at The Temple Institute, on a cobblestone alley inside the rebuilt Jewish quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, the arrival of the heifer is an inspiration.
The institute recreates the implements of the Temple, from the pale flaxen robes worn by the priests to the golden incense jars and lyres used at prayers. There is already a portrait of the new heifer on the institute wall.
``For us, the heifer is a milestone,'' said Rabbi Menachem Makover, deputy director of the institute. ``During the diaspora, everything was missing. No one knew about the crown worn by the high priest, for example. Now we see that everything that was gone is slowly coming back.
``We used to say, `We don't have this,' or `We don't have that,' but that is no longer an excuse. We still have political problems with the Arabs. But from above someone is leading us to these tools. We didn't ask for the red heifer. Suddenly it came.''
This is the kind of talk that makes Arabs and many Israelis nervous.
David Landau, a journalist with the liberal daily newspaper Haaretz, and himself an Orthodox Jew, wrote an opinion piece recently titled, ``The Red Heifer: It's No Joke.'' in which he called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security services to take this problem in hand now.
Landau says that while a bullet to the head of the calf might be the ticket, less radical action might also be considered since any blemish or irregularity to the calf would ruin it for liturgical purposes.
Rabbi Shore, who presides over the religious school here, says the only execution carried out by Israel was that of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann 35 years ago and if the state were to do the same to the red heifer, ``I don't know whether I'd laugh or cry.''
Some rabbis are urging that the calf be used to breed a herd of red heifers so that such an attack not end what has begun.
Shore says the heifer's arrival poses other, still-unsolved problems, such as finding a ritually pure member of the priestly Cohen class to slaughter it. But many difficulties in the renewal of Jewish life in Israel have already been solved, he said, and this, too, might have a solution.
``Some people say, `Blow up the mosques,' but I don't see it that way,'' he said. ``The Temple is at the core of the spiritual life of the Jews, and it must come when the Jews are truly ready for it. Of course, rebuilding the Temple may come as something violent and hostile.
``The Temple Mount is the source of blessing for the entire world. It is not just a piece of real estate. So this opportunity we have must not be wasted.''

Hatikva Ministries:

The Story Several weeks(?) ago I received a newsletter from Israel all concerning the preparations and building of the Third Temple. In this newsletter was one sentence that said that Rabbi Ariel of the Temple Institute announced that a practice altar had been built and that a red heifer had been born. I checked several other sources quickly, but to no avail. There was nothing to be found for a couple of weeks. Then, one of the news services I receive from Israel came out with the news, about a paragraph in length. It was followed in the next two or three days with essentially the same information. The news services confirmed that Rabbi Ariel was in attendance for inspection and qualification of the red cow born at a kibbutz around Haifa named Kfar Hassidim. In fact, Rabbi Ariel was one of two rabbis who confirmed that this red heifer met all the restrictions to qualify as the 'parah adumah'. The article went on to say that one of the parents of the cow was black and white spot, the other parent was dun colored. No one expected a red cow from these parents. The birth, therefore, is regarded as miraculous. There were two white hairs on the cow that worried the rabbis at first, but did not disqualify the animal. The article further announced that the cow was about 6 months old.
We had always suspected that the rabbis were looking into alternatives to Clyde Lott's cows. After all, they don't owe us any information, and any we have received from them has been quite welcome. We have always regarded Clyde very highly, but it is clear that this red heifer is not of his herd, which has yet to take place as far as we know.
By this time, there are several news groups who have shared the news of the cow's birth, even news groups from Israel. There has been a great amount of interest and excitement generated in the past few weeks concerning this news.
My husband, Joseph Good, is in Israel even as I write this message. A couple of days ago he and the group he was with were able to see this cow. What follows is part of a letter I sent to one of our staff (and a copy to several friends). It is the account, as well as I could remember, of Joseph told me over the phone several hours after he had seen the red heifer.
Since talking with Joseph again, he said that the heifer is in isolation. In addition, he said her horns were small, as she is not full-grown, but they are pointed on the ends, indicating that they are not just nubs.
Hope this information is what you had hoped for. Keep in touch if I can be of further service.
Debbie Good
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a letter from Debbie Good. To reach her please contact Hatikva Ministries. Thank you.

Fun facts about Thanksgiving

The beginnings of the tradition:

A three-day feast with about 50 colonists and 90 Native Americans, the first Thanksgiving in 1621 didn't include mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie or cranberries. Deer, rabbit and squash graced the table, and historians believe that lobster, seal and swan may have been served as well. While fowl was on the menu, the bird of choice was probably not turkey.

