שִׁבְעַת יָמִים קֹדֶם לִשְׂרֵפַת הַפָּרָה מַפְרִישִׁין כֹּהֵן הַשּׂוֹרֵף אֶת הַפָּרָה מִבֵּיתוֹ לַלִּשְׁכָּה שֶׁעַל פְּנֵי הַבִּירָה, צָפוֹנָה מִזְרָחָה, וּבֵית אֶבֶן הָיְתָה נִקְרֵאת, וּמַזִּין עָלָיו כָּל שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים מִכָּל חַטָּאוֹת שֶׁהָיוּ שָׁם. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, לֹא הָיוּ מַזִּין עָלָיו אֶלָּא בַשְּׁלִישִׁי וּבַשְּׁבִיעִי בִּלְבָד. רַבִּי חֲנִינָא סְגָן הַכֹּהֲנִים אוֹמֵר, עַל הַכֹּהֵן הַשּׂוֹרֵף אֶת הַפָּרָה, מַזִּין כָּל שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים. וְעַל שֶׁל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים, לֹא הָיוּ מַזִּין עָלָיו אֶלָּא בַשְּׁלִישִׁי וּבַשְּׁבִיעִי בִּלְבָד:
Seven days before the heifer is burnt, the priest who will burn the heifer is separated from his house to a chamber that is in front of the [main temple] building, in the Northeast, and it was called the Stone House, and he is sprinkled all seven days with all the [ashes of the] chata'ot [red heifers] that were [ever] there. Rabbi Yose says: They would only sprinkle on him on the third and seventh [days] alone. Rabbi Chanina the deputy priest says: On the priest who burns the heifer, they sprinkle all seven days; and on the priest [who performs the sacrificial services] of Yom Kippur, they would only sprinkle on the third and seventh [days] alone.
חֲצֵרוֹת הָיוּ בִירוּשָׁלַיִם בְּנוּיוֹת עַל גַּבֵּי סֶלַע וְתַחְתֵּיהֶם חָלוּל, מִפְּנֵי קֶבֶר הַתְּהוֹם. וּמְבִיאִים נָשִׁים עֻבָּרוֹת וְיוֹלְדוֹת שָׁם וּמְגַדְּלוֹת שָׁם אֶת בְּנֵיהֶן. וּמְבִיאִים שְׁוָרִים וְעַל גַּבֵּיהֶן דְּלָתוֹת, וְתִינוֹקוֹת יוֹשְׁבִין עַל גַּבֵּיהֶן וְכוֹסוֹת שֶׁל אֶבֶן בְּיָדָם. הִגִּיעוּ לַשִּׁלּוֹחַ, יָרְדוּ וּמִלְאוּם, וְעָלוּ וְיָשְׁבוּ עַל גַּבֵּיהֶן. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, מִמְּקוֹמוֹ הָיָה מְשַׁלְשֵׁל וּמְמַלֵּא:
There were courtyards in Jerusalem built on rock and below them was hollow because of graves of the deep. [Stepping over a human grave causes ritually impurity, which can be blocked by a sufficiently wide space between the body and the covering; by building a courtyard over a hollow, one guarantees that any graves which are too deep to be discovered can not make people in the courtyard above impure.] They would bring pregnant women to there [these courtyards], and they would give birth there and raise their children there [to ensure that the children never become ritually impure]. They would bring oxen and on their backs slats [literally: doors] and the children would sit on top of them with stone cups in their hands. When they reached the Shiloach [stream], they would descend and fill [the cups], and remount and sit atop them. Rabbi Yose says: From his place [atop the oxen] one would lower and fill [his cup].
