Avodah Zarah 24 - Making of a Red Heifer According to Rabbi Eliezer

Rabbi Eliezer says we should always suspect that an animal was sodomized by idol worshippers if they had a chance. How, according to him, can one ever make ashes of a red heifer? Consider the following story.

Dama ben Netinah was a non-Jew who exemplified respect to parents. The Sages wanted to buy from him a gem for the Kohen's breastplate for 600,000 golden coins. He refused, because the key from the jewelry box was under the pillow on which his father was sleeping. Next year, however, a red heifer was born among his cattle. He said to the Sages, "I know that you will pay me any money for it, but I only want the 600,000 that I lost."

How did they buy a cow from him? Rabbi Eliezer will answer that they watched it from the moment it was conceived. But maybe its mother was sodomized? - They watched the mother. But maybe its grandmother was sodomized? - We don't suspect that far. But how did they know that a red heifer would be born? - They would pass a glass of red liquid in front of her at the time of mating. Then why was it so expensive? - It had to be a cow with propensity to give birth to red heifers.

Art: Paul Gauguin - The Red Cow