l'ilui nishmat R' Avraham ben Yona Ya'akov
“You should take for yourself a red heifer…” (19; 2)
It is not exactly clear what the word(s) ‘for yourself’ mean. In Parshat Tetzaveh where it states “You shall take olive oil for yourself” the Sages explain what it means. Here there is no explanation.
I found in the Yalkut here the following drasha:
G-d said to Moshe, ‘to you I will reveal the reason of the red heifer but for everyone else it will be a statute.
In other words, [G-d told Moshe] not to reveal the reason for the red heifer to anyone else so that is should remain a statute without explanation. This itself requires explanation, why should G-d be strict not to reveal the reason? There must be a reason for this.
Perhaps we can explain based on the Talmud (Brachot 9b) on the verse in parshat Shemot, “G-d said to Moshe ‘I will be that I will be’. G-d said to Moshe, ‘go and tell Israel that just as I was with them in the past during this slavery, so I will be with them in the future exiles’.” Moshe said back, ‘Master of the Universe, one suffering at a time is enough for them (in other words, why tell them now about future exiles to cause them pain?). G-d agreed with him, and said to Moshe that he should just tell them that ‘I will be’ sent me to you, and not ‘I will be as I will be’. He didn’t want to tell them about the future exiles, as we have explained.
The Yalkut here says that the red heifer hints at all the future exiles coming in later times. The word ‘heifer’ hints at Egypt, which is called “a beautiful calf” (Yeremiyahu 46; 20). ‘Red’ refers to Bavel, as the verse states “it is the head of gold, and the gold was red” (referring to Bavel). ‘Pure’ refers to Madai, because the kings of Madai were pure, who didn’t have their own idols to worship, apart from those they inherited from their ancestors. ‘That has no blemish’ refers to Greece. Alexander of Macedonia blessed G-d with his whole being. ‘That has never had a yoke on it’ refers to Nevuchadnezzar who didn’t accept the yoke of Heave and said “Who challenges me from the Heavens” (Tehillim 73; 25).
Therefore, based on Moshe’s claim that we brought earlier, to which G-d agreed, he should not reveal the pain that would happen to Israel in the future exiles, So regarding the red heifer, which hints at the future exiles, He said to him, ‘only to you will I reveal the reason, but for them it must remain a statute’ – so that they will not be pained. Look also at what we have written on parshat Bo (12; 13 and 13; 7).