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Mishpatim: Obedience and Responsibility

Updated: Feb 2, 2022


Parshas Mishpatim opens with the laws pertaining to Jewish slaves. The Pasuk (Shemos 21:2) writes that if one acquires an Eved Ivri (Hebrew slave), he will work for six years and then go free. If, however, the Eved Ivri says he does not want to be freed (21:5), his master must pierce his ear at the doorpost, and he will remain that master’s slave for life (21:6).


Many Rishonim are troubled by these laws and wonder why the Hebrew slave seems to be punished for wanting to opt out of freedom. And yet,