We learn in Mishpatim that if a Jewish slave wants to remain a slave for more than 6 years, the master has to drill a hole in his ear next to the doorpost. If the master does this, then the slave is tied to the master until the end of the Yovel cycle.

Q: Why is he pierced in the ear? How is the piercing related to the extended slavery?

A: (Seen in Rabbi Frand the answer and Q&A of the Sefat Emet) It says in Gemara Kiddushin (22b?) that the ear did not hear the words of Hashem ‘avodai hem’ ‘they are My servants’. Since these slaves decided not to listen to these words but rather decided to be a slave to humans rather than to Hashem, so therefore, this slave must be pierced in the ear.

Q (Sfat Emet): Still, why the ear? Why not the brain? Surely the brain makes the decision to serve man rather than Hashem! The ear didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just a keli, a vessel, that carries out the brain’s command! A: Really, the brain didn’t decide. The brain never had the choice to serve Hashem since the ear did not let the words ‘avodai hem’ sink in, it did not let these words pass through to the brain. It came in one ear, and came out the same ear.

So too, each of us must really internalize our own experiences in order to help us make the right decisions. It’s very easy to let experiences not hit us. Our challenge is to ensure that we let it impact our personality, our actions and all our decisions.

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