At the beginning of this week’s Parsha, we read about the Eved Ivri, the Jewish thief who is sold into slavery for six years because he is unable to pay back the value of the goods he stole. The Torah tells us (21:10) what happens if he wants to remain a slave after the six years are completed: “VeHigisho Adonav El HaElohim VeHigisho El HaDelet O El HaMezuzah, VeRatza Adonav Et Ozno BaMartzei’a, VaAvado LeOlam,” “And his master shall bring him to the Beit Din and shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore through his ear with the awl, and he shall serve him forever” (see Rashi and Rashbam). This Pasuk raises a question: why does the ear need to be pierced “on a door or on a Mezuzah?” Why not on any other surface?
The Kli Yakar offers an explanation for what the door and the Mezuzah really represent. He says that the door hints to the slave that Hashem opened the door for him to walk out of slavery and to live freely, but that he rejected the opportunity. The Mezuzah, the doorpost, hints to what is found in the text of a Mezuzah – the paragraph of “VeAhavta Eit Hashem Elokecha…,” “And you shall love Hashem your God…” The piercing of the ear on the Mezuzah is supposed to hint to the slave that his entire purpose in being an Eved Ivri was to learn to love Hashem. Instead, at the end of the six-year term, he still does not truly love Hashem; he loves his master, his wife (who is really a Shifchah Kenaanit assigned to him by his master), and his children (from this Shifchah).
We can learn two very important ideas from the piercing of the slave’s ear. The first lesson, which we see from the door’s message, is that Hashem constantly gives us opportunities to help ourselves, and it is our job to seize and take full advantage of these opportunities to better our lives. The second lesson comes from the Mezuzah’s message. Unlike the slave who becomes obsessed with materialism and fails to come to love Hashem through his servitude, we have to always remember, especially when all is well, that our ultimate goal in life is not to indulge ourselves in worldly pleasures; rather, it is to learn to love and fear the greatest Master of all, Hashem.