Mishpatim and its Connection to the Giving of the Torah
The first parsha to follow the giving of the Torah is Mishpatim.
It stands to reason that this parsha would discuss a basic, if not monumentally important, subject consistent with the extraordinary nature of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, history’s most significant event.
However, when we look at the opening verses of Mishpatim we discover a subject that is anti-climactic: the Eved Ivri-a Hebrew Servant; a Jew who was sold as an indentured servant for the duration of six years. This person could have been sold either by the courts to pay for a theft, or he could have sold himself because of poverty.
If he wants to stay beyond the six year indenture period, the Torah says the following should be done to him:
“His master shall bring him to the judges and shall bring him to the door, or unto the doorpost and his master shall bore through his ear with an awl…”
Rashi comments here that the master would bore the hole in the servant’s right ear and not the left.
Rashi explains why his ear should be bored:
“The ear that heard at Mount Sinai ‘You shall not steal’ and he went and stole, let it be bored. And if he sold himself [because of poverty]: An ear that heard at Mount Sinai “for the children of Israel are servants unto Me,” and he went and acquired a master for himself, let it be bored.
Why is it that the servant’s ear is bored and pinned to the door and why specifically the right ear?
The following is partially based on an explanation given by Rabbi Yonoson Eibushitz (a famed 18th century rabbi) in his work, Tiferes Yehonoson.
Two Forms of Marriage
One of the laws concerning a Hebrew Servant is that his master can give him a non-Jewish maid-servant as a wife for the duration of the six years he serves as an indentured servant.
One of the conditions for this “marriage” is that the servant has to be married already. Why is this so?
Presumably, this was a way of deterring any would-be thief from stealing; knowing how a forced marriage with a total stranger would disrupt his own family structure.
However, upon deeper reflection this unusual marriage, which is an exception to the general rule against intermarriage, was there to contrast this union with an ideal marriage.
A real marriage is one of unity. Marriage, according to the Zohar, is where two half souls separated at birth are reunited at the time of their marriage.
Moreover, a real marriage reflects the unity of G‑d.
The relationship between the unity in marriage and the unity of G‑d works in two directions:
When we are aware of G‑d’s unifying presence in our home, it solidifies and cements our relationship with our spouse. By contrast, a home in which G‑d’s singularity is absent will be more prone to marital tension and strife.
Conversely, when the relationship with our spouse is one of unity suffused with mutual love and respect, we help generate G‑d’s unified presence in our homes and lives.
The key word that describes this unified atmosphere of the marriage is echad, which means “one” and which appears in the very first description of marriage in Genesis:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they shall become one-echad flesh.”
The key word here is echad, which also appears in the Shema where we proclaim G‑d’s oneness.
There is, however, another model for marriage; the negative model of marriage between the Hebrew Servant and a non-Jewish maidservant.
By definition, this cannot be a true union.  First, this would be a coerced marriage, and second, the bride would be a servant who hails from a pagan culture, as was the case in ancient times when this practice was followed.
This flawed relationship would be a reflection of a fragmented and divided spiritual experience for the non-Jewish maidservant was the product of a pagan community; one in which the people violate the Torah’s command, “do not bow down to another G‑d.” The word “another-acher” used here is very close to the word echad. Instead of the Hebrew letter daled at the end of the word echad, we find the Hebrew letter reish. Daled and reish are very similar in their appearance. The only difference is that thedaled has a tiny protrusion on the right side of its upper line, which the reish lacks.
Marriage to this woman, who comes from another nation-acher and who most likely had worshipped other g-ds, represents a pseudo marriage; one that will inevitably lead to disunity in their relationship.
When a person steals or becomes so impoverished that he considers becoming a servant to other people instead of recognizing G‑d as his only master, he has degenerated to the level of acher. He has tragically exchanged echad for the diametrically opposite acher.
Why The Door?
This explains why the servant has his ear bored by the door. The Hebrew word for door is deles, which contains the same consonants as the letter daled.