בָּאוּ לְהַר הַבַּיִת וְיָרְדוּ. הַר הַבַּיִת וְהָעֲזָרוֹת, תַּחְתֵּיהֶם חָלוּל, מִפְּנֵי קֶבֶר הַתְּהוֹם. וּבְפֶתַח הָעֲזָרָה הָיָה מְתֻקָּן קָלָל שֶׁל חַטָּאת, וּמְבִיאִין זָכָר שֶׁל רְחֵלִים וְקוֹשְׁרִים חֶבֶל בֵּין קַרְנָיו, וְקוֹשְׁרִים מַקֵּל וּמְסַבֵּךְ בְּרֹאשׁוֹ שֶׁל חֶבֶל, וְזוֹרְקוֹ לְתוֹךְ הַקָּלָל, וּמַכֶּה אֶת הַזָּכָר וְנִרְתָּע לַאֲחוֹרָיו, וְנוֹטֵל וּמְקַדֵּשׁ, כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּרָאֶה עַל פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, אַל תִּתְּנוּ מָקוֹם לַצְּדוֹקִים לִרְדּוֹת, אֶלָּא הוּא נוֹטֵל וּמְקַדֵּשׁ:
They [the children] would come to the temple mount and descend [from the oxen]. The temple mount and the temple courtyards underneaths were hollow due to the graves of deep [so that they temple service should be done in purity]. At the entrance to the temple courtyard there was a stone jug containing [the ashes] of a chatat [red heifer], and they would bring a male sheep and tie a rope between its horns, and tie a stick with branches at the top of the rope, and throw [the stick] into the jug, and hit the male [sheep] such that it would jump backwards [pulling the stick out of the jar and scattering some ashes], and he [the child] would take the [scattered] ashes and sanctify [them by mixing them with the water in the cup], an amount such that the ashes may be seen on the surface of the water. Rabbi Yose says: Do not give the Saducees [a second-temple-era sect who only believed in the validity of the written Torah and not the oral Torah] room to rebel [i.e. to make fun of us]; rather, he [the child] would remove [the ashes from the jug himself] and sanctify [them by mixing them with water].
לֹא הָיוּ עוֹשִׂין, לֹא חַטָּאת עַל גַּבֵּי חַטָּאת, וְלֹא תִינוֹק עַל גַּבֵּי חֲבֵרוֹ. וּצְרִיכִין הָיוּ הַתִּינוֹקוֹת לְהַזּוֹת, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי יוֹסֵי הַגְּלִילִי. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר, לֹא הָיוּ צְרִיכִין לְהַזּוֹת:
They would do neither one chatat on the back of another chatat, nor one child on the back of his friend. [i.e. if the purification process was performed for one red heifer, one would not then rely on that same process for another red heifer; rather the whole process would be repeated. Similarly, a child who was raised for the ritual for one heifer would not be used for another.] And the children were required to undergo sprinkling [to be purified]. Rabbi Akiva says: They were not required to undergo sprinkling.
לֹא מָצְאוּ מִשֶּׁבַע, עוֹשִׂין מִשֵּׁשׁ, מֵחָמֵשׁ, מֵאַרְבַּע, מִשָּׁלשׁ, מִשְּׁתַּיִם וּמֵאֶחָת. וּמִי עֲשָׂאָם. הָרִאשׁוֹנָה עָשָׂה משֶׁה, וְהַשְּׁנִיָּה עָשָׂה עֶזְרָא, וְחָמֵשׁ, מֵעֶזְרָא וָאֵילָךְ, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי מֵאִיר. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, שֶׁבַע מֵעֶזְרָא וָאֵילָךְ. וּמִי עֲשָׂאָן. שִׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק וְיוֹחָנָן כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל עָשׂוּ שְׁתַּיִם שְׁתַּיִם, אֶלְיְהוֹעֵינַי בֶּן הַקּוֹף וַחֲנַמְאֵל הַמִּצְרִי וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן פִּיאָבִי עָשׂוּ אַחַת אֶחָת:
If they could not find [the ashes] from [all] seven [red heifers, the seven that were made in times of the temple], they would use from six, from five, from four, from three, from two, or from one [depending on how many they found]. And who made these [seven]? The first Moses made, the second Ezra made, and five from Ezra and onward, according to Rabbi Meir. And the Sages say: Seven [were made] from Ezra and onward; and who made them? Shimon the righteous and Yochanan the high priest made two each, Elyehoeinai ben Hakof and Chanamel the Egyptian and Yishmael ben Pi'avi each made one .
וְכֶבֶשׁ הָיוּ עוֹשִׂים מֵהַר הַבַּיִת לְהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה, כִּפִּין עַל גַּבֵּי כִפִּין, וְכִפָּה כְנֶגֶד הָאֹטֶם, מִפְּנֵי קֶבֶר הַתְּהוֹם, שֶׁבּוֹ כֹהֵן הַשּׂוֹרֵף אֶת הַפָּרָה, וּפָרָה וְכָל מְסַעֲדֶיהָ, יוֹצְאִין לְהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה:
And they would make a ramp from the temple mount to the mount of anointing [the Mount of Olives], arches on top of arches, and [hollow] domes over the foundations, because of graves of the deep, for on it the priest who would burn the heifer, and the heifer and all its helpers would leave to the mount of anointing.
לֹא הָיְתָה פָרָה רוֹצָה לָצֵאת, אֵין מוֹצִיאִין עִמָּהּ שְׁחוֹרָה, שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ, שְׁחוֹרָה שָׁחֲטוּ. וְלֹא אֲדֻמָּה, שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ, שְׁתַּיִם שָׁחֲטוּ. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, לֹא מִשּׁוּם זֶה, אֶלָּא מִשּׁוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יט), וְהוֹצִיא אֹתָהּ, לְבַדָּהּ. וְזִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיוּ מַקְדִּימִים בְּרַגְלֵיהֶם לְהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה, וּבֵית טְבִילָה הָיָה שָׁם. וּמְטַמְּאִים הָיוּ אֶת הַכֹּהֵן הַשּׂוֹרֵף אֶת הַפָּרָה, מִפְּנֵי הַצְּדוֹקִים, שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ אוֹמְרִים, בִּמְעֹרְבֵי שֶׁמֶשׁ הָיְתָה נַעֲשֵׂית:
If the heifer did not want to leave, they could not lead it with a black [cow], lest [the public] say, "they slaughtered the black one." Nor [could they lead it] with a red one, lest they say, "they slaughtered two." Rabbi Yose says: Not for this reason, but rather because the verse says (Numbers 19:3), "And he shall take her out," [her] alone. And the elders of Israel would precede it by foot to the mount of anointing, and a house for ritual immersion was there. And they would make the priest who would burn the cow ritually impure because of the Saducees, so they would not say, "it was done by one for whom the sun had set." [There are various forms of ritual impurity for which to become totally pure, one must immerse in water and then wait until the next sunset. The Saducees believed that the priest who burnt the red cow needed to be totally pure such that he'd only be allowed to do it if he waited for sunset. The sages held that he is able to burn the cow, even after only immersing in water, thus they made him impure and had him immerse so that everyone could see that they were not following the opinion of the Saducees.]
סָמְכוּ יְדֵיהֶם עָלָיו וְאָמְרוּ לוֹ, אִישִׁי כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל, טְבֹל אֶחָת. יָרַד וְטָבַל וְעָלָה וְנִסְתַּפֵּג. וְעֵצִים הָיוּ מְסֻדָּרִים שָׁם, עֲצֵי אֲרָזִים וָאֳרָנִים וּבְרוֹשִׁים וַעֲצֵי תְאֵנָה חֲלָקָה. וְעוֹשִׂין אוֹתָהּ כְּמִין מִגְדָּל, וּמְפַתְּחִין בָּהּ חַלּוֹנוֹת, וַחֲזִיתָהּ מַעֲרָבָה:
They [the elders] would lean their hands on him [the priest] and say, "Our man, great priest, immerse once." He would descend and immerse and arise and dry. And wood was arranged there: wood of erez, oran, brosh [various types of cedar wood] and wood of smooth fig trees. And they would make from them a type of tower, and they would open windows [holes] in it, and it would face Westwards.
