Tuesday, June 30, 2020

What colour was the פרה אדומה?

          What colour was the פרה אדומה?

We find in the Torah and Chazal, the colour “אדום” can be translated
            a) the actual red colour (red wine)  
            b) the red family, colour (brown, orange etc.)

1)   (Bereishis 25 : 30) הלעיטני נא מן האדום האדום הזה
 It is called red lentils, but its colour is brown.

2)   (Zecharya  1:8)  איש רוכב על סוס אדום   -  סוסים אדומים –
(A man riding on a red horse-red horse)
There are no red horses. There are brown horses.

3)   (Succah 35b)  An Esrog that was peeled and looks like a red date.
 Rashi explains, "All peeled fruits נהפך לאדמימות"  (turn red).
 Peeled or cut fruits turn brown not red.
4)   (Bechoros 6a Rashi)  סתם סוסים אדומים   (horses are usually red)
   Highly unusual
The colour of a פרה אדומה was not fire engine red nor red wine red.
There are no red cows and there never was.
The cow was brown. The uniqueness of the Para Aduma
was not that it was red. It was unique by being completely 
brown, not having two strands of hair in a different colour
other than brown. (white-black)
One might argue and claim it still needs to be a certain shade
of brown (orange or light brown etc,) However, we don't
find in the Rambam qualifying what shade of אדום is כשר.

Assuming אדומה is brown there is no reason to insist it to
 be a specific shade.
Perhaps, instead of a "red heifer" it should be translated a "brown cow"


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