בהר

This week’s parsha is one of the shortest in the Torah, only including 57 psukim (verses).  One of the main themes discussed in the parsha is that of yovel, the Jubilee Year.  Every fiftieth year, all land would return to its original owner.  This included slaves, and the rabbis of the Talmud were eager to show just how important this was.  R’ Yochanan ben Zakai subtly denigrated the legitimacy of slavery as a practice by saying that the reason it is the ear that is pierced if a slave wishes to stay beyond his indentured period is because that ear heard Vayikra 25:55: “Because for Me Bnei Yisrael are slaves, they are My slaves…” and yet he [the slave in question] went and acquired a master for himself other than Hashem (Mussaf Rashi).  This is a clever exegetical technique which spells out pretty clearly that we are all slaves to Hashem – or, in modern parlance, we are all our own masters.

Not even a slave

Beyond the fiftieth year

Shall stay indentured

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