Review of Jason Olsen, “The Red Heifer in Israeli Judaism”

Jason Olsen, “The Red Heifer in Israeli Judaism,” paper available online at:

This was a paper read at an Association for Israel Studies (AIS) conference in 2010.  It seems somewhat amateurish, with a number of redundancies which could have been eliminated with some proofreading and polishing.  It is an assessment of the philosophies of contemporary Jewish factions about rebuilding the temple (The Third Temple) on the temple mount in Jerusalem and the necessity to cleanse the site and the people who would build it from ritual uncleanness through the ashes of a burned red heifer as specified in Numbers 19.  Active fundamentalists believe they should bring about these events by producing a red heifer and eliminating the Muslim presence on the Mount and purifying priests to rebuild the temple.  Others, more passive, believe that the third temple will come when the Messiah comes; some even believe an already built temple will descend with him.  This all began with the Israeli conquest of Jerusalem in the 1967 war, and was enhanced with the 1993 Oslo Accords, which threatened to discontinue Israeli settlement in the Occupied Territories.  The specific points of difference in the positions of the two groups regarding the rebuilding of the temple and the role of the red heifer are distilled at the conclusion of the paper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *