It is written: "Serve G‑d with fear." (Psalms 2:11) What is meant by "fear"? It is as is written: "The fear of G‑d is the beginning of wisdom." (Psalms 111:10) This [fear of G‑d] refers to that of the Heavenly Kingdom [for malchut is called "fear"], and for this reason, it is called the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom. And so this is where it all [sefirot and holiness] begin. What proves this? The hand Tefilin [which relates to malchut] is put on first [and then the Head Tefilin, which relates to tiferet and Zeir Anpin]. This is because one enters through Her [malchut] to the rest of [the sefirot of] holiness. If this [malchut] is not found by him, the celestial holiness cannot rest upon him. For this it writes, "Thus [lit. 'with this', the word "this" referring to malchut] did Aaron come into the holy place." (Lev. 16:3)

And this yoke [of the Heavenly Kingdom] can not rest upon one who is bound [i.e. subservient] to another and therefore, [indentured] servants are exempt from [accepting upon themselves] the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom [i.e. from the commandment of saying the Shema]. If they are exempt from this yoke, they are certainly exempt from all other [levels of holiness of the sefirot] since others are not placed upon one until this yoke is upon him. Therefore, Israel in Egypt ate 'freely/chinam' [without the requirement of blessings on the food].

Here too, "he shall go out 'free/chinam'" (Ex. 21:2) [free of the kelipot, called "chinam"] since he was a subservient slave and whatever he did was without the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom [since he was in servitude to another, he was unable to accept on himself the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom and any mitzvot that he did were in the grasp of the kelipot]. So even though his deeds had been done free of a yoke, "he shall go out" [from the grasp of the kelipot] and find rest [and any mitzvot that he had done while in servitude can now rise to the side of holiness due to hsi being circumcised and thus attached to malchut]. After gaining freedom [from the kelipot] and finding himself at rest [in Holiness], a yoke is placed upon him from that place that brought him freedom [malchut].

If someone rejected freedom [and prefers to remain under the dominion of the kelipot] as the verse reads, "And if the servant shall say, I love my master..." (Ex. 21:5) he certainly has blemished that place [of malchut] since he has rejected the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom and accepted the yoke of his master. What does it say of this? "Then his master shall bring him to Elokim; he shall also bring him to the door...". "Then his master shall bring him to the Elohim"; to that place that he damaged [malchut, which is] also called Elokim.

To what place does he bring him near? " the door or to the door post [in Hebrew, 'mezuzah']" since that place [malchut] is the entrance above [to all the rest of the sefirot] and it is called 'mezuzah'. And so we already learned.

Since he had intent to blemish that place, this deficiency remains in his body. This is what is written: "and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever", since the servant will be beneath the feet of his master until Jubilee year. [He will greatly descend into the kelipot until the Jubilee, and the malchut cannot get him out, rather bina needs to get him out once the Jubilee comes.]

[What follows is a discussion that hearing relates to the malchut while action relates to the bina.]

Why his ear? We already have established this [R. Yohanan ben Zakai says: The ear is the limb that is pierced, because it heard G‑d say on Mount Sinai "The children of Israel are slaves to Me", not slaves to slaves, and this man acquired a different master for himself! (Kedushin 22B)]

[according to Kabbala] the reason is: Hearing is dependent upon this place [malchut, also called the gates of prayer, as all prayers enter via malchut to be heard on High]; actions depend [on bina] above. When the Congregation of Israel [malchut] was approaching Mount Sinai with the love in their hearts to approach G‑d, they placed doing before hearing [by saying "we will do and (then) we will hear"]. Normally, listening precedes doing. Listening depends on malchut and since this servant damaged that listening, his listening was blemished. This blemish [the grasp of the kelipot] remains with him, and he does not remain a servant to his master unless he approaches that place [malchut] that he blemished and he is blemished before it, and this rebuff remains with him. For this reason, "then his master shall bring him to the Elokim." [malchut], as we established. Hence, "shall the land [malchut] keep a Shabbat to G‑d." [without blemish of servitude]

BeRahamim LeHayyim: What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed to you now?

We can close our eyes, and we can decide to look away from those things that might pull us into untoward desire, away from holiness. But how can we close our ears?! Some say that our fingers were designed to be able to stop up our ears. That is not a practical solution save for preventing damage from loud noise. To rectify hearing may be harder than sight. While the Talmud compares a blind man to a dead man, those who have lost both faculties report that the loss of hearing is worst for one's connection to one's fellow.

To circumcise one's ears requires tremendous deliberation. We are not permitted to believe falsehood about another, not even true information that has no constructive purpose [See Gossip and Slander for more on this subject.] Rather, we must use our ears to judge others on the scale/palm of merit. Don't read into another's words except if it is necessary for survival. If we keep our ears pure and holy repositories, we can avoid the attachment of negativity as described above.

For if the 24,000 students of R. Akiva had listened to their fellow with love and admiration and not judgment (see Mourning Observances of the Sefirat HaOmer Period), we might have a different Omer experience.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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