376. While studying Torah, Rabbi Shimon examined the meaning of the verse, "And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer to a rough ravine...and shall break the heifer's neck in the ravine" (Devarim 21:4). According to the law, its head should be severed with a hatchet, THAT IS, WITH AN AX. Rabbi Elazar asks him why.
377. Rabbi Shimon wept and said, Woe to the world that has been lured after this, REFERRING TO THE HEIFER. BECAUSE OF THIS, THEY HAVE TO BREAK ITS NECK. Ever since the day that Adam was enticed by that evil Serpent, it obtained control over Adam and all the people in the world. And so the Serpent persecutes humankind, who cannot evade its inflictions - NAMELY THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH - until King Messiah appears. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, will revive those who sleep in the dust, as it is written, "He will swallow up death for ever" (Yeshayah 25:8), and, "I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land" (Zecharyah 13:2). But until then, He remains to seize the souls from all human beings WHO LIVE IN THIS WORLD.
378. Come and behold. It is written, "If a corpse is found slain..." (Devarim 21:1) The souls of all human beings are taken away by the Angel of Death. But if you say that the Angel of Death took away the soul of this person, WHO WAS FOUND SLAIN, you would be in error. He who killed him has taken his soul away before it was time for the Angel of Death to rule.
379. This is why it is written, "and the land cannot be cleansed" (Bemidbar 35:33). THE KILLERS are not satisfied that THE EVIL SERPENT inflicts punishments on the world without reason, and falsely accuses them constantly of sins so that they have to take away that which he is entitled to receive. But the Holy One, blessed be He, has Mercy on His children. This is why they sacrifice a heifer. In so doing, they correct TWO THINGS, (a) that the soul of the man was taken from him, REFERRING TO THE MAN FOUND SLAIN, AND (b) they prevent him from prosecuting the world.
380. We have here a deep and sublime secret, because a bull, a cow, calf, and a heifer all follow a supernal and secret pattern. Therefore, with the heifer, everything is properly atoned for. As it is written, "Our hands have not shed this blood..." (Devarim 21:7) Thus, we "have not shed" this blood, nor have we caused his death. As a result, they are free from any accusations. Thus, the Holy One, blessed be He, provides a solution for every problem in the world.