The pasuk says in regards to the eved ivri: His ear is pierced on the doorpost. Rashi asks, quoting the Mechilta, “Why is his ear pierced” and he answers “because that ear heard at Har Sinai ‘lo signov – do not steal’ and still, he went and stole.”
The Mechilta seems to be answering that this is a punishment to the eved ivri for not listening well to that which he was taught. The Taz in his perush on Chumash, asks: the ‘lo signov” that is said in the 10 Commandments is not referring to one who steals money, but rather one who kidnaps! We did not hear at Har Sinai in the 10 commandments the prohibition to steal?
In this week’s parsha of Mishpatim there are many laws with many loopholes and much fine print. True, that technically the lo signov said in the 10 Commandments refers to kidnapping, but the concept is the same concept as stealing. Both refer to taking something which is not yours. It could very well be that the point of the Torah is to answer the Taz’s question: it is not enough to fulfill all the technical commandments, but rather one must live with the spirit of the law, too. One is not just punished for not hearing, but also for not listening to the concepts that the Torah is trying to teach us.
I find many times when learning, one seems to be drowning in details and forgets to learn the lesson that the Torah is teaching. If one takes a step back, to put together the picture that the Torah is trying to impress on us, usually most of the details will also fall into place. This idea (that one must not just hear the halacha, but must also ‘get’ it) is found in the gemora on Shabbos “The person asked of Rabbi Akiva ‘teach me all the Torah whilst I stand on one foot.’ Rabbi Akiva answered ‘v’ahavta l’reiecha kmocha’ – after you have that principal, the rest of the blanks you can fill in yourself.”