Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Hershel Reichman
The eved ivri (Jewish slave) was a rare occurrence during the Temple era and is certainly not relevant today. Why then is it discussed first in this parsha?
Chassidut teaches that space consists of six sides, namely: up, down, left, right, front, and back. There is an epicenter within this three dimensional cube, which is the seventh point. This parallels the human experience. Most of our life encounters touch us externally. However there are certain experiences that are so profound that they affect our inner core. This, the Avnei Nezer explains, is why the eved ivri works six years and goes free in the seventh year. The eved ivri is a common criminal or at best a social outcast, sold into slavery to repay his debts. He is bound to serve his master six years, signifying the six external points of his life that have experienced a terrible breakdown. Yet his inner seventh point remains pure and indestructible. This is why he is set free in the seventh year.
What is the secret of this indomitable inner core? At Har Sinai, Hashem said, “Anochi Hashem Elokecha.” I am Hashem who redeemed you from Egypt. This seems strange. The redemption was certainly incredible, but the creation of the world was even more so. Why does Hashem specifically introduce himself as our redeemer rather than our Creator?
The Shem MiShmuel notes that in halacha something that is hekdesh (sanctified) is not subject to human claim. When the Jews became a nation, they reached the level of hekdesh, and therefore the Egyptians could no longer have a hold on them. Our special relationship with Hashem over and beyond the other nations is the kedushat yisrael, the seventh inner indestructible point which connects us as a people to Hashem.
At Matan Torah, when the Jews said naaseh v’nishma they became entirely sanctified. All seven levels were freed and no nation could dominate them. After cheit haegel, the six external sides were contaminated again, but the seventh inner core remained pure. This state has stayed with us until today. The vagaries of life cannot affect us because inwardly we are eternally free. Even the eved ivri retains his pure core. Externally, he may have been broken, but his inner seventh point remained untouched, and that is why he is eventually set free.
Similarly, the Rambam notes that the world will exist for six thousand years. In the seventh year, we will be redeemed. Mashiach will come and the world will finally recognize the unique bond between us and Hashem that has kept us strong and indestructible throughout our long exile.