Love of the Land

For the week ending 6 March 2010 / 19 Adar I 5770

Ashkelon Home of the Red Cow

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
When we read this Shabbat the Maftir of Parshat Parah we recall an historical incident connected with the southern city of Ashkelon.

Dama ben Netina, a gentile who lived in Ashkelon, was blessed with the birth in his flock of a rare completely red cow, which was needed by the Jews for the purification process of those spiritually contaminated by contact with the dead.

Our Sages(Mesechta Kiddushin 31a) saw this as a reward for Dama's exemplary honoring of his father by refusing to wake him up a year earlier in order to sell at a fabulous price to the Jewish community a precious jewel needed for the priestly garments.

Although he realized that he could ask virtually any price for so rare a commodity as a completely red cow, Dama asked only for the amount of money he sacrificed for his father's honor.

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