If you want to prepare for Thanksgiving like a real Pilgrim this year, here's what you should do: Cancel the plane reservations. Stop jotting down recipes. Leave the libations alone. For the Pilgrims and Puritans, "thanksgiving" days were spontaneous and sober affairs. When friends arrived from overseas, European Protestants defeated Catholics in battle, or a bumper crop was reaped, the Pilgrims dedicated a day to thanking divine Providence. They would have considered it presumptuous to schedule a thanksgiving day in advance, said Francis Bremer, an emeritus professor of history at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. "It assumes that God is going to be good to you each particular year." The Pilgrims' days of thanksgiving were usually spent in church, singing psalms, listening to sermons and praying. Work and playful pastimes were forbidden. When God provided, the Pilgrims were serious about gratitude.

Presidents always  get involved:

American leaders called for days of thanks rather regularly during the 17th and 18th centuries. A celebration on a specific day every year didn't occur until President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. For nearly 40 years prior to the declaration, eminent writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," among other titles—led a campaign to make the holiday official.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of the month in an effort to spur shopping during The Great Depression. Met with vast public opposition, Roosevelt was forced to change the holiday back to the last Thursday in November just two years later.

The National Turkey Federation has given a turkey to the White House every Thanksgiving since 1947. Until 1989—when George H. Bush began the tradition ofpardoning the White House turkey—nearly every president chose to eat the bird. Spared turkeys spend the rest of their days in the happiest place on earth: Disneyland.

There must be turkey:

While "gobble" is the call most people associate with turkeys, the birds have at least 28 different known vocalizations. Other calls, including "yelps," "clucks," "putts," "cackles," "purrs," "hoots" and "hisses," are used to indicate danger, advertise the caller's sex, establish control and keep the flock together.

The average Thanksgiving turkey weighs 15 pounds and is comprised of 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat. The National Turkey Federationestimated that in 2007, 46 million turkeys—one-fifth of the annual total of 235 million—were eaten at Thanksgiving.

Despite popular belief, the tryptophan in turkey is probably not responsible for post-meal drowsiness. Thanksgiving sleepiness is more likely caused by drinking excess alcohol and eating a large, high-carbohydrate meal that the body must work hard to digest. While eating turkey on a completely empty stomach without any other food might make you a tad tired, when served as part of a hefty feast, the tryptophan's effect is negligible.

Though Thomas Jefferson selected the bald eagle as our national bird, Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey was a better candidate. A "bird of courage," a turkey, Franklin believed, "would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard." In comparison, he said the eagle had "bad moral character" and played a lesser role in early American life.

Making it more commercial:

Created by Charles Schulz in 1973 and originally airing on CBS, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving won an Emmy in 1974. Now shown on ABC every Thanksgiving night, the show is usually paired with another half-hour special. Since 2008, the accompaniment has been "The Mayflower Voyagers," an episode from the This Is America, Charlie Brown miniseries.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924 drew a quarter of a million people and featured costumed Macy's employees, professional bands, and animals from Central Park Zoo. Today, over 3 million people attend the parade, and another 44 million tune in on the tube.
Giant helium balloons were added to Macy's parade in 1927. While Macy's planned to release them into the sky following the parade, the balloons popped on their ascent. The following year, the release was successful, and the balloons floated above the region for several days. Any kid lucky enough to find one of the deflated balloons thereafter received a free gift from the department store.

Can it be Thanksgiving without football?

The tradition of holding a "Thanksgiving Classic" started in 1934, when the Chicago Bears defeated the Detroit Lions in front of 26,000 fans. Detroit's all-time record on the holiday is 33 wins, 36 losses and two ties, and the only time the Lions didn't play a game on Thanksgiving Day was when the NFL was on moratorium during World War II.

Can it be Thanksgiving if it is in Finland?

At this multi-national ISAF base you couldn’t help noticing that most of the tables in the Tent City cafeteria were filled with non-American soldiers – from Albanians to New Zealanders – all enjoying the culinary fare and not particularly missing their families because the day didn’t trigger those kinds of memories. "It’s not a holiday in Norway," said one soldier wolfing down a turkey leg, "but this is a chance to enjoy a good meal!’’

"In Finland we have Thanksgiving," said the only Finn on the base, a police trainer.
"Come on!" I yelled in disbelief.
"Yes, it’s about 5 years old. We took it from the Americans. I love the turkey and cranberry sauce!"