What does a red heifer have to do with Jerusalem's temple? Why do some religious people believe its ashes are necessary for it to operate?
The Old Testament describes an unusual ceremony that required a red heifer in order to be performed correctly. God's requirements regarding the animal, spoken to Moses and Aaron, were, "Speak to the children of Israel that they bring you a red heifer, a perfect one, in which there is no blemish, on which no yoke ever came" (Numbers 19:2, HBFV throughout).
The red heifer was to be burned completely by fire and its ashes collected and stored, "for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin" (Numbers 19:9). The ashes of the red beast were then placed in a container where running water was put on them (verse 17) before being used by the priest.