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Eglah Arufah

Breaking the Heifer’s Neck: A Bloodless Ritual for an Unsolved Murder

If a corpse is found in a field, and the killer is unknown, Deuteronomy 21 requires the elders of the closest city to break a heifer’s neck by a stream and declare that they did not spill “this blood.” How does this ritual of eglah arufah, “broken-necked heifer,” atone for Israel’s bloodguilt?


Yitzhaq Feder



Eglah Arufah: A Ritual Response to an Unsolved Murder

The law of the heifer whose neck is broken, eglah arufah, has puzzled both traditional and modern commentators. What is it meant to accomplish? How does it work?

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin



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