Inasmuch as the Jewish people are meant to teach G‑d’s ways to the rest of the world, G‑d forbade Jews to sell themselves as slaves to non-Jews. If, however, a Jew does this, the sale is valid, but his close relatives are required to buy him back (“redeem” him) at the earliest possible opportunity.
Whose Slaves are We?
כִּי לִי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲבָדִים עֲבָדַי הֵם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וגו': (ויקרא כה:נה)
[G‑d instructed Moses to tell the Jewish people “The relatives of the servant must redeem him] because the Israelites are My servants, whom I brought out of Egypt.” Leviticus 25:55

Some of us are so absorbed in our work during the six days of the workweek that it seems as if we have become slaves to it. Even on the Sabbath – the weekly “seventh year,” on which we are supposed to “go free” – it is hard to free ourselves from the grip in which our work holds us.

The Torah teaches us that this is not the right way to live. We were created to serve G‑d: to study His Torah and to fulfill His commandments. Since G‑d created us for this purpose, He has surely provided us with the ability to fulfill it. Even when we work during the week, we must not consider ourselves enslaved to our work; rather, we should work in order to use the fruits of our labors for holy purposes. And on the Sabbath, we should rise completely above any association with our mundane lives.

By thus liberating ourselves from our personal enslavement, we hasten the general Redemption, when the whole world will be free to pursue spirituality and Divinity unhindered.1