כְּפָתוּהָ בְחֶבֶל שֶׁל מֶגֶג וּנְתָנוּהָ עַל גַּב הַמַּעֲרָכָה, רֹאשָׁהּ בַּדָּרוֹם וּפָנֶיהָ לַמַּעֲרָב. הַכֹּהֵן עוֹמֵד בַּמִּזְרָח וּפָנָיו לַמַּעֲרָב. שָׁחַט בִּימִינוֹ וְקִבֵּל בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, בִּימִינוֹ הָיָה מְקַבֵּל וְנוֹתֵן לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ, וּמַזֶּה בִימִינוֹ. טָבַל וְהִזָּה שֶׁבַע פְּעָמִים כְּנֶגֶד בֵּית קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים. עַל כָּל הַזָּיָה, טְבִילָה. גָּמַר מִלְּהַזּוֹת, קִנַּח אֶת יָדוֹ בְּגוּפָהּ שֶׁל פָּרָה. יָרַד וְהִצִּית אֶת הָאֵשׁ בַּאֲלִיתוֹת. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר, בַּחֲרִיּוֹת:
They would tie [the heifer] with a rope of rubber and place it upon the pyre, its head in the South and its face Westward. The priest would stand in the East and his face Westward. He would slaughter with his right hand, and receive [the blood] with his left. Rabbi Yehuda says: He would receive with his right and [then] place it in his left. And he would sprinkle [the blood] with his right. He would immerse [his finger into the blood] and sprinkle seven times in the direction of the holy of holies. For each sprinkling a [separate] immersion. Upon finishing the sprinkling, he would wipe his hands on the body of the cow, descend [from the pyre] and ignite the fire with twigs. Rabbi Akiva says: with branches.
נִבְקְעָה, וְעָמַד חוּץ מִגִּתָּהּ. נָטַל עֵץ אֶרֶז וְאֵזוֹב וּשְׁנִי תוֹלַעַת. אָמַר לָהֶן, עֵץ אֶרֶז זֶה, עֵץ אֶרֶז זֶה. אֵזוֹב זֶה, אֵזוֹב זֶה. שְׁנִי תוֹלַעַת זֶה, שְׁנִי תוֹלַעַת זֶה. שָׁלשׁ פְּעָמִים עַל כָּל דָּבָר וְדָבָר. וְהֵם אוֹמְרִים לוֹ, הֵין וְהֵין, שָׁלשׁ פְּעָמִים עַל כָּל דָּבָר וְדָבָר:
It would split, [the heifer, due to the flames,] and he [the priest] would stand outside the pit [region designated for the burning], and he would take cedar wood, hyssop and worm silk. He would say to them [to the elders there], "Is this cedar wood? Is this cedar wood? Is this hyssop? Is this hyssop? Is this worm [silk]? Is this worm [silk]?" Three times for each one. And they would say to him, "Yes, and yes," three times for each one.
כְּרָכָן בִּשְׁיָרֵי הַלָּשׁוֹן וְהִשְׁלִיךְ לְתוֹךְ שְׂרֵפָתָהּ. נִשְׂרְפָה, חוֹבְטִין אוֹתָהּ בְּמַקְלוֹת, וְכוֹבְרִין אוֹתָהּ בִּכְבָרוֹת. רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל אוֹמֵר, בְּמַקָּבוֹת שֶׁל אֶבֶן וּבִכְבָרוֹת שֶׁל אֶבֶן הָיְתָה נַעֲשֵׂית. שָׁחוֹר שֶׁיֶּשׁ בּוֹ אֵפֶר, כּוֹתְשִׁין אוֹתוֹ. וְשֶׁאֵין בּוֹ, מַנִּיחִין אוֹתוֹ. הָעֶצֶם, בֵּין כָּךְ וּבֵין כָּךְ הָיָה נִכְתָּשׁ. וְחוֹלְקִים אוֹתוֹ לִשְׁלשָׁה חֲלָקִים, אֶחָד נִתָּן בַּחֵיל, וְאֶחָד נִתָּן בְּהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה, וְאֶחָד הָיָה מִתְחַלֵּק לְכָל הַמִּשְׁמָרוֹת:
He would wrap them [the cedar wood, hyssop and worm silk] with the remainder of the strand [of worm silk] and throw them into her [the heifer's] fire. Once burnt, they would beat it [the remains] with sticks, and sift it with sieves [to produce fine ashes]. Rabbi Yishmael says: with stone slabs and with stone sieves they would do it. Black [charcoal] containing ashes, they would crush it. And [charcoal] not containing [ashes], they would leave [at the pyre]. The bones, either way [whether or not they contained ashes] would be crushed. And they would divide [the ashes] into three portions: one would be placed in the cheil [a low fence and area around the Temple, which served as a boundary, beyond which entry to those impure was prohibited], and one would be placed on the mount of anointing, and one would be distributed among all the priestly rotations.