Boring his ear onto the door was a stark reminder for this wayward servant of the error of his ways. He has lost touch with the daled of the word echad and exchanged it for a different doorway, a reish; he falls from echad to acher.
By pinning his ear to the door with an awl, the master made a crucial point to the servant.  It served as a reminder to him, imprinted in his flesh, that he had to reverse the acher mindset and return to an echad mindset.
The Right Ear
But the question still remains, why the right ear?
The face, which expresses one’s inner personality, consists of seven cavities or doors through which information enters our consciousness: two eyes, two nostrils, a mouth and two ears.
These seven portals are said to correspond to the seven double letters of the Hebrew Alphabet: beis, gimmel, daled, cof, pei, reish and tav [known by their acronym:beg’ed kapores]Accordingly, the right ear, which is the sixth portal, corresponds to the sixth letter, the reish.
By boring the right ear, corresponding to the letter reish, the servant is given a painful hint as to the moral and spiritual lapse which led him to such degeneration and degradation. It emphasizes his connection to the reish of the word acher and, thus, his failure to connect himself to its positive counterpart, the daled of echad.
One may add that the reish also connote poverty. The Talmud states that the only truly poor person is one who lacks the powers of knowledge and discernment. The servant’s lack of discernment between echad and acher is the ultimate statement of his poverty, leading him to sell and degrade himself.
Hence, the letter reish has a dual connotation: it symbolizes disunity and also represents impoverishment.
In truth, these explanations are complementary: impoverishment is a state in which there is a lack of knowledge of the oneness of G‑d.
How does this servant come to realize the extent of his fall? When he is forced to enter into a relationship with a true other, in the negative sense of the word; a relationship which is inherently flawed and is the antithesis of unity
The Hebrew Servant: Galus and Moshiach
The saga of the Hebrew servant provides us with a metaphor for our existence in exile and the way we will leave our exile through Moshiach.
When we are in exile, we enter into relationships with forces that are acher; “other” experiences and mindsets outside of the pale of Judaism. We forget the concept ofechad in our lives and become spiritually fragmented and degraded. We become servants to multiple alien influences and trends that come our way.
This exile phenomenon, connecting to the “other” forces of the world, is a significant cause of our society’s failed relationships.
What is the antidote to this otherness that locks us in the Galus mode?
The answer is we must find a parallel “other” dynamic that is rooted in holiness to counter the influence of the unholy “otherness.”
When we conduct ourselves in an “out of the box” holy otherness, we can transform our impoverished and discordant reish into a unified daled
“Everyone Return Except for Acher”
We can now understand an enigmatic passage in the Talmud describing the renegade rabbi, Elisha ben Avuyah, nicknamed “acher-the other” on account of his apostasy. When his former disciple Rabbi Meir beckoned him to return to Judaism, his reply was:
“Every day a heavenly voice emerges from Mount Sinai and declares, ‘return errant children.” When I hear it, it adds the caveat,” except for Acher.”
How could it be that G‑d would not accept his repentance?
The answer is that conventional repentance could not have sufficed for a man who was such an “other,” because he had strayed so far. Only through repentance of an extraordinary nature, could enable this acher-other to counter and remove his negative otherness.
Moshiach the Ultimate “Other”
One of the characteristics of Moshiach, the Maharal says, is that he too is an “other.” Moshiach, he writes, is described in the Talmud as a Metzora, a person afflicted with a skin disease which compels his isolation.
The Maharal explains that this means, metaphorically, that Moshiach is beyond the norm; he is isolated from the rest of society by his exaltedness.
Moshiach, therefore, has the power to transform his negative form of otherness into the most powerful positive otherness.
It is no coincidence that the words “eved ivri-Hebrew Servant” have the numerical equivalent in gematria as the word Moshiach.
If the Hebrew servant represents the nadir of otherness, Moshiach represents its zenith.  As such, he is empowered to transform the negative form of otherness into its most positive incarnation, thus enabling him to lead us to our imminent Redemption.